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Question 1

Is the Hebrew word for man in Genesis 1:26–27 a personal name or a generic term for humanity?

In Genesis 1:26–27, the Hebrew word, which is translated as man in our English versions, is adam. Adam is sometimes used as the name of the first man (Gen. 5:1, 3-5). But in Genesis 1:26–27, adam is used in the generic sense for humanity, including male and female. Adam also underscores man’s connection with the ground, since the Hebrew word for “ground” is adamah (see Gen. 2:7). As careful readers of Scripture, we can use the context to determine whether adam is a personal name or a generic term for humanity, as in both Genesis 1:26–27 and 5:2.

BY Dr. Winfred O. Neely

Dr. Winfred Neely (B.A., D.Min. Trinity International University; M.A. Wheaton) is currently working towards an advanced research degree in Old Testament at the University of Bristol, England. He is an ordained minister of the Gospel and a full-time professor of hermeneutics, homiletics, and pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Prior to joining the faculty at Moody, Winfred served churches in the City of Chicago and is currently interim pastor of the Judson Baptist Church in Oak Park, IL. He brings to his ministry a global perspective, having served as a missionary/pastor in Senegal, West Africa for nine years. He is also involved in a global equipping ministry, speaking and conducting workshops and training events at churches and conferences in the US and abroad. He and his wife Stephne have been married for forty years and have four adult children and nine grandchildren. He takes acting classes from time to time and is an ardent fan of science fiction films such as Star Wars and Star Trek.

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