Adam (ădˈəm) [key], [Heb., = man], in the Bible, the first man. In the Book of Genesis, God creates humankind in his image as a species of male and female, giving them dominion over other life. Elsewhere in Genesis, however, Adam is the personal name of the first man for whom the created order is then fashioned. From his body, Eve is made to be his helper and partner. After the Fall, i.e., their disobedience, they are expelled from the Garden of Eden. The Qur'an depicts Adam's creation and fall. These traditions led to the monotheistic ideas regarding sin and grace. For examples of Jewish and Islamic legends about the biblical accounts, see Lilith and Pseudepigrapha. Higher criticism regards chapters 1–4 of Genesis as the re-workings of Babylonian and Canaanite myths concerning creation. While the myths stress human servitude to the gods, Genesis places humankind at the center of the created order, over which it exercises dominion as God's agent.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.