The Attack on Biblical Anthropology. Part 5.

Reading Time: 21 minutes

Featured Image: Photo by Deon Black on Unsplash

Contours of Creation: Probing the Mystery of ‘Adam’ in Genesis

(Opinion Piece)

Quest for Origins: Unraveling ‘Adam’ in the Genesis Narrative

In the intricate tapestry of Genesis, the account of the creation of humanity unfolds with interesting nuances, revealing layers of meaning that extend far beyond a simple narrative. Rooted in the ancient text of Genesis 1 and 2, the exploration of Adam’s significance crosses singular, plural, and collective dimensions, inviting us to delve into the profound complexities of human existence.

The exploration of the theme of hā·’ā·ḏām, embodying both male and female in one living being, poses a challenge to simplistic definitions and confounds human comprehension. This deliberate complexity fosters a diversity of interpretations, creating a tapestry of seemingly contradictory yet viable perspectives that coexist in tension. This intricate interplay resembles a biblical analogue to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, where determining the identity of hā·’ā·ḏām remains elusive, paralleling the inability to determine both the position and speed of subatomic particles, in a given moment.

The essay unfolds as an experimental endeavor, drawing parallels to the double-slit experiment in physics. By delving into the nuanced layers of the text, the exploration yields unforeseen and enigmatic responses, akin to the unpredictable outcomes observed in that scientific experiment. Notably, after millennia of study, the observation emerges that the text may intentionally deviate from conventional grammatical norms. This prompts contemplation not, on the author’s lack of linguistic proficiency, but rather on a purposeful departure from linguistic conventions, inviting a deeper understanding of the text’s intended complexity.

From the moment God molds ‘hā·’ā·ḏām’ from the dust of the ground and breathes into him the breath of life, a journey of linguistic precision and conceptual richness begins. This essay embarks on a examination of the biblical narrative, unveiling the manifold aspects of ‘hā·’ā·ḏām’s’ identity – a creation marked by both unity and diversity, individuality and collectivity. As one navigates the linguistic paradoxes, the divine pluralities, and the interwoven threads of life’s breath, the Genesis narrative emerges as a profound source of theological insight into the essence of humanity and its intricate relationship with the divine.

The initial mention of humans created in the image of God is in Genesis 1:26, and is intimately connected to hā·’ā·ḏām’s creation as male and female (zā-ḵār and ū-nə-qê-ḇāh), as articulated in Genesis 1:27. Moreover, it encompasses the directive to be fruitful and exercise dominion over creation, as outlined in Genesis 1:26 and 1:28.

Genesis 2:7 conveys the creation of humanity, stating that the Lord God formed hā·’ā·ḏām from the dust of the ground (hā·’ă·ḏā·māh), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (lives, ḥay·yîm), making him a living being. This verse highlights the intimate involvement of God in shaping human existence, emphasizing the connection between the physical and the divine in the origin of humanity.

In Genesis 2:20-24, Adam names the animals, realizing that none of them is a suitable companion for him. God then creates woman (’iš-šāh) from man (’îš ‘s) side, emphasizing the profound unity of essence between them. The passage underlines the establishment of marriage, stating that a man shall leave his parents and be united to his wife (bə·’iš·tōw), forming a bond so close that they become one flesh (’e·ḥāḏ). This narrative highlights the complementary nature of male and female in the divine plan for human relationships.

In the aftermath of the fall in the Garden of Eden, hā·’ā·ḏām bestows the name Eve (ḥaw-wāh) upon his wife (’iš·tōw), as depicted in Genesis 3:20. Her designation as “mother of all living”, emphasises Eve’s (ḥaw-wāh’s) significant role in the unfolding narrative.

Genesis 5:1 reaffirms the divine likeness of mankind with the assertion that, ‘… In the day when God created man (here the anarthrous ’ā·ḏām), He made him in the likeness of God’. The subsequent verse, Genesis 5:3, extends this notion to ’ā·ḏām’s son Seth, emphasizing the transmission of the image of God from one generation to the next. This implies both a continuity of the divine image and a parallelism between the image of God in humanity and the familial continuity expressed as ‘… he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image….'(Genesis 5:3)

Boundaries of Interpretation: A Correct Approach to Navigating Mystery

Tertullian, in his work “Against Hermogenes” (Chapter XXVI), discusses the method observed in the narrative of the creation of hā·’ā·ḏām. The passage emphasizes a correct adherence to the prescribed sequence of any narrative, beginning with a prefatory statement, followed by detailed descriptions: “first the subject is named, then it is described”.

This narrative is compared to the one of the creation of heaven and the earth in Gen. 1:1-2. He shows they follow the same logical and linguistic structure:  “In like manner with respect to the heaven, it informs us first of its creation—“In the beginning God made the heaven:” it then goes on to introduce its arrangement; how that God both separated “the water which was below the firmament from that which was above the firmament,” and called the firmament heaven, —the very thing He had created in the beginning”. (Tertullian,”Against Hermogenes” [Chapter XXVI])

A caution from Von Rad espouses that thoroughness and rigor are the order of the day: “Nothing is here by chance; everything must be considered carefully, deliberately, and precisely. It is false, therefore, to reckon here even occasionally with archaic and half mythological rudiments. . . . What is said here is intended to hold true entirely and exactly as it stands.”(von Rad. 1961) 1 von Rad. Gerhard, Genesis (trans. John H. Marks; OTL; London: SCMPress, 1961 cited in David Clines published as The Image of God in Man, Tyndale Bulletin 19 (1968), pp. 53-103; reprinted as Humanity as the Image of God, in On the Way to the Postmodern, vol. 2 (JSOTSup, 293; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), pp. 447-97. In context, what is being emphasised here is, that the apparent misuse of singular and plural terms are neither mistakes nor contradictions, but are deliberately inserted, as to form part of the narrative.(Clines. 1998 p.13)

The intentional introduction of mystery, necessitates an acknowledgment of the limitations inherent in interpretation. This underscores the importance of thoroughness in approaching these narratives, recognizing the boundaries set by the text itself.

Unveiling the Significance of Adam in Singular, Plural, and Collective Dimensions.

And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:27 (NASB)

God (אֱלֹהִ֤ים ’ĕ-lō-hîm N-mp ) created man (הָֽאָדָם֙ hā·’ā·ḏām Art | N-ms) in His own image (בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ, bə-ṣal-mōw, Prep-b | N-msc | 3ms) in the image of God (אֱלֹהִ֤ים N-mp )He created him (אֹת֑וֹ ō·ṯōw DirObjM | 3ms) male (זָכָ֥ר, zā-ḵār, N-ms) and female (וּנְקֵבָ֖ה, ū-nə-qê-ḇāh, Conj-w | N-fs) He created them (אֹתָֽם׃ ’ō·ṯām DirObjM | 3mp).

In the Genesis 1 narrative, hā·’ā·ḏām stands apart from other creatures by virtue of being fashioned in the divine likeness. This creation-image was bestowed entirely and conclusively during hā·’ā·ḏām’s initial creation. The usage of hā·’ā·ḏām in this verse transcends individual gender labels and transforms into a collective singular noun denoting ‘humanity’ or, ‘mankind.’ God formed hā·’ā·ḏām in His own image, stating, “male and female God created them” representing a creation that is gender-differentiated, without any implication of hierarchy.

As is seen, the hā·’ā·ḏām of Gen 1 was not a singular figure, but rather, the word seemed to represent a broader group: male and female. But no other creature is marked in this fashion. However, whoever hā·’ā·ḏām is: Adam (’ā·ḏām) is his name, he is a man (‘iš), and he is on his own. The latter is clarified by God’s awareness of the loneliness of hā·’ā·ḏām, and the subsequent fashioning of a partner for him, who is in the first instance named woman (’iš-šāh), and later, Eve (ḥaw-wāh).

The deliberate choice not to employ the plural form when first introducing hā·’ā·ḏām in Genesis 1:26 holds significance for understanding its subsequent articular usage in Genesis 1:27. The absence of the plural in the initial statement, should inspire the reader to consider that the text may intend hā·’ā·ḏām to be presented in a collective sense, with a plural verb (“let them have dominion”), underscoring a broader and inclusive reference to humanity as a unified entity. This deliberate singular emphasis in Genesis 1:26 contrasts with the later articular usage in Genesis 1:27, where hā·’ā·ḏām takes on the form of “the man” (‘the ’ā·ḏām”). This transition from a collective to a specific, individualized form implies a nuanced shift in focus, emphasizing a distinct and singular human identity (‘the man’) within the broader context of mankind. The intentional linguistic choices contribute to a rich narrative structure, highlighting both the unity and individuality inherent in the creation of humanity.

From the beginning, God’s choice of vocabulary is distinct when it comes to creating hā·’ā·ḏām. Unlike other instances where God says, “Let there be light” or “Let there be dry land,” with hā·’ā·ḏām, there’s a notable switch. God changes His vocabulary, saying, “Let us make man in our image.” This linguistic shift is significant, because it proposes to instill in the reader the idea that, hā·’ā·ḏām is intended to reflect, albeit in a limited way, the plurality and unity within the Godhead.

Moving forward, an important distinction needs to be made here: both androgyny and sexual neutrality deviate from the Biblical narrative concerning the creation of woman and its subsequent events. The concept of androgyny fails to align with the depiction of woman’s formation from a side of the “dual gendered creature” who is also at the same time a man. This suggests that the woman’s physical form was crafted from this specific portion, rather than being merely separated from an intermixed body. The term “וַיִּבֶן֩” (way-yi-ḇen), translated as “built,” underscores that God, in fashioning the woman, emphasizing the shaping process rather than a mere separation. (Gellman. 2006)

Exploring Linguistic Paradox: Singular ‘Image’ Amidst a Divine Plurality

In the exegetical analysis of Genesis 1:26-28, a nuanced exploration reveals a transition from a seemingly plural divine discourse (“Let us make man in our image”) to a singular act of creation (“God created man in His own image”). This abrupt shift prompts a theological inquiry into the nature of divine plurality and its subsequent manifestation in the singular creation of Adam. The juxtaposition of “our image” and “His own image” necessitates meticulous examination to discern the implications of this linguistic shift.

Niskanen’s work, “The Poetics of Adam: The Creation of Ha’Adam in the Image of ‘Elohîm,” published in the Journal of Biblical Literature (vol. 128, no. 3, 2009, pp. 417-436), provides significant insights into these ideas:

  • 27a So ‘ĕlōhîm (plural [P]) created hā’ādām (singular [S]) in his image (S)
  • 27b In the image (S) of ‘ĕlōhîm (P) he created him (S)
  • 27c Male (S) and female (S) he created them (P).2Niskanen, Paul. “The Poetics of Adam: The Creation of Ha’Adam in the Image of ‘Elohîm.” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 128, no. 3, 2009, pp. 417-436. ProQuest,îm/docview/214612533/se-2.

The parallelism continues through all three lines in terms of ‘elōhîm creating

  • 27a ‘ĕlōhîm (P) created hā ‘ādām (S)
  • 27b he (S) created him (S)
  • 27c he (S) created them (P)

The parallelism continues in the other half of the line as well.

  • 27a in his image (S)
  • 27b in the image of ‘ĕlōhîm (P)
  • 27c male (S) and female (S)3 ibid. p. 422

Some interpreters might understand a meaning of the passage along the following lines:

“So ‘ĕlōhîm created hā ‘ādām in his image / In the image of ‘ĕlōhîm he created
each one.”

Niskanen comments: “Thus, the statement ‘male and female he created them,’ far from being dissociated from the concept of the image of God, stands at the very crux of its interpretation”. 4ibid. p. 424

His conclusions can be summarised as follows:

The Genesis text suggests two aspects: individual humans and humanity as a whole are created in God’s image. The mention of “male and female” is tightly connected to being made in God’s image, reflecting a parallel structure in the text. This idea aligns with the broader context of Genesis 1:26–28, where a double blessing follows the development of the image of God. The passage also links sexual differentiation and procreation to the image of God, especially in the genealogy of Adam (Genesis 5:1–3). Lastly, the specificity of “hā·’ā·ḏām” in verse 27 connects it to verse 26, highlighting that ’ā-ḏām, as God’s image, is a concrete being, not just an idea, applying to both individuals and humanity as a whole.

Tracing the Thread of Adam’s Unified Identity

This linguistic tension extends to Genesis 5:1-2, where this time the singular anarthrous term ’ā·ḏām, encompasses both the male and female, requiring a deeper understanding of the theological implications surrounding this unified nomenclature.

[1] This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.
[2] He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.

Genesis 5:1-2 (NASB)

[1] This is the book of the generations of Adam (אָדָ֑ם ’ā·ḏām; N-proper-ms). In the day when God (אֱלֹהִים֙ ’ĕ·lō·hîm, N-mp) created man (אָדָ֔ם ’ā-ḏām, N-ms) He made him (אֹת֑וֹ ō·ṯōw DirObjM | 3ms) in the likeness of God (אֱלֹהִ֤ים N-mp ).
[2] He created them (בְּרָאָ֑ם, bə-rā-’ām; V-Qal-Perf-3ms | 3mp) male ( זָכָ֥ר, zā-ḵār, N-ms) and female (וּנְקֵבָ֖ה, ū-nə-qê-ḇāh, Conj-w | N-fs) and He blessed (וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ, way-ḇā-reḵ, Conj-w | V-Piel-ConsecImperf-3ms) them (אֹתָ֗ם, ’ō·ṯām, DirObjM | 3mp)) and named (וַיִּקְרָ֤א, way·yiq·rā, Conj‑w | V‑Qal‑ConsecImperf‑3ms them (שְׁמָם֙, šə·mām, N‑msc | 3mp) Man (אָדָ֔ם, ’ā·ḏām, N‑ms) in the day when they were created (הִבָּֽרְאָֽם׃, hib·bā·rə·’ām., V‑Nifal‑Inf | 3mp).

The uniqueness of hā’ādām’s creation is reiterated in Genesis 5:1-2, this time in the anarthrous form; ’ā·ḏām. The text highlights that God created man (’ā-ḏām singular), male and female, in His likeness, and both are collectively called ’ā·ḏām singular. This should lead the reader to consider, that male and female, though distinct, are considered one in ’ā-ḏām, allowing them to be referred to as “him” even though they are collectively “them”. “The collective sense is self-evident not only in the pronoun but also in the fact that they are created male and female” (Niskanen)

Diagram 1: copyright donutapologetics 2024

The significance of the nuanced use of hā’ādām in Genesis is twofold. Firstly, the variation between anarthrous and articular forms of hā’ādām serve to establish a meticulous progression in the narrative. The initial anarthrous mention in verse 5 introduces a general concept of “man” before the specific act of creation. Subsequent articulations with definite articles in verses 7, 20, 21, 22, and 25 create a deliberate focus on “the man” in various contexts, emphasizing key moments such as the divine act of breathing life (properly the breath of lives), the naming task, the creation of woman from the side, and the dynamics of marriage.

Secondly, the alternation between the articular and anarthrous forms contributes to a rich layering of meaning. The articular usage signifies a specific and highlighted individual, emphasizing key events in the creation narrative. Conversely, the anarthrous form, especially when linked to prepositions as seen in verse 20, introduces a sense of generality or inclusivity, hinting at broader implications.

In essence, this linguistic precision within the narrative not only delineates the sequential unfolding of events but also imparts subtle nuances that enhance the reader’s understanding of the roles and relationships within the created order. The deliberate choice of linguistic forms adds depth to the theological and narratival significance of each stage in the Genesis account.

In Genesis 5:1-5, a significant shift occurs as the term ’ā-ḏām exclusively refers to the individual previously identified as hā’ādām in Genesis 4:25. This transition highlighted by the absence of the term “ha-adam” in 5:1-5, underscores a clear distinction. The confirmation of identity is strengthened through the detailed genealogy presented in Genesis 5, specifically outlining the genealogy of ’ā-ḏām (Adam). Extending beyond 5:1a, this lineage encompasses the entire section, making each subsequent detail, including 5:1b and 5:2, an integral part of Adam’s ancestral narrative.

When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.

Genesis 5:3 (NASB)

Notably, 5:3-5 provides comprehensive information about Adam, including his age at Seth’s birth, the duration of his life post-Seth, mention of other offspring, the age at which he dies, and identical details for Seth and subsequent generations. This reiterated information in 5:3-5 solidifies the identification of ’ā-ḏām in 5:1b-2 as the historical figure Adam/Ground-person, connecting him to the hā’ādām Ground-person of Genesis 4:25. An inclusio is established, emphasizing the genealogy of the real person Adam from 5:1 to 5:5, also identified as hā’ādām:—the Ground-person of 4:1, 2:7 to 2:27, and the Adam of 2:5 and 1:26. This intricate connection highlights the continuous presence of the historical figure throughout these passages. 5 “Series of 5 Articles. And God Said “Let Us Make Adam in Our Image” Article 3/5. The Solution to the Enigma and the Content of the Image of God. –”, 25 Apr. 2021, Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.

The assertion that hā’ādām was originally a man finds support in his retention of the same name, ’ā·ḏām, and the sustained consciousness of his identity following the formation of the woman. Upon awakening, hā’ādām expresses continuity in self-identity, affirming that he has discovered what he had sought;- before the woman’s creation. This post-operative consciousness aligns seamlessly with hā’ādām self-awareness, prior to the woman’s formation, indicating an inherent and unchanging maleness. Notably, the name ’ā·ḏām persists as the designation for the male earthling who endures the advent of the female. In subsequent references in 3:23, 9, 12, 20, and 22, it is exclusively this male entity who is identified as hā’ādām, underscoring the narrative’s emphasis on the man’s enduring male identity beyond the introduction of the woman. (Gellman. pp 6-8).

Eve, and the Interwoven Threads of Life’s Breath

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7 (NASB)

Then the LORD (יְהוָ֨ה, Yah·weh, N‑proper‑ms) God (אֱלֹהִים֙ ’ĕ·lō·hîm, N-mp) formed (וַיִּיצֶר֩, way·yî·ṣer, Conj‑w | V‑Qal‑ConsecImperf‑3ms) man (הָֽאָדָם֙ hā·’ā·ḏām Art | N-ms) of dust from the ground (הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה, hā·’ă·ḏā·māh, Art | N‑fs) and breathed (וַיִּפַּ֥ח, way·yip·paḥ, Conj‑w | V‑Qal‑ConsecImperf‑3ms) into his nostrils (בְּאַפָּ֖יו,bə·’ap·pāw, Prep‑b | N‑mdc | 3ms) the breath (נִשְׁמַ֣ת, niš·maṯ, N‑fs) of life (חַיִּ֑ים, ḥay·yîm, N‑mp [lives]) and man (הָֽאָדָם֙ hā·’ā·ḏām Art | N-ms) became (וַֽיְהִ֥י , way·hî, Conj‑w | V‑Qal‑ConsecImperf‑3ms) a living (חַיָּֽה׃, ḥay·yāh, Adj‑fs) being (לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ, lə·ne·p̄eš

The absence of explicit divine breath for Eve (ḥaw-wāh), introduces a fascinating dimension, hinting at mysterious intricacies in her creation. The plurality of “life” (ḥay·yîm) raises the question on hā·’ā·ḏām’s role in generative processes during the initial phases of creation. This pluralistic perspective on life takes on symbolic resonance, likely (but not only) emphasising, a divine purpose in the continuum of life through the agency of the created.

In Genesis 2:7, the English translation states that God breathed the breath of life singularly into hā·’ā·ḏām while the Hebrew reveals a plural form, leaving the “life” that hā·’ā·ḏām received an undefined quality, open to interpretation. This linguistic subtlety, prompts reflection on the manifold aspects of life breathed into hā·’ā·ḏām, notably the hā·’ā·ḏām, prior to God’s extrapolation of woman (’iš-šāh) from man’s (’îš’s) side, as depicted in Genesis 2:23-24.

Hā·’ā·ḏām acknowledges Eve’s formation from ’îš ‘s side, he emphasizes the shared nature, proclaiming her as “bone of my bones” and “flesh of my flesh.” This language underscores the equality of their nature, as she originated from his flesh and bone. The absence of a mention of God breathing the breath of life into Eve (ḥaw-wāh) in the same explicit manner as hā·’ā·ḏām invites contemplation on the theological implications of this distinction. The plural use of ‘lives’ in the context of hā·’ā·ḏām’s creation suggests a purposeful design, where the recipient of this plurality becomes instrumental in bringing forth another being, particularly evident in the creation of Eve (ḥaw-wāh).

The idea is not to diminish ĕ·lō·hîm’s direct creative role but to highlight hā·’ā·ḏām’s unique participation in the creative process. The plural “lives” may signify the potential for procreation, emphasizing hā·’ā·ḏām’s role as a “container” or blueprint for human life that would be instrumental in the bringing forth of other lives, from his own being, in which ĕ·lō·hîm would still be the only former – “potter” – and source of life. While ĕ·lō·hîm is the ultimate creator, the plural usage may symbolize Adam’s distinct role in the generative aspect of creation in the sense of ” he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth”.

Naming Eve: ḥaw-wāh and the Vital Wordplay with ḥāy

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

Genesis 2:23 [NASB]

The man (הָֽאָדָם֙ hā·’ā·ḏām Art | N-ms) said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman (אִשָּׁ֔ה, ’iš-šāh, N-fs) Because she was taken out of Man (מֵאִ֖ישׁ mê-’îš, Prep-m | N-ms).” (Genesis 2:23 [NASB])

The Genesis narrative of the creation of Eve (ḥaw-wāh) crafted from hā·’ā·ḏām’s rib, in order to become his fitting companion (Gen. 2:20-22) allows Adam (now used as the proper noun for the first human male) to recognize her as an integral part of himself, establishing the precedent for marriage (Gen. 2:23-24). Adam, acknowledging her significance, names her Eve (ḥaw-wāh) and designates her as the “Mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20).

In the context of Genesis 2 and 3, the assertion that Eve (ḥaw-wāh) is the female side of hā·’ā·ḏām (human) unveils a profound theological narrative. The passage in verses 21-23 of chapter 2 describes a distinctive act by ’ĕ·lō·hîm, where a side is taken from ’îš to craft woman (’iš-šāh). Although not explicitly articulated as an act of separation, a notable departure from the earlier unity of male and female (zā-ḵār and ū-nə-qê-ḇāh) in chapter 1 is evident. This separation results in the bestowal of new names, ’iš and ’iš-šāh, signifying man and woman. (Korsak)6Korsak, Mary Phil. “Eve, Malignant or Maligned?” CrossCurrents, vol. 44, no. 4, 1994, pp. 453–462, (p. 457) Accessed 10 Jan. 2024 .

Linguistically, the shared syllable “ish” in both ’iš and ’iš-šāh reflects their inherent sameness, while the unique syllable in ’iš-šāh “shah” emphasizes their distinction. Described as kə-neḡ-dōw, the counterpart of hā·’ā·ḏām, Eve (ḥaw-wāh), emerges from the generic concept of womanhood as a complete individual in chapter 3. Notably, Eve’s naming by hā·’ā·ḏām as ḥaw-wāh, meaning Life or Eve, becomes significant. The wordplay between ḥaw-wāh and ḥāy, denoting living, is pivotal. Contrary to a common interpretation emphasizing Eve as the mother of humankind, the roots hava and haya, from which her name is derived, encompass both dwelling and being alive. This nuanced understanding reinforces Eve’s profound connection to the essence of life itself within the Genesis narrative. (Korsak)7 ibid. p.459

Diagram 2: copyright donutapologetics 2024

Genesis and Gonadogenesis: Exploring the Undifferentiated State of ‘ha-adam

Within the cosmological framework of the creation of hā·’ā·ḏām, for some interpreters (Dubianetskaya. p.15), hā·’ā·ḏām is portrayed as possessing “two sides harboring the potential for both maleness and femaleness”. This implies an inherent duality within the human being, with gender characteristics latent until a specific need arises.

The concept of a sexually bipotential state in the early stages of gonadogenesis can be seen to resonate with the idea presented in Genesis that “both male and female” are created in the image of God within the broader context of hā·’ā·ḏām. The undifferentiated sexually bipotential state refers to the initial stage in embryonic development where the gonadal primordia possess the potential to develop into either male or female structures.

This nuanced orchestration underscores the remarkable complexity of embryonic sexual differentiation and highlights the shared developmental trajectory preceding the divergence into distinct gender identities. The journey from undifferentiated embryos to the manifestation of diverse sexes underscores the intricate interplay of genetic and hormonal factors, shaping the course of human development.

In the intricate process of embryonic development, a fascinating phenomenon unfolds during the initial weeks where all embryos, irrespective of their eventual gender, exhibit an undifferentiated state described as bipotential or indifferent. This temporal homogeneity emerges due to the presence of the same set of gonadal structures in the early stages of embryogenesis.

Around the sixth week, a critical juncture arises marked by the activation of genetic instructions encoded in the sex-determining region of the Y chromosome (SRY). This genetic cue, primarily found in males, triggers a cascade of events steering the differentiation towards a male phenotype. Conversely, in the absence of the SRY gene, the embryo progresses along the default pathway, developing into a female.

This undifferentiated state underscores the shared origin of male and female within the broader concept of hā·’ā·ḏām, highlighting the equality and common humanity of both genders. It also resonates with the idea that the diversity of male and female, as expressed in the later stages of sexual differentiation, is a part of the intentional and complex design in the creation narrative.

The Complementary Nature of Male and Female in hā·’ā·ḏām’s Creation from hā·’ă·ḏā·māh

In Genesis 2:7, the complex interplay between the masculine term hā·’ā·ḏām (הָֽאָדָם֙) and its feminine counterpart hā·’ă·ḏā·māh (אֲדָמָה) unveils a profound connection between humanity and the ground, portraying a symbiotic relationship where the male man is intricately linked to the earth. The biblical narrative emphasizes this connection, stating in Genesis 2:5 that nothing sprouted from the earth as there was no man [וְאָדָ֣ם (wə·’ā·ḏām)] to cultivate and serve the ground (hā·’ă·ḏā·māh).

This theme is reiterated in Genesis 2:15, underlining the responsibility bestowed upon the human to till and keep the garden. Furthermore, the inseparability between hā·’ā·ḏām and hā·’ă·ḏā·māh is highlighted in Genesis 3:17–19, where the consequences of ’ā·ḏām’s disobedience affect both of the humans, and the land. The curse upon the earth is intricately tied to the actions of hā·’ā·ḏām, reinforcing the interdependence of the two.

Even beyond the confines of Eden, the purpose of a man’s existence remains connected to the care and cultivation of the ground, as seen in Genesis 3:23 where God sends hā·’ā·ḏām to till the ground from which he was taken.

In the creation narrative, the union of the “dust of the ground” (hā·’ă·ḏā·māh) with the breath of God results in the formation of hā·’ā·ḏām. This intertwining of elements implies a dual nature, with the earth providing the physical substance while the divine breath imparts life. The gendered nature of the words, with hā·’ā·ḏām being masculine and hā·’ă·ḏā·māh feminine, adds a layer of symbolism.

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 (NASB)

The intricate tapestry of creation in Genesis extends to include the profound concept of the woman (‘iš-šāh) being taken from the man (‘iš), offering additional layers of meaning. The narrative unfolds unexpectedly with the formation of woman (feminine) from man (masculine), symbolizing a complementary relationship between the genders. The act of God fashioning woman from the side of ‘iš, describes a mutual dependence and shared origin resonating with that of hā·’ă·ḏā·māh and hā·’ā·ḏām.

Diagram 3: copyright donutapologetics 2024

This divine separation and subsequent union imply a profound equality and partnership between man and woman, challenging simplistic interpretations of hierarchy. The term ‘iš-šāh, derived from ‘iš, not only signifies the female gender but also underscores her origin from the common essence of humanity. This narrative holds implications for the understanding of gender relationships within the context of creation—suggesting collaboration, mutual support, and shared humanity.

In essence, the wordplay in hā·’ā·ḏām’s narrative serves as a linguistic and conceptual framework that captures the unity within diversity, illustrating the requirement of both male and female components, and the divine breath, in the generative and life-sustaining process. This tension highlights a harmonious interplay, suggesting a deeper spiritual dimension where the masculine and feminine aspects converge, both animated by the divine “breath of lives”.

The Genesis Paradox: Woman’s Unique Origin and Relationship with hā·’ā·ḏām

There is an understanding in Genesis 2, that “the Ground-person” (hā·’ā·ḏām) is concurrently identified as an ‘iš (a man). It becomes apparent that Eve (ḥaw-wāh), the woman (’iš-šāh), diverges from the category of Ground-person (hā·’ā·ḏām); she is not engendered from the ground, hā·’ă·ḏā·māh.

She is neither an animal nor a Ground-person (hā·’ā·ḏām), given that she is not fashioned from the ground (hā·’ă·ḏā·māh). The singular designation of Ground person, hā·’ā·ḏām, is attributed solely to him. The woman (’iš-šāh), distinctively, is shaped from the side of the Ground-person (hā·’ā·ḏām), not originating directly from the ground, hā·’ă·ḏā·māh.

Her existence is articulated as being taken out of man (’iš), thus characterizing her as a woman (’iš-šāh). Consequently, the text accommodates both assertions, indicating her derivation from the Ground-person (hā·’ā·ḏām) (Gen. 2:22, fashioned from the side of hā·’ā·ḏām) and her extraction from man (‘iš) (Gen. 2:23).

Adam the man (’iš) who is the Ground-person (hā·’ā·ḏām) is unique, in that he is the only Ground-person in all of God’s creation. The woman (’iš-šāh) is specially made. She comes out of a side of hā·’ā·ḏām, the Ground-person, and she is the only creature ever that comes out of the Ground-person. She is not the Ground person, she is now separate to Adam (’ā-ḏām), yet her mode of creation tells Adam that she is part of him. This is expressed in the words “’iš” and “’iš-šāh”.

Each half of the original unity appears whole, as God has “closed up this place with flesh” (Genesis 2:21), obliterating any visible traces of the division. However, hā·’ā·ḏām experiences a sense of unity upon recognizing the woman, ha-iššah, as an extension and reflection of himself. This recognition establishes a profound connection, with their bodies drawn to each other, echoing the poetic notion that “the two can become one again” (Genesis 2:23-24). (Dubianetskaya. p.15.)

In this narrative, woman emerges as a distinct individual from Adam (’ā-ḏām), despite her being fashioned from him. She is a woman (’iš-šāh).  She is not an ’iš (man).  She is not another hā·’ā·ḏām. Their individualities and genders are clearly delineated, and although they share a common material origin, they are not equivalent or interchangeable entities.8“Series of 5 Articles. And God Said “Let Us Make Adam in Our Image” Article 3/5. The Solution to the Enigma and the Content of the Image of God. –”, 25 Apr. 2021, Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.

In Conclusion: Hā·’ā·ḏām’s Relationship with the Rest of Creation

An examination of Genesis 2, reveals shared characteristics between humans and the plant and animal kingdoms. In Genesis 2:7, the narrative states that man is formed from the “dust of the ground,” a substance attributed to both land animals and birds as well, as seen in Genesis 2:19. Notably, both humans and animals are designated as “lə·ne·p̄eš ḥay·yāh,” emphasizing their shared living “beingness”. Notably, the plant kingdom lacks this distinctive description.

The misuse of these observations, serve as focal points for certain elements of theological scholarship to wrongfully characterise such discussions as an apology for viewing animals as “brothers and sisters”or “kin”. These align with perspectives prevalent in secular animal studies groups and contribute to discussions surrounding conservation and ecological ideologies.

It is essential to navigate these discussions with care, as they may inadvertently provide spaces for radical postmodern delusional anti-thinkers. Some critics argue that applying an academic “paint job” to these ideas, especially when peer-reviewed by like-minded Gnostic party members, may inadvertently fuel unconventional or radical viewpoints, ever increasingly manifested as “weirdness”. For instance, a certain prominent feminist figure, advocates for a new political and ethical framework known as the “Chthulucene,” emphasizing the interconnectedness of all living beings and the creation of “kin” across species lines. (Midson) While these perspectives highlight the importance of recognizing interconnectedness, the reality of distinct species lines remains a relevant factor that should not be dismissed.

In discussions, it’s unsurprising to note that certain self-evident cognitive biases often lead to the exclusion of key points from the discourse. Notably, overlooked in secular critical narratives are the exclusive to hā·’ā·ḏām concepts in the order of creation, that are: being made in the Image of God, being both male and female, and also receiving the breath of ‘lives’ from God. Strikingly, these specific illustrations are often side-lined, conferring upon hā·’ā·ḏām only a mythical status, regarding him as simply; a type of every person.

In Genesis 2, the creation of hā·’ā·ḏām as a singular entity precedes the formation of Eve. The text states that, unlike Eve, animals prove to be inadequate companions for Adam. Consequently, the relationship between Adam and animals is notably asymmetrical: Adam, for instance, bestows names upon the living creatures (Genesis 2:19), mirroring a form of authority reminiscent of God’s spoken power, emphasized throughout Genesis 1, with the recurring phrase “And God said”.

This narrative serves as a profound illustration of humanity’s responsibility to interpret and responsibly care for the world brought into existence by the divine utterance of God, thus emphasizing the intimate connection between language, interpretation, and our role as stewards of creation.

Similarly, Genesis 1:28–29 implies a sense of dominion that humans possess over animals, stemming from the Imago Dei and the directive for humans to exercise “dominion” over other species. While Genesis 2 does not explicitly mention Imago Dei, the absence of a suitable partnership with animals for hā·’ā·ḏām, Genesis 2:20, notably, understood by hā·’ā·ḏām himself, perpetuates the notion of an anthropocentric control established in Genesis 1. (Midson).


Berry. Roger J “Adam or Adamah?” Science & Christian Belief 23.1 (April 2011): 23-48.

Clines, David. “Humanity as the Image of God.”, Accessed 1 Jan. 2024.

Dubianetskaya, Iryna. “Knowledge: Life-Giving or Death-Bringing? Divine and Human Knowing in Genesis 2–3.” Analecta of the UCU. Theology, vol. 7, 2020, pp. 11–26, Accessed 3 Feb. 2024.

Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic , 2001.

Erickson, Millard J. “The Image of God in the Human.” In Christian Theology. 3rd ed., 457-474. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.

Esparza, Gustavo. “The Myth of Self-Knowledge in Genesis 1–2: The Fascination of the Encounter.”, Brill, 12 Mar. 2021, Accessed 7 Jan. 2024.

Gellman, Jerome. (2006). Gender and Sexuality in the Garden of Eden. Theology and Sexuality. 12. 319-335. 10.1177/1355835806065391.

Glasson, T. F. “‘Plurality of Divine Persons’ and the Quotations in Hebrews I. 6ff.” New Testament Studies 12.3 (1966): 270-72. Print.

Gnuse, R. K. (2021). The “Living Soul” in People and Animals: Environmental Themes from Genesis 2. Biblical Theology Bulletin, 51(3), 168-174.

Hoekema, Anthony. Created in God’s Image. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1994.

John Paul II. “General Audience, 7 November 1979 – the Original Unity of Man and Woman | John Paul II.”, 7 Nov. 1979,

Korsak, Mary Phil. “Eve, Malignant or Maligned?” CrossCurrents, vol. 44, no. 4, 1994, pp. 453–462, Accessed 10 Jan. 2024.

Midson, Scott. (2019). Humus and Sky Gods: Partnership and Post/Humans in Genesis 2 and the Chthulucene. Sophia. 58. 10.1007/s11841-018-0664-7.

Niskanen, Paul. “The Poetics of Adam: The Creation of Ha’Adam in the Image of ‘Elohîm.” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 128, no. 3, 2009, pp. 417-436. ProQuest,îm/docview/214612533/se-2.

“Series of 5 Articles. And God Said “Let Us Make Adam in Our Image” Article 3/5. The Solution to the Enigma and the Content of the Image of God. –”, 25 Apr. 2021, Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.

Thomas, Hayley . “The Image of God.” Lukes Journal, Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia, Sept. 2016, Accessed 27 Dec. 2023.

Towner, W.. (2005). Clones of God: Genesis 1:26–28 and the Image of God in the Hebrew Bible. Interpretation-a Journal of Bible and Theology. 59. 341-356. 10.1177/002096430505900402.

von Rad. Gerhard, Genesis (trans. John H. Marks; OTL; London: SCMPress, 1961)

Williams, Jeffrey J.. “14. From Cyborgs to Animals: Donna Haraway”. How to Be an Intellectual: Essays on Criticism, Culture, and the University, New York, USA: Fordham University Press, 2014, pp. 92-96.

Until the next post:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

(II Corinthians 13:14 [ASV])


  • 1
    von Rad. Gerhard, Genesis (trans. John H. Marks; OTL; London: SCMPress, 1961 cited in David Clines published as The Image of God in Man, Tyndale Bulletin 19 (1968), pp. 53-103; reprinted as Humanity as the Image of God, in On the Way to the Postmodern, vol. 2 (JSOTSup, 293; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), pp. 447-97.
  • 2
    Niskanen, Paul. “The Poetics of Adam: The Creation of Ha’Adam in the Image of ‘Elohîm.” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 128, no. 3, 2009, pp. 417-436. ProQuest,îm/docview/214612533/se-2.
  • 3
    ibid. p. 422
  • 4
    ibid. p. 424
  • 5
    “Series of 5 Articles. And God Said “Let Us Make Adam in Our Image” Article 3/5. The Solution to the Enigma and the Content of the Image of God. –”, 25 Apr. 2021, Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.
  • 6
    Korsak, Mary Phil. “Eve, Malignant or Maligned?” CrossCurrents, vol. 44, no. 4, 1994, pp. 453–462, (p. 457) Accessed 10 Jan. 2024 .
  • 7
    ibid. p.459
  • 8
    “Series of 5 Articles. And God Said “Let Us Make Adam in Our Image” Article 3/5. The Solution to the Enigma and the Content of the Image of God. –”, 25 Apr. 2021, Accessed 1 Feb. 2024.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »