The Origin of Humanness
By John Gavazzoni
In this study of the origin of our humanness, I'm choosing to start at the point of mankind's formation from the dust of the ground, instead of expounding on the truth that in the eternal Being of God, we have our being. I'm beginning with our formation, rather than our kin-of-God generation, because of the very precise wording of the Genesis record of man's emergence within the ages, and then proceed to the scripturally valid inferences to be drawn re: our eternal origin, and re: the expectation we ought to have based upon such a "sure foundation."
As I take, as my starting point, a verse of very precise wording, I will admit up front that I have been slow in learning to take great care in the study of the message of the Bible, often reading a passage as if it said one thing, when it, in fact, conveyed something quite different.
So it's been, for me, with that part of the Genesis record informing us of our eonian origin as those who, as Paul put it, are "of the earth, earthy." With each of us, there is a certain uniqueness in how the Spirit of Truth leads us into all truth. The operation of God's grace in this vessel, as pertaining to "rightly cutting the Word of truth," has often included being instructed to notice what a passage does NOT say, so as to cleanse the mind to receive what it DOES say.
We are all prone, with minds, at any given point yet unassisted by the Author of scripture, to approach its pages with certain assumptions that are so egregiously clumsy, that we tend to read into passages exactly what the passage does not convey, and our headlong rush into confusion is helped along often by a matching clumsiness of translation.
One day, the Spirit insisted that I rehearse again in my thinking, what was really said of man's formed-dust, eonian stage of existence. He, the Spirit, whispered,"Notice, the verse does not say, 'And the Lord God formed a human BODY for man out of the dust of the ground....,' or similarly, 'And the Lord God formed an empty body into which He planned to put a man,'" what it does say is, 'And the Lord God formed MAN of the dust of the ground....'" I think most students of the Bible think along the lines that God created a body FOR a soon-to-be man, rather than the man, himself, at least at that stage of manhood, being the result of God's craftsmanship.
But the passage, if read with the degree of prayerful consideration it, as indeed all scripture deserves, reveals God forming MAN, not just a BODY FOR the man. By His crafting of the dust of the earth, God formed man. Did you get that? He formed MAN, not just a body FOR man. Man, at the point of his eonian origin of existence IS formed dust. Reflect on that for a bit. If man has been indeed created according to God's likeness, then it would follow that there is a developmental factor about his eonian existence, for the God, according to whose likeness we have been created, has a developmental factor in His nature.
Since, when we speak of the nature of God, we are handicapped by the linear mindedness native to our confining space-time existence, I will simply try to make it as simple as possible by drawing from the illustration of a circle as reflecting the nature of God, as opposed to a straight line, which would predispose us to think of the existence of God being linear going back infinitely into the past, and infinitely into the future. Rather, as close as we can come to understand God's essential eternality, is by picturing a circularity of communion within the Godhead that is developmental with a vast God-family in view.
Though in the whole, Darwinism's view of the nature of life, has not been provenly established by genuine science, that is, to repeat, in the whole, (it is systemically infused by a spirit of religiosity, and has been exposed as such, by its claim to possessing indisputable veracity), Darwin nevertheless did accurately observe a developmental factor within nature.
But Christians tend to lose their calm when faced with Darwin's Origin of the Species, with it's survival of the fittest element, etc., and they become reactionary, rather than calmly thoughtful in the face of the suggestion that the life of the universe is self-originating and self-determining, and that according to hideously violent, amoral forces.
But Darwin's insight into the developmental factor in all life, deserves serious consideration, while noting that he rushed with an intellectually adolescent imagination into the vacuum created by the institutional church's failure to infer from scripture, the full glory-content of all existence, and as nature abhors a vacuum, the vacuum attracted to itself a counterfeiting explanation of where life came from, and to where it is going. The true developmental factor within God's universe is particularly evident by the fact that the original man, formed of the dust of the ground, was not God's final human creation, but rather, the eonian BEGINNING of God's development of the full, true Humanness gathered together, and summed up in Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord.
We must not insist that both the formation of man, and God breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, all happened in a few moments of time. (please note before I go further, that God breathed into "his" nostrils." God did not breathe into a mere body with nostrils ----"His nostrils;" "HIS NOSTRILS." Got it?) It was a man into whose nostrils God breathed the breath of life, not just a body. The scripture-record does NOT say, "and breathed into the body's nostril's the breath of life."
We don't know how much time was involved between God's forming of the man, and the Divine-in breathing that caused him to become a living soul. Whatever may be your understanding of the dimension of soul in our humanity, I think the reader should consider just what might have been an overlooked, essential element of that which is soulical.
Before going any further, I want to pause and acknowledge a certain development-factor in the writing of this article, that arose from Jonathan Mitchell so helpfully pointing out, after reading my first draft, that in Genesis 1:20, and 24, in the original Hebrew of the text, the word commonly translated as "creatures (plural), is the same word (singular), commonly translated as "soul" in 2:7 in respect to forming man.
After much pondering, my attention became particularly focused upon the fact that the word is first used within the following contextual picture: "Let the waters teem with SWARMS of living creature" (emphasis, mine ["swarms" as per at least the NAS, and AMP] ) As mysterious as "soul" is to define, I see in this a communal quality that we ought to particularly associate with that which is soulical. This quality, granted, is seen more in some species than in others (for instance, lions are very communal, tigers are minimally so, at best).
It would seem that man's existence before God breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, and so making him to become a living soul, did not have that quality, though he existed certainly on a level above the plant kingdom, with unique intelligence and the potential for his existence to take on the communal quality of "living soul." He was very much "a loner" at that point. The way in which the biblical record shows him become a living soul, stands in stark contrast to how it describes the creation of the "souls" that teemed in the waters (1: 20) and those upon the earth (1:24). Only with the regard to the man, do we see that face-to-face, or mouth-to-nostrils way of life-giving that bespeaks a most special Divine elective attentiveness.
The infusion of the Divine Breath implies the bestowal of a crown of personhood upon his creaturehood, and so, caused the man to take on that likeness of God which is self-knowing, self-aware, in a way beyond the rest of the animal kingdom. God revealed Himself to Moses as I AM.
That's primal self-knowledge, the Source of all self-awareness that needs no instruction re: His identity. God IS, and He knows that He IS; knows what He is, and Who He is, and in sharing that by His breath, Adam became a living soul. The quite common description of the soul rather simplistically as mind, emotion and will leaves much to be desired. There is, to me, more of a suggestion of ontological connection of self-aware, self-distinguished personhood with that of God Himself.
It now seems to me, that there was a pre-existent man, relative to the one who became a living soul, that God started with in His creation of the full humanness of His design and purpose. Please understand, to repeat, that I'm speaking of our sharing of creaturehood with all creation, our eonian existence, not the eternal being we have in the Being of God. Some of us are just too spiritual, so to speak. We want to only glorify man too simplistically as being purely, distinctively spirit, without studying the development of spirit into full, embodied humanness, and of that humanness' bodily return to the glory from which it has proceeded.
There may have been long ages between man's original formation from the dust of the ground, and that moment when God breathed into that man's nostrils His Divine Life. He may have been given his start as a humanoid species of God's creation possessed of such a degree of natural intelligence, grace and beauty, as to stand out from, and attract the admiration of all creation, having about his existence, an undeniable prediction of that which all creation longed for, especially indicated by way the text describes the very personally attentive way God formed him, in contrast to all other living creatures. (Pardon me belaboring that point so.) Out from that species, God ELECTED one to become His especially beloved Adam. It would do us well to consider that nature of Divine election which delights in starting with very common material.