In my last two post I have discussed Jesus’ view of Adam according to the Gospels: What did Jesus know and how did he know it? and Collins and Enns on the “historicity” of Adam (Pt. 14). It seems to me that these are the options we have when it comes to understanding Jesus’ teachings regarding Adam from Matthew 19.3-9 and Mark 10.2-9:
(1) Jesus was an average human (not divine nor directly informed by the divine, though maybe quite superior to others as a prophet) and therefore it makes sense that as a first century man he would have been wrong on human origins. Of course this is not an option for traditional Christians.
(2) Jesus was an average human who was also divine in some sense, but his divinity was so integrated into his humanity that he would have believed things that other first century Jews believed–like a historical Adam–even if he was wrong. This might fit within a Kenosis Christology based on Phil. 2.5-11, but it is hard to reconcile with the Jesus presented in the Gospels, especially the Johannine Jesus who receives his teachings from God the Father.
(3) Jesus used Adam like someone might use “Huck Finn.” We know he wasn’t “real” but he helps serve our purpose if people understand his “character.” In these passages Jesus doesn’t name “Adam” but mentions a first human. That makes it a tad harder to argue for a literary “Adam” (as some do with Paul in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15).
(4) The Evangelists got this one wrong and Jesus never said this nor we don’t know what Jesus thought of Adam. What we find in Matthew and Mark should be attributed to their views, not Jesus’. Of course, this is difficult to argue because we have to have a reason for why we doubt Jesus said this.
(5) Jesus was informed by God through the Spirit as regards what he taught and therefore we should submit to his authority regarding Adam even if we don’t know how this meets modern science. It seems that this could cause problems considering that those affiliated with the Human Genome Project seem to be quite convinced that a “first man” is contrary to evidence. One would have to stand by their Christology assuming that the science of human origins is right about a lot but the “unknown” elements are enough to maintain a “first man.”
(6) Someone might argue along with (5) that modern science gets human origins wrong altogether.
I imagine that there are other variances so feel free to share.