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Fall

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It is now generally recognized by scholars that the story of the Fall in Genesis is to be regarded neither as literal history, as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Augustine taught, nor as allegory, as Clement and Origen, following Philo, held; but as a myth, common to the Semitic group of religions, in which an attempt is made to explain the origin of the evils from which mankind suffers. This myth has, however, been transformed to bring it into accord with the ‘ethical monotheism’ or the Hebrew religion. For the present purpose, the exposition of the apostolic (in this case exclusively the Pauline) doctrine, it is not necessary to examine any alleged similar myth in other religions, to cite any of the supposed Babylonian parallels, to enter into the details of the narrative in Genesis, or to exhibit the truth under the mythological form, which expositors have found in the story (For all these particulars the articles in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) i. 839, Hastings’ Single-vol. Dictionary of the Bible p. 257, and Dict. of Christ and the Gospels i. 571 may be consulted).

There is no evidence that the teaching of the OT as a whole on the subject of sin was in the slightest degree affected by the narrative in fin 3, as the instances cited to the contrary disappear on closer scrutiny; but the universality of man’s sinfulness is asserted as a fact, although no reason for it is offered. It is only when we come to the apocryphal Jewish literature that the story is given the significance of doctrine. Although, as the evidence from this source shows, Jewish theology in the time of Jesus had taken up the question of the origin of sin and death, yet in the teaching of Jesus there is not the faintest echo of Jewish thought upon the subject. His standpoint is that of the OT, although His revelation of God’s Father-hood and man’s sonship gives to the sin which separates God and man a more tragic import. St. Paul, however, has given a place in his theology to this contemporary Jewish doctrine, and, on account of the light it throws upon his teaching, it will be necessary to examine it more closely.

1. The connexion of St. Paul’s doctrine with Jewish teaching.-(a) While in the OT we have the beginnings, but only the beginnings, of the later doctrine of Satan (Job 1:9-12; Job 2:1-6, the unbeliever in, and slanderer of, man’s goodness and godliness Zechariah 3:1, the adversary of man to hinder God’s grace; 1 Chronicles 21:1, the tempter; cf. 2 Samuel 24:1, where it is the Lord who moves David to number the people), yet it is not till we come to Wisdom of Solomon 2:24 that he is identified with the serpent who tempted Eve: ‘But by the envy of the devil death entered into the world, and they that are of his portion mate trial thereof. This identification is assumed in Romans 16:20 and Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2 and is also implied in John 8:44 (cf. 1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:12).

(b) Woman’s share in this tragedy for the race is mentioned in Sirach 25:24 : ‘From a woman was the beginning of sin; and because of her we all die.’ Of this detail of the narrative St. Paul also makes use by way of warning: ‘But I fear, leer by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ’ (2 Corinthians 11:3). It is not impossible that in this allusion St. Paul has in view the opinion of apocalyptic and Rabbinic writers that the temptation was to unchastity.

‘The thought which pervades this passage is that of conjugal loyalty and fidelity to one husband, and it is difficult to resist the conclusion to which Everling (Die Paulinische Angelologie u. Dämonologie, 51-57) comes in his able discussion of the passage, that the mention of Eve in this connexion in a clause introduced by ὡς, makes it necessary to understand the sin into which she was betrayed as similar to that into which the Corinthian Church is, figuratively speaking, in danger of falling, namely, unchastity and infidelity to her husband’ (H. St. J. Thackeray, The Relation of St. Paul to Contemporary Jewish Thought, 1900, p. 52; cf. Tennant, The Fall and Original Sin, 1903, p. 251).

If this was St. Paul’s belief, it adds force to his argument for woman’s subordination in 1 Timothy 2:14 ‘Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression.’ Here again St. Paul is either echoing, or in accord with, Jewish thought, for in the Slavonic Secrets of Enoch, xxxi. 6, we read: ‘And on this account he [Satan] conceived designs against Adam; in such a manner he entered [into Paradise] and deceived Eve. But he did not touch Adam’ (cf. Thackeray, op. cit. pp. 51, 52). Such an opinion would explain the harshness of his tone and the hardness of his dealing with women.

(c) These are, however, subordinate features of the narrative; but St. Paul is, in his assertion of human depravity, not only in accord with some of the sayings in the OT, but with such explicit teaching as is found in 2Ezr 4:11 ‘How can he that is already worn out with the corrupted world understand incorruption,’ and 2Ezr 7:68 ‘For all that are born are defiled with iniquities, and are full of sins and laden with offences.’ But such a view does not seem to have been universal, for Edersheim says expressly of the teaching of the Talmud: ‘So far as their opinions can be gathered from their writings, the great doctrines of Original Sin, and of the sinfulness of our whole nature, were not held by the ancient Rabbis’ (LT [Note: T Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Edersheim).] 4, 1887, i. 165; cf. Sanday-Headlam, Romans 5 [International Critical Commentary , 1902], p. 137).

(d) Man’s present racial condition is traced back to Adam’s fall (παράπτωμα; Wisdom of Solomon 10:1 ‘Wisdom guarded to the end the first formed father of the world, that was created alone, and delivered him out of his own transgression’). The teaching in Romans 5:12-21 is very fully anticipated in 2 Esdras 3:21-22 : ‘For the first Adam bearing a wicked heart transgressed, and was overcome; and not he only, but all they also that are born of him. Thus disease was made permanent; and the law was in the heart of the people along with the wickedness of the root; so the good departed away, and that which was wicked abode still’; 2 Esdras 4:30 ‘For a grain of evil seed was sown in the heart of Adam from the beginning, and how much wickedness hath it brought forth unto this time! and how much shall it yet bring forth until the time of threshing come!’; 7:118 ‘O thou Adam, what hast thou done? for though it was thou that sinned, the evil is not fallen on thee alone, but upon all of us that come of thee.’ While it is generally assumed that in these passages man’s moral corruption in the sense of inherited depravity is traced to Adam’s transgression as its cause, yet Tennant maintains that the available evidence does not support the view.

‘The only parallels adduced by Sanday and Headlam from approximately contemporary literature are the passages of 4 Ezra [the passages given above] relating to the cor malignum. But the cor malignum is certainly the yezer hara of the Rabbis, regarded by Pseudo-Ezra, as well as by talmudic writers, as inherent in Adam from the first, and as the cause, not the consequence, of his fall. St. Paul, curiously enough, nowhere appears to make use of the current doctrine of the evil yezer; certainly not in connexion with the Fall. There would seem to be no evidence that St. Paul held, even in germ, the doctrine of an inherited corruption derived from Adam’ (op. cit. p. 264f.).

To the explicit challenge of a common understanding of St. Paul’s doctrine we must return when dealing with it in detail in the next section; but meanwhile it may be made clear that it is not the assertion of a connexion between Adam’s fall and man’s sinfulness which is denied in these passages, but the inference from them that Adam’s fall is regarded as the cause of moral depravity, and not merely as its first instance.

Support is given to this interpretation of the evidence by Weber’s summary of the teaching of the Talmud (Altsyn. Theol. p. 216, quoted by Sanday-Headlam, op. cit. p. 137): ‘By the Fall man came under a curse, is guilty of death, and his right relation to God is rendered difficult. More than this cannot be said. Sin, to which the bent and leaning had already been planted in man by creation, had become a fact; the “evil impulse” (= cor malignum) gained the mastery over mankind, who can only resist it by the greatest efforts; before the Fall it had had power over him, but no such ascendancy (Uebermacht).’ After this quotation Sanday-Headlam continue the discussion in the words: ‘Hence when the writer says a little further on that according to the Rabbis “there is such a thing as transmission of guilt, but not such a thing as transmission of sin (Es gibt eine Erbschuld, aber keine Erbsünde),” the negative proposition is due chiefly to the clearness with which the Rabbis (like Apoc. Baruch) insist upon free-will and direct individual responsibility’ (op. cit. p. 137f.).

The conclusion to which one is led is that a common doctrine cannot be confidently affirmed; and that if St. Paul does teach that man’s moral nature was changed for the worse by the Fall, he is not following a clearly expressed and generally accepted Jewish doctrine on the subject. The bearing of his distinctive doctrine of the flesh on, and the meaning of, 1 Corinthians 15:47-48 in relation to the Jewish doctrine of the cor malignum must be reserved for subsequent discussion, while the feature referred to in the above quotation may here be illustrated.

(e) There can be no doubt of the distinctness and emphasis with which Jewish thought insists on man’s individual responsibility, sometimes even, it would seem, in opposition to the view of a moral solidarity of the race, as the following passages show: 2 Esdras 3:26 ‘In all things doing even as Adam and all his generation had done: for they also bare a wicked heart’; 8:59, 60 ‘The Most High willed not that man should come to nought: but they which be created have themselves defiled the name of him that made them, and were unthankful unto him which prepared life for them’; 9:11, 12 ‘As many as have scorned my law, while they had yet liberty, and, when as yet place of repentance was open unto them, understood not, but despised it; the same must know it after death by torment.’ The strongest assertion of the exclusion of the derivation of any guilt from Adam is found, however, in Apoc. Bar. liv. 15, 19: ‘For though Adam first sinned and brought untimely death upon all, yet of those who were born from him each one of them has prepared for his own soul torment to come, and again each of them has chosen for himself glories to come.… Adam is therefore not the cause, save only of his own soul, but each one of us has been the Adam of his own soul’ (Charles’s translation in Apoc. and Pseudepig. of the OT, 1913, ii. 511f.). While St. Paul is constant in his assertion of individual liberty, yet he does not think of opposing it to, or trying to harmonize it with, the common sin of the race, sprung from Adam. Either he was not conscious of any contradiction, or regarded it as a problem insoluble by man’s wisdom.

(f) On the connexion between Adam’s sin and the introduction of death there is no such uncertainty in the evidence. The curse that rests on man since the Fall is mentioned in Sirach 40:1 : ‘Great travail is created for many men, and a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam.’ The connexion between death and the woman’s sin stated in 25:24 and between death and the devil’s envy affirmed in Wisdom of Solomon 2:24 has already been referred to. More explicit is the reference to the narrative of Genesis in 2 Ezra 3:7 : ‘And unto him thou gavest thy one commandment: which he transgressed, and immediately thou appointedst death for him and in his generation.’ So also the Apoc. Bar. xvii. 3: ‘Adam … brought death and cut off the years of those who were born from him’ (cf. xxiii. 4). There are two passages, however, that seem to teach that man was by nature mortal, and that the Fall only hastened the process; ‘Adam first sinned and brought untimely death (mortem immaturam) upon all’ (liv. 15); and ‘Owing to his transgression untimely death (mors quae non erat tempore eius) came into being’ (lvi. 6). Apart from the two classical passages in St. Paul’s letter on the relation of Christ and Adam in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, which must be discussed in detail, death is connected with sin as its penalty in Romans 6:23 ‘The wages of sin is death,’ and in James 1:15 ‘Sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death.’ We must now pass to the discussion of St. Paul’s doctrine of the Fall.

2. St. Paul’s doctrine of the Fall.-Although the classical passage on the subject is Romans 5:12-21, yet there are references to Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:49 which may be briefly examined in so far as they present doctrine supplementary to that in Romans 5.

(a) 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 states the same doctrine. The contrast is emphasized in 1 Corinthians 15:45 by the description of the first Adam, in accordance with the account of his creation in Genesis 2:7, as living soul, while Christ, the last Adam, is a life-giving spirit. Adam was given life by the breath or spirit of God, but could not impart any; Christ not only has life, but gives it. The psychic order of the first Adam necessarily preceded the pneumatic order of the last (1 Corinthians 15:46): so far there is no moral censure of the first Adam implied, and the Apostle’s statement corrects an error into which theological speculation on man’s primitive condition often fell. ‘The Apostle,’ says Godet (ad loc.), ‘does not share the notion, long regarded as orthodox, that humanity was created in a state of moral and physical perfection.… Independently of the Fall, there must have been progress from an inferior state, the psychic, which he posits as man’s point of departure, to a superior state, the spiritual, foreseen and determined as man’s goal from the first’ (quoted by Findlay, Expositor’s Greek Testament , ‘1 Cor.,’ 1900, p. 938). This inferior state did not include for St. Paul the cor malignum, which Jewish thought assigned to Adam. It is not so certain that the next statement, ‘The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven’ (1 Corinthians 15:47), refers only to physical origin, and does not indicate moral character.

χοϊκός, as Philippians 3:19, Colossians 3:2 suggest, seems to have a moral connotation. But even if this be so, it does not make certain that St. Paul assigned the yezer hara to the unfallen Adam, as, since the reference in the ‘second man from heaven’ is not to the pre-existent Word, but to the Risen Lord, the contrast is between Adam fallen as the source of death to mankind and Christ risen as the fountain of its eternal life. If v. 49 be not merely a prediction, but an exhortation, as many ancient authorities attest (see Revised Version margin), this moral reference becomes certain. This whole passage, accordingly, does disprove the view that man’s primitive condition was one of such perfection that there was no need of progress; but it offers no support to the assumption that St. Paul regarded Adam’s position as so inferior morally that the Fall would to him appear as inevitable. As Romans 5:14 shows, he assigns to Adam a greater moral culpability than to his descendants before the Law was given, for he transgressed a definite commandment of God. Nor does St. Paul’s doctrine of the flesh (q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ) justify any such assumption about the moral defect of man’s state before the Fall, as it is not a physical, but an ethical, conception, and relates to mankind as it is for man’s present experience, not to any previous state of man. If we cannot, therefore, identify the flesh with the yezer hara of unfallen man, unless we leave in St. Paul’s system the antinomy of a two-fold origin of sinfulness, one individual, the other racial, we are forced to conclude that in some way he did connect the presence of the flesh in sinful mankind with the entrance of sin at the Fall.

(b) The further discussion of this topic brings us to the closer consideration of Romans 5:12-21. (α) The purpose of the passage must be clearly kept in view. St. Paul is not proving man’s universal sinfulness-he has done that by an empirical proof, a historical induction, in chs. 1-3; nor is he concerned to explain the origin of sin. He assumes as not needing any proof that man’s sinfulness is the result of Adam’s fall. From that fact he deduces the conclusion that one person can be so related to the race as to be the author to it of both sin and death. If that be so in the case of Adam, it can be and is so in the case of Christ as the Author of righteousness and life, and even so much more as Christ is superior to Adam. The purpose of the passage is to show that Christ can and does bring more blessing to man than Adam has brought curse. We go beyond what St. Paul’s own intention warrants in asserting that his doctrine of salvation in Christ rests on, and falls to the ground without, his teaching on the Fall. As his proof of the sinfulness of mankind is empirical, so his certainty of salvation in Christ is rooted in his experience, and not in tins opinions he shared with his contemporaries regarding the origin of sin. It is important at the outset of this discussion to assert this consideration, as it will relieve us of the painful anxiety, which many exponents of this passage hitherto have felt and shown, to justify in some sense or another this story of the fall, in spite of the origin criticism now assigns to it, as an essential constituent of Christian theology.

(β) In Romans 5:12 St. Paul affirms the entrance of sin into the world, and death as its penalty, as the result of Adam’s transgression, and the diffusion of death among mankind in consequence either of Adam’s sin alone, or of the spread of sin among all his descendants. There is this ambiguity about the meaning in the clause ‘for that all sinned,’ which is not only grammatically irregular, but seems even to be logically inconsistent. To fix his meaning we must examine his language very closely. The connective phrase ἐφʼ has been variously interpreted. It is improbable that is masculine and the antecedent either Adam or death; taking it as neuter, the rendering ‘because’ is more probable than ‘in like manner as’ or ‘in so far as.’ In what sense did ‘all sin’ (πάντες ἤμαρτον)?

(1) The Greek commentators take the obvious sense of the words, regarded apart from the context: ‘all as a matter of fact by their own choice committed sin.’ To this interpretation two objections from the context may be urged. Firstly, if individual death is the penalty of individual sin, Adam is not responsible for the sin or the death, and so there is no parallelism with Christ as the source of righteousness and life to all; but the purpose of the whole argument is to prove a connexion between Adam and the race similar to that between Christ and redeemed humanity. Secondly, in the next verse St. Paul goes on to show that till the time of Moses, in the absence of law, the descendants of Adam could not be held as blameworthy as Adam himself was; while sin was in the world it could not be imputed as personal guilt, incurring of itself, apart from the connexion with Adam, the penalty of death.

(2) Some connexion with Adam must be asserted; but of what kind? An explanation accepted by many commentators, while on grammatical grounds not rendering ἐφʼ ‘in whom’ but ‘because,’ yet treats the sentence as convening the equivalent meaning. Bengel presents this view in its classical expression: omnes peccarunt, Adamo peccante. If St. Paul had meant this, why did he not supply the words? it is often asked. But when we observe the irregularity of the structure of the very sentence, introducing such ambiguity into St. Paul’s meaning, we do not seem entitled to expect him to express himself with such logical precision. On this ground alone we must not set aside the explanation. But even if we accept it, what sense are we to attach to the statement that in Adam’s sin all sinned?

(i.) Firstly, there is the realistic explanation: that as Adam was the ancestor of the race, so all his descendants were physically included in him, even as Levi is represented to have paid tithes to Melchizedek ‘in the loins’ of Abraham (Hebrews 7:9-10). But such a physical explanation only increases the difficulty of understanding the connexion.

(ii.) Secondly, there is the legal explanation, so prominent in the federal theology of the Reformed Church. Adam acted, not for himself alone, but as representative of the race, and so the race shares the responsibility of his act. But to this explanation there is the obvious objection that a representative must be chosen by those for whom he acts, if they are to be in any sense responsible for his acts; and the race had no voice in the choice of its first ancestor. If the objection is met by appealing to a Divine appointment, the plea of injustice is not answered, but the will of God is represented as overriding the rights of man. In a Calvinistic theology alone could such an explanation carry conviction.

(iii.) Thirdly, the explanation more generally accepted is that from Adam all mankind has inherited a tendency to evil, which, while not abolishing individual liberty and responsibility so as to make individual transgression inevitable, yet as a fact of experience has resulted in the universal sinfulness of the race. This is the view of Sanday-Headlam (op. cit. p. 134), and they support it with the references to Jewish literature already noted. The writer of this article in his Commentary on Romans (Century Bible, 1901) accepted this conclusion. ‘Without expressly stating it, Paul assumes the doctrine of original sin in the sense of an inherited tendency to sin, for what he affirms beyond all doubt here is that both the sin and the death of the human race are the effects of Adam’s transgression’ (p. 154). A further study of the problem has led him, however, to recognize at least the possibility of another explanation. Tennant, who of modern writers has made this subject specially his own, in his three books, The Origin and Propagation of Sin (1902), The Sources of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin (1903), and The Concept of Sin (1912), has not only contended against the doctrine of such an inherited tendency, but has also maintained that this idea is not present in St. Paul’s mind in this passage. Referring to Sanday-Headlam’s objection to Bengal’s explanation that the words ‘in Adam’ would have been given had St. Paul intended that meaning, he presses a similar objection to their view.

‘That suggested by Dr. Sanday and Mr. Headlam, from whose weighty opinion it is here ventured to diverge, is an equally important element to be “supplied.” Indeed, it may be asked whether the idea of inherited sinfulness, as the cause of death to all who come between Adam and Moses, does not call at least as loudly for explicit mention, if St. Paul’s full meaning be expressible in terms of it, as that signified by Bengel’s addition of “in Adam”? Would it not be equally novel to the reader, so far as our knowledge of the thought of that age goes, and more remote from the actual language of the verse and its context?’ (The Fall and Original Sin, p. 261).

Reserving for subsequent treatment the wider issue of whether this is or is not an inherited tendency to evil, we must meanwhile look at the explanation Tennant himself alters of this verse.

(iv.) Though he rejects the realistic explanation in any form, either as already mentioned or as presented in Augustine’s theory ‘which makes human nature a certain quantum of being and treats descent from Adam as a division of this mass of human nature into parts’ (Stevens, The Pauline Theology, 1892, p. 136f.), he accepts the following explanation:

‘Much more probable, in the opinion or the present writer, is the suggestion that, in his identification of the race and Adam, St. Paul was using a form of thought occurring by no means exclusively in the particular verse of his writings with which we are here concerned. Stevens has appropriately named it “mystical realism.” “It is characteristic at Paul’s mind,” says this writer, “to conceive religious truth under forms which are determined by personal relationship. These relations, especially the two just specified (that of unregenerate humanity to Adam, and of spiritual humanity to Christ), may be termed mystical in the sense of being unique, vital, and inscrutable; they are real in the sense that sinful humanity is conceived as being actually present and participant in Adam’s sin …” (op. cit. p. 32f., and elsewhere). This mystical realism is a style of thought, a rhetorical mode; it is not a philosophy; the realism is only figurative. St. Paul identifies the race, as sinners, with Adam in the same sense that he identifies the believer with Christ. “The moral defilement of man is represented as contracted in and with the sin of Adam” (op. cit. p. 37).… This attractive interpretation of St. Paul’s meaning has the great virtue of explaining his words, which involve so many difficulties when taken, as they generally have been, with too much literalness, as only a particular case of a mode of speech which is characteristic of the apostle. And so long as it is not so far pressed as to lose sight of the undeniable connexion between the apostle’s teaching and the somewhat indefinite belief which he inherited from Jewish doctors as to the connexion between the Fall and human sin and death, it would seem to supply the best key to the thought of this difficult passage’ (The Fall and original Sin, pp. 262-3).

If it be the case that, as Tennant maintains, Jewish thought assigned the cor malignum or the yezer hara to Adam even before his Fall as well as to his descendants, and so did not teach a moral corruption of man’s action of a result of the Fall (see op. cit. pp. 264-5), it does appear more likely that St. Paul did not hold the doctrine, and that accordingly it cannot be here introduced to explain his meaning. If this alternative must be excluded, although the writer is not finally convinced that it must, the explanation Tennant accepts does appear the most probable among all the others already mentioned. It must be frankly admitted that we cannot reach certainty on this matter, and it does not seem at all necessary for a modern reconstruction of Christian doctrine that we should. Whatever St. Paul’s view of the Fall and its consequences may have been, seeing that it rests ultimately on a narrative which modern scholarship compels us to regard as a myth, however purified and elevated in the new context given to it in the record of the Divine revelation, and is influenced directly by contemporary Jewish thought, it cannot be regarded as authoritative for our Christian faith, however great may be its historical interest as an instance of the endeavour of a great mind to find a solution for a great problem.

3. The doctrine of the Fall and modern Christian thought.-Although the writer holds the conviction that it is not necessary for the Christian theologian to try and save as much as he dare of the wreckage of the doctrine of the Fall, after the storm of literary and historical criticism has passed over it, a few sentences may be added in closing this article as to the relation of modern Christian thought to the doctrine.

(a) What has already been urged must be repeated: that the teaching of the OT regarding sin and salvation does not rest at all on the narrative in Genesis 3, but on the reality of human experience and the testimony of human conscience; that the teaching of Jesus about man as the child of God, though lost, has not this doctrine as its foundation, but comes from the moral insight and spiritual discernment of the sinless Son of God and Brother of men; that, apart from a few casual allusions in the rest of the NT, the two passages which have been considered in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 are the only express statements of the connexion of sin and death with the Fall; and that when we look more closely at the mode in which the classical passage in Romans 5 is introduced we find that its primary intention is not to prove either man’s sinfulness or to offer an explanation of its origin, but to demonstrate the greater efficacy of Christ’s obedience than of Adam’s transgression in their consequences for the race. These are surely weighty reasons why modern Christian thought should no longer assign to the doctrine of the Fall the prominence hitherto accorded to it.

(b) It is with the presence, guilt, and power of sin in individual experience and racial history, as the human need which the Divine grace in Christ meets, that Christian theology is alone concerned, and all other questions of the origin of sin or death are speculative, and not practical, and should be assigned the secondary place that properly belongs to them.

(c) Guided by these two considerations, we may lastly ask the question, How much remains of this doctrine for our modern Christian thought? (1) While the unity of the human race has not been demonstrated by science, this theory is not at all improbable, and so descent from one pair of ancestors is not incredible. (2) While death as physical dissolution is proved by science to have been antecedent to man’s appearance on earth, and while death seems a natural necessity for man as a physical organism, we need not try to justify St. Paul by assuming either that God, anticipating human sin, introduced death as its penalty into the very structure of the world at the Creation, or that, had man not sinned, he would so have developed morally and spiritually as to have transcended the natural necessity of death, and have attained immortality (because these speculations have no contact with experience). But we may recognize that for him death was not physical dissolution merely, but death in its totality as it is for the human consciousness, and may press the question, Can it be denied that the terror and darkness of death for the mind and heart of man are due in large measure to his sense of guilt, and the effects of sin on his reason, conscience, and spirit? Between death as such an experience and sin we can even to-day admit that there is a connexion. (3) While the common assumption that the savage represents primitive man is unwarranted, and we may infer that, since man’s mental, moral, and spiritual development in history proves the great distinction between him in his natural endowments and all the lower animals, man was even at the earliest stage of that development already far removed from the brute, yet all speculation as to what he originally was is precarious, as it rests on no solid foundation of assured knowledge. (4) While the dispute as regards the inheritance of acquired characters does not directly affect Christian thought (as it has yet to be proved that the laws of physical and mental or moral inheritance must be identical), yet the Christian theologian is bound to admit that the resemblances we do find between parents and children may be explained by social as much as by physical heredity, by the influence of the moral environment in youth as much as by the inheritance at birth of the moral characteristics of parents. While the writer is not convinced that Tennant has proved his contention, that the appetites and impulses of the child are entirely natural, and that the factor of heredity may be excluded from the origin of sin in the individual, he has at least compelled a reconsideration of the whole question. The sin in the race does affect the development of each member of it whether by social or by physical heredity; but when, where, or how sin first entered we do not know, for that neither can man discover nor has God revealed.

Literature.-In addition to the authorities cited throughout the article , see J. S. Candlish, The Biblical Doctrine of Sin, 1893; J. Laidlaw, The Bible Doctrine of Man, new ed., 1895; H. Wheeler Robinson, The Christian Doctrine of Man, 1911; J. Orr, God’s Image in Man and its Defacement in the Light of Modern Denials, 1905; W. E. Orchard, Modern Theories of Sin, 1909; F. J. Hall, Evolution and the Fall, 1910.

Alfred E. Garvie.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Fall'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/f/fall.html. 1906-1918.

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