The fall of man


In Christian theology and Islam, the fall of man, or the fall, was the transition of the first man and woman from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience. Though not named in the Bible, the doctrine of the fall comes from Genesis chapter 3. At first, Adam and Eve live with God in the Garden of Eden, but the serpent tempts them into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which God forbade. After doing so, they became ashamed of their nakedness and God expelled them from the Garden to prevent them from eating of the tree of life and becoming immortal.

For many prelapsarian" refers to the sin-free state of humanity prior to the fall.

Source

The doctrine of the fall of man is extrapolated from Christian cherubim to guard the entrance, so that Adam and Eve will not eat from the "tree of life".

Interpretations

Immortality

According to the Genesis narrative, during the Antediluvian age, human longevity approached a millennium, such as the case of Adam who lived 930 years. Christian exegetes of Genesis 2:9, On the day that you eat of it, you will die, have applied the Day-year principle to explain how Adam died within a "day". Given these conditions, it has led some to believe that God may have intended for Adam and Eve to be immortal. Thus, to "die" has been interpreted as to become mortal.[1]

Original sin


Main article: Original sin

Catholic exegesis of Genesis 3 claims that the fall of man was a primeval event, where the crime took place at the beginning of the history of man."[2] 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." 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. Although the state of corruption, inherited by humans after the primeval 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 guilt or sin of Adam, but not in the responsibility of Original Sin, as sin is always a personal act.[3]

The Eastern Orthodoxy rejects the idea that the guilt of original sin is passed down through generations. It bases its teaching in part on the passage 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. Nonetheless, as a consequence of Adam's sin, seen merely as the prototype (since human nature has been degraded) of all future sinners, each of whom, in repeating Adam’s sin, bears responsibility only for his own sins, humans became mortal. 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).[4][5]

Other traditions

  • In Gnosticism, the snake is thanked for bringing knowledge to Adam and Eve, and thereby freeing them from the Demiurge's control. The Demiurge banished Adam and Eve, because man was now a threat.
  • Ancient Greek mythology held that humanity was immortal during the Golden Age. When Prometheus gave the gift of fire to humans, helping them live through times of cold weather, the gods were angered. They gave Pandora a box and told her not to open it, knowing full well that her curiosity would get the better of her. When she opened the box, she released evil (death, sorrow, plague) into the world due to her curiosity. See Ages of Man for more.
  • 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

  • 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 which turn into savages when they are stranded on a desert island. Lord of the Flies was originally named 'Strangers Within', also showing his views of human nature.

See also

References

Notes

Bibliography

Further reading

  • McKenna, Terrence, True Hallucinations & the Archaic Revival: Tales and Speculations About the Mysteries of the Psychedelic Experience (Fine Communications/MJF Books) (Hardbound) ISBN 1-56731-289-6
  • The Evolutionary Mind : Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable (with Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph H. Abraham) (Trialogue Press; 1st Ed) ISBN 0-942344-13-8;
  • Food of the Gods: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution (Rider & Co; New edition) ISBN 0-7126-7038-6
  • Thompson, William Irwin, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture, 1981, 2001 ISBN 0-312-80512-8.

External links

  • Fall of Adam and Eve as explained in Mormonism
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