Re: Human origins and doctrine

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Thu Feb 28 2002 - 01:54:29 EST

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    Keith Miller writes, in response to Adrian Teo"
    > How is Christ's righteousness imputed to us? - by grace through faith.
    > There is some act of the will on my part involved. I must willingly
    > that offer of grace. What if we make a parallel with the transmission of
    > sin? When I am born I am innocent (I do not mean righteous). However, at
    > the first opportunity I choose to be disobedient - I sin and come under
    > curse of Adam which is spiritual death. Thus, Adam's curse is imputed to
    > me by my sharing in his sin, just as Christ's righteousness is imputed to
    > me by faith. "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man
    > and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all
    > sinned" (Rom 5:12). My reading is that there are none who are without sin
    > except Christ, thus there are none who are morally righteous yet still
    > condemned by Adam's sin. We are condemned because we sin. Therefore I do
    > not understand that sin itself is something that is passed on thru direct
    > descent.

    Keith's reading and interpretation of Rom. 5:12 on this matter interests me
    in light of the fact that this passage has been the focus of some scholars
    who have examined the debate between Julian of Eclanum and Augustine of
    Hippo on original sin. The conflict between the two centered in large part
    on the way Augustine read and interpreted Rom. 5:12. Several scholars,
    according to Elaine Pagels, have argued that Augustine's translation was not
    accurate according to the original Greek (_Adam, Eve, and the Serpent_, p.
    143). Not having read her sources I'm puzzled by this assertion in one
    respect, that it is my understanding that Augustine could not read Greek. I
    do not know it for a fact, but most likely he would have used one of the Old
    Latin recensions as his text for Paul. Perhaps these scholars are referring
    to the Latin text he used as "Augustine's translation."

        Jerome's Vulgate version of the NT was practically identical to the Old
    Latin, so my analysis is based on editions of his version. The English
    version Keith cites accurately conveys the meaning of the Greek of Rom.
    5:12; and so does the Latin version adopted in some editions of the Vulgate.
    The crux is with the phrase translated, "because all have sinned" [the verb
    "hemarton" is aorist]. The preferred reading of the Latin is "eo quod,"
    meaning "in that [i.e., because]," to correctly render the Greek "eph' ho."
    There are, however, manuscripts of the Latin text that give an alternate
    reading, which has been adopted in at least one modern edition of the
    Vulgate: "in quo" for "eo quod," and "in quo" means "in whom." Augustine
    might well have had a copy with this variant, and so he read Romans 5:12 as
    "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through
    sin, and in this way death came to all men, IN WHOM all have sinned." He
    naturally interpreted the "whom" to be Adam. And he interpreted this text
    to mean that sin, and the death that issues from sin, was passed down from
    Adam through his descendents. Julian vigorously objected to this reading
    and interpretation. I don't have access to his Latin text to verify, but he
    might have had a recension of the Latin with "eo quod." In any case, I
    think that Julian would have agreed entirely with Keith that the passage
    does not mean "that sin itself is something that is passed on thru direct

        We're all aware of how differing doctrines arise over differences of
    interpretation of a text of Scripture. Here's a critical difference in
    doctrine that may well have arisen because of a variant in the recension of
    the text itself.

    Grace and peace,
    Bob Schneider

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