Re: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real person?)

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Wed Apr 16 2008 - 19:21:45 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Wallace" <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 4:19 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Who do Adam & Eve represent? (Was: Was Adam a real person?)

> D. F. Siemens, Jr. wrote:
>> I wonder if we have been trying to put too much of a historical and
>> causal interpretation on original sin. I think the common Hebrew term
>> translated "sin" means "error." /chat/, etc. The common Greek term is
>> /hamartia/, missing the mark. In other words, we are dealing with moral
>> imperfection, a necessary consequence of finitude. The Fall was the
>> ancient explanation for this consequence of finitude in keeping with the
>> broad tradition of a Golden Age.
> Equating finitude and original sin seems to me to imply that humans will
> always be sinful unless your eschatology includes making humans none finite.

I agree with Dave W. Finitude in this context just means being a creature & that is not in itself sinful.

& sin is 1st of all a theological issue, having to do with our relationship with God, not a moral one having to do with our relationship with other creatures.
> George Murphy wrote:
> > Yes, there are views on the "transmission" of Adam's sin that range from
> > a hard Augustinian hereditary view & a soft Pelagian exemplary view.
> > (In saying that I am not trying to characterize the views of Augustine
> > or Pelagius precisely.) For myself, I think that some combination is
> > appropriate, corresponding to the idea (P. Hefner) of the human as a
> > "symbiosis" of biology & culture.
> >
> > But the question of transmission is really a 2d order one. It certainly
> > makes a difference in the way we try to develop a coherent theological
> > anthroplogy &, because of that, understanding of atonement. But it
> > isn't central. What is central is the reality & seriousness of our "sin
> > of origin" - i.e., the sinful state in which each one of us originates.
> > & that doesn't require an understanding of how that sin of origin is
> > related to original sin in the sense of the first human sin.
> I would agree that the method of transmission is at best a 2nd order
> concern and wonder if it is not 3rd or 4th order.

It depends on what you're trying to do. If you aren't concenred about a coherent theological anthropology then it's of little importance.
> The reason I would argue for the effect of the fall being more than just
> loss of potential is:
> 1.It seems to me that the curse in Genesis on man and woman has to have
> some meaning even if early Genesis is treated as a parable.

Start with the 1st curse in Gen.3, on the snake. Do we have to think that snakes lost something - e.g., their legs - when humanity sinned?

Being legless is part of being a snake. Pain in childbirth is part of being human - i.e., babies having big brains. Sweating when you work in the fields also comes from the kinds of creatures we are. The real effect of sin is rupture of relationships - the man blames the woman & indirectly God (the woman whom you gave to be with me) & the woman blames the snake. & this disruption of relations colors our perceptions of our natural conditions.
> 2.With out some effect it makes the argument for a good God just that
> much harder. I know George will tell me to look at the cross of Christ
> but sometimes that answer seems less than satisfying. Maybe God enjoys
> suffering?
I did not say that sin had no effect or that the effect was only potential. Somehow God had revealed something of Godself and God's will to people and thus initiated a relationship that God intended to grow. Humanity - no doubt with little comprehension of what it was doing - rejected turned away from that possibility. It lost whatever that initial relationship was (and as I said, we know virtually nothing of what that meant in the minds of the 1st humans) but also lost the opportunity for the kind of growth God intended. If somebody tells you (in some situation that might be appropriate) "I love you" and you reply, "Go to hell," you've lost something real and have lost the possibility that that could grow into something greater.


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Received on Wed Apr 16 19:31:09 2008

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