Quick Book Review: The Figure of Adam in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15

pauladamchristTitle: The Figure of Adam in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15: The New Creation and Its Ethical and Social Reconfigurations

Author: Felipe de Jesus Legarreta-Castillo

Bibliographic info: 160 pp.

Publisher: Fortress Press, 2014.

Buy the book at Amazon.

With thanks to Fortress Press for the review copy!

This volume is the published version of the author’s doctoral dissertation completed at Loyola University, Chicago, under the supervision of Thomas Tobin, S.J.

Anyone familiar with the Apostle Paul’s epistles will no doubt know about how he makes some comparisons between Adam and Christ in Romans and 1 Corinthians (specifically Rom. 5:12-21 and 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45-59). The author examines patterns of exegesis of Genesis 1–3 in Second Temple Judaism, revealing along the way how Jewish interpreters teased out ethical implications from the story of Adam (a figure who appears numerous times in Jewish literature between 200 BCE and 100 CE). Thus, he reveals how Paul’s usage of Adam in Romans and 1 Corinthians has antecedents in the broader Jewish exegetical traditions. Specifically, he shows how Paul employs Adam in order to draw out social and ethical consequences, “[setting] the future resurrection of the believers in tension with their ethical commitment to the present.” Elsewhere the author says: “With the Adam typology Paul challenges the believer to participate in the present in the resurrection of Christ through a new lifestyle, that of Christ. Although to rise with Christ is a future event, it can be anticipated in the present through ethical behavior.”

Between the introductory and concluding chapters, the subject matter is divided into three chapters. The first chapter provides a survey on the status quaestionis on Adam Typology in Pauline scholarship. The second chapter explores how the figure of Adam was interpreted in Second Temple Jewish sources, first by focusing on the literary function of Adam in the larger context of each passage and then by seeing what, if any, ethical and social implications the author may have been attempting to convey by utilizing the figure of Adam. Texts discussed in this chapter include Sirach, Wisdom, Philo’s De Opificio Mundi, Jubilees, Josephus’ Antiquities, Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, the Sibylline Oracles, the Life of Adam and Eve, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch. The third chapter then tackles the figure of Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:21–22; 45-29, and Romans 5:12–21, specifically paying attention to the literary context in which Paul introduces the contrasts between Adam and Christ.

All in all, this slim volume is a nice read and shows how Paul’s uses the figures of Adam and Christ to bring together his theological and ethical concerns, with his interpretation of the figure of Adam being a good example of a creative biblical interpretation that aspires to transform humans after the last Adam, Jesus Christ.

2 responses

  1. Pingback: The Biblical Studies Carnival – December 2014 | Daniel N. Gullotta

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