Of stones, men and angels: The competing myth of Isabelle Duncan's pre-adamite man (1860)

Published within weeks of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, Isabelle Duncan's Pre-Adamite Man (1860) is the first full-length treatment of preadamism by an evangelical. Intended as a reconciliation of Genesis and geology, Duncan's work gained immediacy when it was published shortly after the September 1859 revelations that men had walked among the mammoths. Written in the tradition of evangelical 'Christian philosophy', Pre-Adamite Man deploys innovative biblical hermeneutics and recent trends in geology to set out both a biblical preadamite theory, and an unorthodox angelology. Duncan responded to contemporary secular interpretations of geology by pushing evangelical concordist strategies to new frontiers, filling out an acceptance of an ancient earth with new biblically informed catastrophist proposals and extensions of salvation history, while simultaneously retaining a firm commitment to plenary inspiration. The product is a highly readable book that operates both as an accessible treatment of geology and a theological discourse. Running through six printings between 1860 and 1866, the book was reviewed by many of the period's leading journals and created a minor controversy among evangelicals. This study both brings to life this previously neglected episode in scriptural geology, and adds to recent work on Victorian popular science writing.
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