MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE that according to the Bible, there has been a cosmic Fall as a result of the sin of the first humans, and death was a consequence of this supposed Fall. Many such approaches to scripture are lamentably lacking in theological sophistication. In certain respects, some of the approaches recommended by no doubt sincere religious believers are more consonant with atheism than with the orthodox Christian tradition of scriptural interpretation.As those of you that read this blog know, this is something that I have been struggling with for quite some time—the idea that modern protestant fundamentalist evangelical Christianity has really gone off the rails and is flirting with some very unsound doctrine. That frustration really came home to me a few weeks ago.
Interestingly, he points out a passage that has great significance for the position advocating the existence of a historical Adam. In the NIV, Romans 5:12 reads:
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—”However, according to Cunningham, the original Greek reads:
“Death came to all insofar as all sinned”When we add the first part of the passage to the text, it takes on completely new meaning, firmly rooting Adam in a place and time. Without that preface, original sin takes on a more generally Eastern Orthodox flavor in which all are born with the capacity and inclination to sin but not actually “in sin” as protestant theology has generally come to understand the concept. Sin was separation from God, which leads to decay.
The article is a bit slow-going in places and I don't agree with all of his conclusions but I would recommend it if you can find it.
1Cunningham, C. (2010). What Genesis doesn't say. Christian Century, 127(23), 22-25.
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