One of the main objections that Christians have in eliminating the historicity of Adam is the resultant chaos it would cause with many of our most ingrained Christian doctrines; total depravity, the dominance of men over women, the condemnation of creation and the introduction of death and sin into the world. These themes are omnipresent, in one way or another, throughout orthodox, Christian theology.
So...if there is no Adam...there is no need for Christ...if there is no need for Christ..then there is no need for Christianity.
But how did we get here, theologically-speaking? Before Paul's exposition of Jesus as the new/last Adam inaugurating a new creation and a new paradigm and remaking the cosmos, where was Adam? He is absent from almost all of Old Testament scripture outside of Genesis. There are no veiled references to him. There are no Psalms that mention him. There is no hint of him anywhere, and there is even less of a hint, if it were possible, of Eve's existence.
Every once in a while, Eden gets a mention as a comparison to the good life in the prophets, but other than the brief invocation of a beautiful garden, the events that took place in the story and the main characters within it are largely absent.
That may not seem like a big deal. After all the Israelites had the book of Genesis, why do they need to keep referring to Adam and Eve? Well, it creates a void of religious thought in regards to human origins in Judaism.
The Creation is frequently referenced through the Sabbath, mirroring the tale in Genesis of God's six-day work week, with one day off to rest and enjoy his work, so there is always an echo of the Creation Story in the rhythm of Israelite life, but it is an echo that provides structure to life and to a theology of God as Creator of Life. There is no continuing echo from Adam in the Scriptures.
This seems strange when one considers how often Abraham, Jacob, and Moses find their way into the prophets, the psalms, and the histories in the Old Testament. How did someone who became so important to Christian theology fall through the cracks of ancient Jewish theology?
The answer is found in Paul. It isn't until Paul enters the scene that the Creation Story gets a fleshed-out theological treatment. Paul either believed in a historical Adam, or at the very least believed in the force of the image of a historical Adam, and that is where things get dicey, because Paul is the great explicator of Christian theology. If it weren't for Paul, there would be no direct comparison of Jesus to Adam and no theological dilemma in viewing Adam as a figurative person.
As a matter of fact, the only other source that links Adam and Jesus is the gospel of Luke, which ends Jesus' genealogy with "Adam, Son of God". This is also the same Luke who, according to Acts, traveled extensively with Paul, so we can't take Luke's reference as independent theologizing about Adam, and Adam's ties to Jesus, because it is likely that he received the idea from Paul, not from general Jewish consensus at the time.
Jesus refers to Creation in Mark 10:5-9:
5"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. 6"But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 7'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."Other than that, there is no overt reference to the Creation Story and Adam and Eve.
There are frequently people who emphasize that Paul was not moving away from Judaism when he converted to Christianity and began his ministry as an evangelist and apostle. Yet, in the context of what Paul says about Jesus being the last Adam and that those who follow Jesus will be part of a new creation that supersedes the old creation and the old covenant, he is making a striking break with Judaism, because Judaism never believed that there was a need for a new creation. Their hope for a Messiah was firmly rooted in a hope for a historical solution to their persecution under the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Romans.
In many ways, Paul is making a theological end run on Judaism. He doesn't need to answer their criticisms, or justify Christianity in terms of Mosaic Law or Tradition, because he has already declared that the old world and the old way of life are dead, pushed aside by Christ; the new and perfect Adam. And we see Paul use this tactic in removing the commands of the Mosaic Law in Galatians and Romans. He declares that those ways are the old ways which have served their purpose, but which are no longer relevant.
Paul has found a long-lost relative in Adam, and a useful illustration for what he views Christianity to be about, a completely new age initiated by God.
I might add more to this later.....