Morna Hooker on Adam-Typology in the Philippian Christ-Hymn (2:5-11)

Commentators on Philippians have long debated whether we should (and can) read Adam typology into the Christ Hymn of Philippians (2:5-11). Is Christ an anti-Adam in this story? Many scholars err on the side of caution – there is no clear verbal parallel between Phil 2 and Genesis 1-3. It would be typological and thematic, but it is not a perfect comparison/contrast because Adam was (only) human, Jesus was more than human. In that sense, we wouldn’t be looking at apples and apples.

I appreciate the caveats and we should not over-blow the potential parallels, but I am still convinced (with Wright and M. Hooker) that it would have been hard for Torah-aware readers not to think about Adam (whether Paul, the author, or the readers the letter was sent to). Thus, I find Hooker’s interpretation convincing overall, despite lack of verbal connections and the obvious differences between Jesus and Adam.

“The relationship between Adam and Christ is not that of two successive competitors in a task, the first of whom fails while the second succeeds. Rather, Christ has to undo the failure of Adam, reverse his disobedience, and bring life where Adam brought death. Christ is thus greater than Adam…Christ is the true ‘image of God,’ after whom Christians are now being re-created, while Adam is the distorted copy, whose disobedience resulted in humanity’s becoming enslaved to sin and death.” (“Philippians” NIB, 504-5).
What are the liabilities of this reading, other than potentially taking too many hermeneutical liberties with the text?