Genesis 1-2 Deleted Scenes #9: God created two Adams

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In the image of God he created him; The Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth

—Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:7

Some midrash report that God created two Adams: one who was not made from dust but stamped in the image of God, and the other made from the dust of the earth.[1] The former was placed in the garden of Paradise in heaven while the former, our Adam, was placed in the garden of Paradise on earth. The notion of two Adams derived from a seeming contradiction between the two creation accounts in Genesis where different things are said about man’s creation – an explanation reflected in the works of the first century Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria. It was Philo’s belief that something made in God’s image must be very much like its Creator, far transcendent to human beings. He concluded therefore that the figure created in Genesis 1:27 was not the same as the man created in Genesis 2:7. Philo identifies the transcendent figure as the Heavenly Man, as God’s invisible image, and as God’s Logos, identifying the Logos as the “eldest-born Image of God” (De Confusione Linguarum 62-63). Thus, for Philo, the earthly man was made after the image of the Heavenly Man.

But why two gardens? In rabbinic literature, the term Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) came to be equated with heavenly Paradise not necessarily on earth. By believing that God had created two Adams, one above and one below, it solved the debate for some rabbis as to whether Paradise was on earth or in heaven.

Other versions of the two Adam myth exist, such as the idea that the first Adam was created for this world while the second Adam was created for the world to come (Midrash Tanhuma). In other words, the second Adam is the Messiah whose arrival will spark the End of Days. This belief is reflected in the writings of the Apostle Paul who identified Jesus as the second Adam, the one who was sent to give us the eternal life that the first Adam took away (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Sources and Further Reading

[1] Schwartz, Howard. Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism (p. 124-126).

Primary sources: B. Hagigah 12a; B. Bava Batra 58a; Pesikta Rabbati 48:2; Philo, De Opificio Mundi 134-142; Philo, Legum Allegoriarum 1:31, 1:53, 1:88, 2:13, 2:4; Philo, De Confusione Linguarum 62-63; Midrash Tanhuma, Tazri’a 2.


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