Jesus Christ: The New Adam


Adamic Typology in the New Testament


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The Gospel of John



John's Gospel does not include the account of the Temptation in the Desert as the Synoptic Gospels do. However, John, who fills his Gospel with many typological signs and Old Testament imagery, begins his work with language that immediately harkens to the creation account and Adam in Paradise: "In the beginning was the Word..." (John 1:1). By using "In the beginning" to start his Gospel, John is modeling his prologue after the first creation account found in Genesis 1. Inserted into this prologue is the figure of John the Baptist (vv.6-9, 15-18), who is later called the "friend of the Bridegroom" (John 3:29). Thus, John is presenting the following image: Jesus is a new Adam who is the "bridegroom." But if Christ is a bridegroom, who then is his bride? In Genesis 2:21-23, Adam is given a bride, Eve, by God making a woman out of his side:
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
Near the end of John's Gospel, we encounter a strange scene from the Cross:
But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness -- his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -- that you also may believe. (John 19:34-35)
Throughout Church history, a common interpretation of this passage has been sacramental: Christ's blood represents the Eucharist and the water represents Baptism. This sacramental connection consequently represents the Church, which is the dispenser of all sacraments. So from Christ's side is born the Church. As from Adam's side comes forth the birth of his bride, Eve, from Christ's side comes forth the birth of his bride, the Church. The Church Fathers found much in this connection; Hilary even considered the sleep of Adam as one of the great "sacraments" of the Old Testament (Danielou, "From Shadows to Reality" 48). St. Ephrem the Syrian sums up the view of the Fathers when he writes,
"There came forth blood and water," which is his church, and it is built on him, just as [in the case of] Adam, whose wife was taken from his side...From Adam's rib there was death, but from our Lord's rib, life (Commentary on Tatian's Diatessaron 20:11)
Did John understand this typology when he was writing his Gospel or was it just an invention of the Church Fathers? Considering how deep his entire Gospel is in Old Testament and Sacramental imagery, as well as his use of the same Greek word that the Septuagint uses to describe Adam's "side", it seems clear that he intends to convey an Adamic typology in this passage.


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