Fall of man

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Adam, Eve, and a female serpent at the entrance to Notre Dame de Paris Temptation Adam Eva.jpg
Adam, Eve, and a female serpent at the entrance to Notre Dame de Paris

The fall of man, the fall of Adam, or simply the Fall, is a term used in Christianity to describe the transition of the first man and woman from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience. [1] The doctrine of the Fall comes from a biblical interpretation of Genesis, chapters 1-3. [1] At first, Adam and Eve lived with God in the Garden of Eden, but the serpent tempted them into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden. [1] After doing so, they became ashamed of their nakedness and God expelled them from the Garden to prevent them from eating from the tree of life and becoming immortal. [1]

Contents

For many Christian denominations, the doctrine of the Fall is closely related to that of original sin or ancestral sin. They believe that the Fall brought sin into the world, corrupting the entire natural world, including human nature, causing all humans to be born into original sin, a state from which they cannot attain eternal life without the grace of God. The Eastern Orthodox Church accepts the concept of the Fall but rejects the idea that the guilt of original sin is passed down through generations, based in part on the passage Ezekiel 18:20 that says a son is not guilty of the sins of his father. Calvinist Protestants believe that Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice for the elect, so they may be redeemed from their sin. Lapsarianism, understanding the logical order of God's decrees in relation to the Fall, is divided by some Calvinists into supralapsarian (prelapsarian, pre-lapsarian or antelapsarian, before the Fall) and infralapsarian (sublapsarian or postlapsarian, after the Fall).

The narrative of the Garden of Eden and the fall of man constitute a mythological tradition shared by all the Abrahamic religions, [1] with a presentation more or less symbolic of Judeo-Christian morals and religious beliefs, [1] [2] which had an overwhelming impact on gender roles and sex differences both in the Western and Islamic worlds. [1] Unlike Christianity, Judaism and Islam don't have a concept of "original sin", and instead have developed varying other interpretations of the Eden narrative. [1] [3] [4]

Genesis 3

The doctrine of the fall of man is extrapolated from Christian exegesis of Genesis 3. According to the narrative, God creates Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. God places them in the Garden of Eden and forbids them to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The serpent tempts Eve to eat fruit from the forbidden tree, which she shares with Adam and they immediately become ashamed of their nakedness. Subsequently, God banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, condemns Adam to work in order to get what he needs to live and condemns Eve to give birth in pain, and places cherubim to guard the entrance, so that Adam and Eve will never eat from the "tree of life".

The Book of Jubilees gives time frames for the events that led to the fall of man by stating that the serpent convinced Eve to eat the fruit on the 17th day, of the 2nd month, in the 8th year after Adam's creation (3:17). It also states that they were removed from the Garden on the new moon of the 4th month of that year (3:33).

Interpretations

Immortality

Christian exegetes of Genesis 2:17 ("for in the day that you eat of it you shall die") have applied the day-year principle to explain how Adam died within a day. Psalms 90:4 , 2 Peter 3:8 and Jubilees 4:29–31 explained that, to God, one day is equivalent to a thousand years and thus Adam died within that same "day". [5] The Greek Septuagint, on the other hand, has "day" translated into the Greek word for a twenty-four-hour period (ἡμέρα, hēméra).

According to the Genesis narrative, during the antediluvian age, human longevity approached a millennium, such as the case of Adam who lived 930 years. Thus, to "die" has been interpreted as to become mortal. [6] However, the grammar does not support this reading, nor does the narrative: Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden lest they eat of the second tree, the tree of life, and gain immortality. [Gen. 3:22] [7]

Original sin

The fall depicted in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo Michelangelo Sundenfall.jpg
The fall depicted in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: "The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms ... that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents." [8] St Bede and others, especially St Thomas Aquinas, said that the fall of Adam and Eve brought “four wounds” to human nature, enumerated by (STh I-II q. 85, a. 3). They are original sin (lack of sanctifying grace and original justice), concupiscence (the soul's passions are no longer ordered perfectly to the soul's intellect), physical frailty and death, and darkened intellect and ignorance. These negated or diminished the gifts of God to Adam and Eve of original justice or sanctifying grace, integrity, immortality and infused knowledge. This first sin was "transmitted" by Adam and Eve to all of their descendants as original sin, causing humans to be "subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin."

In the light of modern scripture scholarship, the future Pope Benedict XVI stated in 1986 that: “In the Genesis story ... sin is not spoken of in general as an abstract possibility but as a deed, as the sin of a particular person, Adam, who stands at the origin of humankind and with whom the history of sin begins. The account tells us that sin begets sin, and that therefore all the sins of history are interlinked. Theology refers to this state of affairs by the certainly misleading and imprecise term ‘original sin.’” [9] Although the state of corruption, inherited by humans after the primaeval event of Original Sin, is clearly called guilt or sin, it is understood as a sin acquired by the unity of all humans in Adam rather than a personal responsibility of humanity. Even children partake in the effects of the sin of Adam, but not in the responsibility of original sin, as sin is always a personal act. [10] Baptism is considered to erase original sin, though the effects on human nature remain, and for this reason, the Catholic Church baptizes even infants who have not committed any personal sin.

Eastern Orthodoxy rejects the idea that the guilt of original sin is passed down through generations. It bases its teaching in part on Ezekiel 18:20 that says a son is not guilty of the sins of his father. The Church teaches that, in addition to their conscience and tendency to do good, men and women are born with a tendency to sin due to the fallen condition of the world. It follows Maximus the Confessor and others in characterising the change in human nature as the introduction of a "deliberative will" (θέλημα γνωμικόν) in opposition to the "natural will" (θέλημα φυσικόν) created by God which tends toward the good. Thus, according to St Paul in his epistle to the Romans, non-Christians can still act according to their conscience.

Orthodoxy believes that, while everyone bears the consequences of the first sin (that is, death), only Adam and Eve are guilty of that sin. [11] Adam's sin isn't comprehended only as disobedience to God's commandment, but as a change in man's hierarchy of values from theocentricism to anthropocentrism, driven by the object of his lust, outside of God, in this case the tree which was seen to be "good for food", and something "to be desired" (see also theosis, seeking union with God). [12] The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Subordination

Traditionally, women have received the major blame for the Fall of humanity. The subordination exegesis is that the natural consequences of sin entering the human race, was prophesied by God when the phrase was made: the husband "will rule over you". This interpretation is reinforced by comments in the First Epistle to Timothy, where the author gives a rationale for directing that a woman (NIV: possibly "wife")

should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man (NIV: possibly "husband"); she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. [1 Tim. 2:11–14]

Therefore, some interpretations of these passages from Genesis 3 and 1 Timothy 2 have developed a view that women are considered as bearers of Eve's guilt and that the woman's conduct in the fall is the primary reason for her universal, timeless, subordinate relationship to the man. [13] :21

Alternatively, Richard and Catherine Clark Kroeger argue that "there is a serious theological contradiction in telling a woman that when she comes to faith in Christ, her personal sins are forgiven but she must continue to be punished for the sin of Eve." They maintain that judgmental comments against women in reference to Eve are a "dangerous interpretation, in terms both of biblical theology and of the call to Christian commitment". They reason that "if the Apostle Paul was forgiven for what he did ignorantly in unbelief" including persecuting and murdering Christians, "and thereafter was given a ministry, why would the same forgiveness and ministry be denied women" (for the sins of their foremother eons ago)? Addressing that, the Kroegers conclude that Paul was referring to the promise of Genesis 3:15 that through the defeat of Satan on the cross of Jesus Christ, the woman's child (Jesus) would crush the serpent's head, but the serpent would only bruise the heel of her child. [13] :144

Agricultural revolution

Symbolic aspects of the fall of man are commonly taken to correlate with knowledge gained by experience in the wake of fateful decisions. [14] Some of the Genesis 3 narrative's symbolism may correlate to the experience of the agricultural revolution. [15] [16] [17] The serpent of the Genesis narrative may represent seasonal changes and renewal, as with the symbolism of Sumerian, Egyptian, and other creation myths. [18] In Mesoamerican creation myths, Quetzalcoatl, a feathered serpent agricultural deity, is associated with learning as well as renewal. [19] [20] The leading role of Eve in the Genesis narrative may be attributed to the interest of neolithic women in shifting away from gatherer life in favor of raising crops. [21] Women also may of necessity have taken the role of organizers in early farming settlements, thus effectively leading the shift to agrarian society. [22] Though these settlements may have been relatively egalitarian compared to more modern societies, the Genesis narrative may be interpreted as mourning the hunter-gatherer life as a paradise lost. [23]

Similar concepts

In Gnosticism, the biblical serpent in the Garden of Eden was praised and thanked for bringing knowledge ( gnosis ) to Adam and Eve and thereby freeing them from the malevolent Demiurge's control. [1] Gnostic Christian doctrines rely on a dualistic cosmology that implies the eternal conflict between good and evil, and a conception of the serpent as the liberating savior and bestower of knowledge to humankind opposed to the Demiurge or creator god, identified with the Hebrew God of the Old Testament. [1] [24] Gnostic Christians considered the Hebrew God of the Old Testament as the evil, false god and creator of the material universe, and the Unknown God of the Gospel, the father of Jesus Christ and creator of the spiritual world, as the true, good God. [1] [24] They were regarded as heretics by the proto-orthodox Early Church Fathers. [1] [24] [25]

In Islam, Adam and his wife were misled by Shayṭān, who tempted them with immortality and a kingdom that never decays, [26] saying: "Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels or such beings as live forever". [27] Adam and Eve had been warned of Shayṭān's scheming against them, [28] and had been commanded by God to avoid the tree Shayṭān referred to. Although God had reminded them that there was enough provision for them "not to go hungry nor to go naked, nor to suffer from thirst, nor from the sun's heat", [29] they ultimately gave in to Shayṭān's temptation and partook of the tree anyway. Following this sin, their "nakedness appeared to them: they began to sew together, for their covering, leaves from the Garden", [30] and were subsequently sent down from Paradise onto the earth with "enmity one to another". However, God also gave them the assurance that "when there come unto you from Me a guidance, then whoso followeth My guidance, he will not go astray nor come to grief." [31] Within Islam, the Alawite sect believed that they were once luminous stars worshipping ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib in a world of light, but that upon committing sins of pride they were banished from their former state and forced to transmigrate in the world of matter. [32]

In classic Zoroastrianism, humanity is created to withstand the forces of decay and destruction through good thoughts, words and deeds. Failure to do so actively leads to misery for the individual and for his family. This is also the moral of many of the stories of the Shahnameh, the key text of Persian mythology.

Literature and art

William Blake's color printing of God Judging Adam original composed in 1795. This print is currently held by the Tate Collection. In the Biblical story, God's judgement results from the fall of man. God judging adam blake 1795.jpg
William Blake's color printing of God Judging Adam original composed in 1795. This print is currently held by the Tate Collection. In the Biblical story, God's judgement results from the fall of man.

In William Shakespeare's Henry V (1599), the King describes the betrayal of Lord Scroop – a friend since childhood – as being "like another fall of man", referring to the loss of his own faith and innocence the treason has caused.

In the novel Perelandra (1943) by C. S. Lewis, the theme of the fall is explored in the context of a new Garden of Eden with a new, green-skinned Adam and Eve on the planet Venus, and with the protagonist the Cambridge scholar Dr. Ransom transported there and given the mission of thwarting Satan and preventing a new fall.

In the novel The Fall (1956) by Albert Camus, the theme of the fall is enunciated through the first-person account given in post-war Amsterdam, in a bar called "Mexico City." Confessing to an acquaintance, the protagonist, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, describes the haunting consequence of his refusal to rescue a woman who had jumped from a bridge to her death. The dilemmas of modern Western conscience and the sacramental themes of baptism and grace are explored.

J. R. R. Tolkien included as a note to his comments about the Dialogue of Finrod and Andreth (published posthumously in 1993) the Tale of Adanel that is a reimagining of the fall of man inside his Middle-earth's mythos. The story presented Melkor seducing the first Men by making them worship him instead of Eru Ilúvatar, leading to the loss of the "Edenic" condition of the human race. The story is part of Morgoth's Ring .

In both Daniel Quinn's Ishmael (1992) and The Story of B (1996) novels, it is proposed that the story of the fall of man was first thought up by another culture watching the development of the now-dominant totalitarian agriculturalist culture.

In Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series (1995, 1997, 2000), the fall is presented in a positive light, as it is the moment at which human beings achieve self-awareness, knowledge, and freedom. Pullman believes that it is not worth being innocent if the price is ignorance.

The novel Lord of the Flies explores the fall of man. The storyline depicts young, innocent children who turn into savages when they are stranded on a desert island. Lord of the Flies was originally named Strangers from Within, also showing his views of human nature.

The theme is also frequently depicted in historical European art. Lucas van Leyden, a Dutch engraver and painter during the Renaissance period, created several different woodcuts featuring Adam and Eve (two were part of his Power of Women series).

See also

Related Research Articles

Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge. The term is used in various Hellenistic religions and philosophies. It is best known from Gnosticism, where it signifies a spiritual knowledge or insight into humanity's real nature as divine, leading to the deliverance of the divine spark within humanity from the constraints of earthly existence.

Garden of Eden Biblical garden of God

The Garden of Eden or Garden of God, also called the Terrestrial Paradise, is the biblical paradise described in Genesis 2-3 and Ezekiel 28 and 31. Comparisons to Eden are also made in the Bible in Genesis, Isaiah 51:3, Ezekiel 36:35, and Joel 2:3; Zechariah 14 and Ezekiel 47 use paradisical imagery without naming Eden.

Cain Biblical figure

Cain is a Biblical figure in the Book of Genesis within Abrahamic religions. He is the elder brother of Abel, and the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, the first couple within the Bible. He was a farmer who gave an offering of his crops to God. God, however, was not pleased and favored Abel's offering over Cain's. Out of jealousy, Cain killed his brother, for which he was punished by God with the curse and mark of Cain. He had several children, starting with Enoch including Lamech.

Tree of the knowledge of good and evil One of two specific trees in the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2–3, along with the tree of life

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is one of two specific trees in the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2–3, along with the tree of life. Alternatively, some scholars have argued that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is just another name for the tree of life.

Tree of life (biblical) Tree first described in chapter 2, verse 9 of Genesis

In the Book of Genesis, the tree of life is first described in chapter 2, verse 9 as being "in the midst of the Garden of Eden" with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. After the fall of man, "lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever", cherubim and a flaming sword are placed at the east end of the Garden to guard the way to the tree of life. The tree of life has become the subject of some debate as to whether or not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the same tree.

Samael Jewish archangel

Samael is an archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore; a figure who is the accuser (Ha-Satan), seducer, and destroyer (Mashhit).

The Life of Adam and Eve, also known, in its Greek version, as the Apocalypse of Moses, is a Jewish apocryphal group of writings. It recounts the lives of Adam and Eve from after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden to their deaths. It provides more detail about the Fall of Man, including Eve's version of the story. Satan explains that he rebelled when God commanded him to bow down to Adam. After Adam dies, he and all his descendants are promised a resurrection.

Forbidden fruit Fruit growing in the Garden of Eden which God commands mankind not to eat

Forbidden fruit is a name given to the fruit growing in the Garden of Eden which God commands mankind not to eat. In the biblical story, Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and are exiled from Eden.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis creation narrative Creation myth of both Judaism and Christianity

The Genesis creation narrative is the creation myth of both Judaism and Christianity. The narrative is made up of two stories, roughly equivalent to the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis. In the first, Elohim creates the heavens and the Earth in six days, then rests on, blesses and sanctifies the seventh. In the second story, God, now referred to by the personal name Yahweh, creates Adam, the first man, from dust and places him in the Garden of Eden, where he is given dominion over the animals. Eve, the first woman, is created from Adam and as his companion.

The doctrine of the serpent seed, also known as the dual-seed or the two-seedline doctrine, is a controversial and fringe Christian religious belief which explains the Biblical account of the fall of man by stating that the Serpent mated with Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the offspring of their union was Cain. This event resulted in the creation of two races of people, the wicked descendants of the Serpent who were destined for damnation, and the righteous descendants of Adam who were destined to have eternal life. The doctrine frames human history as a conflict between these two races in which the descendants of Adam will eventually triumph over the descendants of the Serpent.

Islamic mythology Body of myths associated with Islam

Islamic mythology is the body of myths associated with Islam and the Quran. Islam is a religion that is more concerned with social order and law than with religious ritual or myths. The Oxford Companion to World Mythology identifies a number of traditional narratives as "Islamic myths". These include a creation myth and a vision of afterlife, which Islam shares with the other Abrahamic religions, as well as the distinctively Islamic story of the Kaaba.

Adam First man according to the Abrahamic creation myth

Adam is a figure in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Bible, and also in the Quran. According to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, he was the first man. In both Genesis and Quran, Adam and his wife were expelled from the Garden of Eden for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Eve First woman in Genesis creation narrative

Eve is a figure in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible and the Quran. According to the origin story of the Abrahamic religions, she was the first woman, yet some debate within Judaism has also given that position to Lilith. Eve is known also as Adam's wife.

Adam in Islam The first man and Prophet in Islam

Adam is believed to have been the first human being on Earth or at least the first prophet of Islam. Adam's role as the father of the human race is looked upon by Muslims with reverence. Muslims also refer to his wife, Hawa, as the "mother of mankind". Muslims see Adam as the first Muslim, as the Quran states that all the Prophets preached the same faith of Islam.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that Adam and Eve were the first man and the first woman to live on the earth and that their fall was an essential step in the plan of salvation. Adam in particular is a central figure in Mormon cosmology. Robert L. Millet, a Mormon author, wrote of the church's perspective:

Few persons in all eternity have been more directly involved in the plan of salvation—the creation, the fall, and the ultimate redemption of the children of God—than the man Adam. His ministry among the sons and daughters of earth stretches from the distant past of premortality to the distant future of resurrection, judgment, and beyond.

Adam and Eve The first man and woman in the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions

Adam and Eve according to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, were the first man and woman. They are central to the belief that humanity is in essence a single family, with everyone descended from a single pair of original ancestors. They also provide the basis for the doctrines of the fall of man and original sin that are important beliefs in Christianity, although not held in Judaism or Islam.

Jewish mythology Mythology associated with Judaism

Jewish mythology is the body of myths associated with Judaism. Elements of Jewish mythology have had a profound influence on Christian mythology and on Islamic mythology, as well as on world culture in general. Christian mythology directly inherited many of the narratives from the Jewish people, sharing in common the narratives from the Old Testament. Islamic mythology also shares many of the same stories; for instance, a creation-account spaced out over six periods, the legend of Abraham, the stories of Moses and the Israelites, and many more.

<i>Paradise and Hell</i>

Paradise and Hell is the left and right panels of a minor diptych by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch based on The Haywain Triptych. The image is oil on panel and is 135 x 45 cm. It was painted c. 1510 and is now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. Paradise is depicted darker than in the Haywain, which possibly represents the darkness of original sin.

Serpents in the Bible Serpents in the Bible

Serpents are referred to in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. The symbol of a serpent or snake played important roles in religious and cultural life of ancient Egypt, Canaan, Mesopotamia and Greece. The serpent was a symbol of evil power and chaos from the underworld as well as a symbol of fertility, life and healing.

Coats of skin The coats provided for Adam and Eve by the God

In the biblical story of Adam and Eve, coats of skin were the aprons provided to Adam and Eve by God when they fell from a state of innocent obedience under Him to a state of guilty disobedience.

References

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  27. [Quran   7:20]
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  29. [Quran   20:118]
  30. [Quran   20:121]
  31. [Quran   20:123]
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Bibliography

Further reading

  • Beynen, G. Koolemans, Animal Language in the Garden of Eden: Folktale Elements in Genesis in Signifying Animals: Human Meaning in the Natural World, Roy G. Willis, ed., (London: Routledge, 1994), 39–50.
  • Thompson, William Irwin, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture, 1981, 2001 ISBN   0-312-80512-8