Jesus Christ: The New Adam


Adamic Typology in the New Testament


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Introduction



In the second century, a bishop by the name of Irenaeus was fighting the greatest heresy the Church had faced up to that time: Gnosticism. This heresy denied the creation of the world by God, instead attributing the events of the first chapters of Genesis to a lower "demiurge". In response, Irenaeus emphasized the unity of creation with redemption - the same God who saves humanity in Jesus Christ also created Adam in the Garden of Eden. Christ's work was one of "recapitulation," and one of Christ's tasks was to undo the wrongs committed by Adam (cf. Danielou, "From Shadows to Reality" 30-47). Irenaeus' argument thus compares and contrasts Jesus and Adam, primarily through typology, in which one person (or event or thing) is seen to represent a model or "type" for a future person (or event or thing). Adamic typology as applied to Christ became a fixture of Christology within the Church, being found in both the East and the West through the centuries. The origin of the Adam-Christ comparison, however, is not Irenaeus, but the New Testament itself, in which one may find many typological connections between Adam and Christ. This typology can be found throughout the canon, including the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, the Apocalypse of John, and most especially the epistles of Paul. However, it has its foundations even earlier, as the connection between Adam and the coming Messiah presents itself in Jewish literature of the pre-Christian as well as the Christian era, including the Old Testament.
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