Holman Bible Dictionary
Adam and Eve
Old Testament The Hebrew word for Eve means “life,” while the Hebrew word for Adam simply means “man.” The Hebrew word adam is used in at least three different ways in the Old Testament. In its most common occurrence, the word adam refers to mankind in general. It has this use in Genesis 1:26-27 , where it includes both male and female, those who were created in the image of God. It is also used in referring to a specific man where it occurs with the Hebrew definite article (Genesis 2:24; Genesis 4:1 ). A third use of Adam is in reference to the city beside Zaretan (Joshua 3:16 ) on the Jordan. The Hebrew word for Eve is used only as reference to Adam's wife.
New Testament In the New Testament, Adam is used as a proper name, clearly referring to our ancestral parents. Jesus' genealogy is traced back to Adam (Luke 3:38 ). However, the most important New Testament usage treats Jesus as a second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45 ), where the word is used as a symbol. Furthermore, Paul in a similar manner treats Adam as a type of Christ (Romans 5:14 ). As the first Adam brought death into the world, the “second Adam” brought life and righteousness (Romans 5:15-19 ).
Eve is referenced two times in the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians 11:3 , Eve's gullibility before the serpent is presented as undesirable. In 1 Timothy 2:11-15 , women are urged to be silent and subjected to man because Adam was created before Eve and because Eve was deceived into sinning.
Theological Concerns Adam and Eve are the ancestors of humanity. They are described as being the first persons. They also produced the first offspring (Genesis 4:1-2 ,Genesis 4:1-2,4:25 ). The Genesis narrative shows the development of humanity from these first parents. The interrelatedness of all humanity is stressed in Genesis.
Further the biblical writers use the story of Adam and Eve as symbolic of the universal history of all mankind. All persons reenact in their own lives the tragic story of our ancestral parents. Thus Adam and Eve are real but also symbolic.
Adam and Eve introduced sin into human experience. The first record of sinful rebellion in the Bible is found in the narrative of the first persons (Genesis 3:1-13 ). They fell victim to the serpent's lie (Genesis 3:4 ). They made the choice to disbelieve and to disobey. They were not forced to disobey God but freely chose to do so.
The consequences of Adam and Eve's sin fell not merely upon them but upon the earth as well (Genesis 3:14-19 ). The consequences of sin had lasting influence far beyond the two individuals. Further, following their sin, Adam and Eve hid from God; God did not hide from them (Genesis 3:8-9 ). Their ultimate punishment was being driven from the garden (Genesis 3:22-24 ). However, this was also an act of God's mercy, for it kept humanity from living forever in a sinful state. Thus an opportunity was offered for the possibility of future redemption. See Jesus; Sin; Judgement; Wrath; Mercy.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Adam and Eve'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/a/adam-and-eve.html. 1991.