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It is a generally recognized fact that the etymologies proposed in the narratives which make up the Book of Genesis are often divergent and not always philologically correct, and though the theory (founded on Genesis 2:7 ) that connects adam with adamah has been defended by some scholars, it is at present generally abandoned.
Others explain the term as signifying "to be red", a sense which the root bears in various passages of the Old Testament (e.g. In this hypothesis the name would seem to have been originally applied to a distinctively red or ruddy race. 25) remarks that on the ancient monuments of Egypt the human figures representing Egyptians are constantly depicted in red, while those standing for other races are black or of some other colour. 25.) Some writers combine this explanation with the preceding one, and assign to the word adam the twofold signification of "red earth", thus adding to the notion of man's material origin a connotation of the color of the ground from which he was formed.
Practically all the Old Testament information concerning Adam and the beginnings of the human race is contained in the opening chapters of Genesis.
To what extent these chapters should be considered as strictly historical is a much disputed question, the discussion of which does not come within the scope of the present article.
Attention, however, must be called to the fact that the story of the Creation is told twice, viz.
in the first chapter and in the second, and that while there is a substantial agreement between the two accounts there is, nevertheless, a considerable divergence as regards the setting of the narrative and the details.
On the sixth day Elohim creates, first, all the living creatures and beasts of the earth; then, in the words of the sacred narrative, he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.
Thus the creation of man, instead of occupying the last place, as it does in the ascending scale of the first account, is placed before the creation of the plants and animals, and these are represented as having been produced subsequently in order to satisfy man's needs.
Man is not commissioned to dominate the whole earth, as in the first narrative, but is set to take care of the Garden of Eden with permission to eat of its fruit, except that of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the formation of woman as a helpmeet for man is represented as an afterthought on the part of Yahweh in recognition of man's inability to find suitable companionship in the brute creation.
It has been the custom of writers who were loath to recognize the presence of independent sources or documents in the Pentateuch to explain the fact of this twofold narrative by saying that the sacred writer, having set forth systematically in the first chapter the successive phases of the Creation, returns to the same topic in the second chapter in order to add some further special details with regard to the origin of man.
It must be granted, however, that very few scholars of the present day, even among Catholics, are satisfied with this explanation, and that among critics of every school there is a strong preponderance of opinion to the effect that we are here in presence of a phenomenon common enough in Oriental historical compositions, viz.
And the days of Adam, after he begot Seth, were eight hundred years and he begot sons and daughters.