Biblical authors interests predominantly rest in Adam and Eve being representatives of all humanity. Questions raised by science (e.g. genetic evolution) that compete with the creation story in Genesis (Gen), can be integrated by an archetypal view of Adam and Eve. Whereas, Adam and Eve through biblical genealogies are individual created beings, this is not their primary purpose throughout Scripture. Adam and Eve represent the frail and mortal creation mankind is, and primarily concerns our function as human beings, rather than scientific or historical claims of human origin.
This analysis is built through close reading of Scripture, starting with the creation story and finding narrative similarities in the New Testament (NT). Beginning at creation, mankind made in Gods image is presented for archetypal interpretation. ‘Adam predominately does not refer to an individual, but generically to mankind. Mankind being formed from the dust of the earth is not about material beginnings, but an assertion of mankind’s nature.
When Adam is placed in the garden, he is given the responsibility to be in priestly service. This represents the priestly role mankind is to serve. An archetypal role for Eve can also be interpreted, when she is created from ‘Adam to be a helper. This priestly work and the relationship of Adam and Eve with God are in direct contrast to other creation stories of the ancient Near East.
Archetypal roles for Adam and Eve are also found in narrative similarities between the old and NT’s. Nowhere does the New Testament claim that all human origin descended from Adam and Eve, but their primary theological focus in the NT is the historical topic of sin and death entering creation through them.
The two traditional views of the human creation story in Gen 1-3 are that there are two opposing creation stories or the second account is an expansion on the sixth day of the first. Archetypal evidence is revealed when the second account is seen as a sequel to the first, inferring Adam and Eve as elected individuals taken from creation.
Proposing that Gen 1 is an “account of functional origins rather than an account of material origin” (Walton, 115) opens the door for another creator of things that are not good, functioning in unsacred spaces. If other individuals of creation were present at the time ‘Adam was selected for the garden and sin entered mankind through him, was the rest of mankind also made aware of good and evil? If not, what kind of existence do they have or opportunity in relationship with God? Ultimately, I believe John Walton’s approach in affirming Adam and Eve as real people, while making biblical claims against them being ancestors of all human beings or that there is discontinuity between Adam and other species is helpful in reconciling scientific claims of creation with the Bible. However, having to defend the Bible against theoretical scientific claims may delegitimize the power of their archetypical significance. As John Walton states, “some acts attributed to God or Jesus will always defy natural explanations.” (Walton, 117)