Hebrew for ‘man’; and the first of his kind according to the OT. There are two accounts of the creation in Genesis. In the first (1: 1–2: 4a, P), man and woman are created in the image of God, which means that human beings (Adam in Hebrew is a collective noun, meaning ‘humanity’) have a responsibility before God, unlike the animals: men and women are created together (1: 27) and are complementary to each other, and each have a freedom to obey or disobey God's will. In the second story (2: 4b–25, J), ‘Adam’ as a personal name is regarded as the chief of all created beings by being placed first in order; woman is created later, for man is incomplete without her.
In the NT Adam is accepted as an historical person; but, more importantly, he is a symbol for understanding Christ. While the genealogy of Jesus is traced back to Adam by Luke (3: 38), Paul (Rom. 5: 12ff.) contrasts the first Adam of Genesis, who was disobedient, with the ‘last Adam’, Christ, who was obedient. All mankind, who are in solidarity with Adam, are corrupt and sinful; but through faith in Christ they receive life and grace and the hope of resurrection (1 Cor. 15: 21–2). In Paul's argument the human experience of new life has been made possible by the events of recent history, namely the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.