Re: death and sin

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Sun Mar 04 2001 - 16:09:24 EST

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    Hi George

    More than two weeks ago you wrote the following reply to some comments I made on sin and
    death in Augustine's thought.

    george murphy wrote:

    > It also should not be assumed that the Christian tradition has uniformly
    > taught that physical death for humans came about only through sin. In _On the
    > Incarnation_ Athanasius seems to say (though he not explicit about it) that the first
    > humans, if they had not sinned, would have experienced physical but not spiritual
    > death on their way to their ultimate state of incorruption in heaven. Admittedly he
    > was helped toward this view by the overly-literal Septuagint of Gen.2:17, which
    > renders the emphatic Hebrew _moth tamuth_, "you shall surely die", as "dying you shall
    > die". So he can say, "But by 'dying ye shall die,' what else could be meant than not
    > dying merely, but also abiding ever in the corruption of death?"
    > As this suggests, the overriding human problem for the Greek fathers, was
    > not simply physical death but the "coming apart" involved in corruption. On this see
    > my article "Time, Thermodynamics, and Theology" (Zygon 26, 359, 1991).

    Interesting that the Greek father's saw decay as being worse than dying. I have been
    stewing this over on the back burner as it were, and have wondered if there is a
    connection between this literal meaning of Genesis 2:17 and Revelation 20:15 which speaks
    of the 2nd death. This verse separates physical death, which ultimately destroyed or
    defeated, from the 2nd death, the final separation from God. Is it too much to see in
    this an echo of the literal meaning of Genesis 2:17, where the consequences of
    disobedience is another death death in dying, or Genesis 2:17 a foreshadowing of
    Revelation 2:15?



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