The Diffusion of Death: Romans 5:12 and Original Sin

“This interpretation leads to a reading of πάντες ἥμαρτον (“all sinned”) that is itself improbable. In the Augustinian interpretation, this refers to the whole human race sinning in Adam in a collective and participatory way. As Augustine himself puts it, “all have broken God’s covenant in that one man in whom all sinned.” The idea is that Paul speaks of an involuntary participation in Adam’s sin by an actual participation in Adam’s nature. Adam is not simply an individual, but the primal instantiation of human nature, and so the consequences of his fall not only affect him personally but also affect all his descendants subsequently and distributively.47 In our estimation, the theological underpinnings of this view are not in themselves objectionable; indeed, one can find precedent in Scripture for such a manner of thinking (see Heb 7:6–10). Nevertheless, the fact remains that, in his letters, Paul consistently uses the verb ἁμαρτάνω (“to sin”) for actual sins committed by morally responsible persons in the course of their individual lives. That he has this default meaning in mind in Romans 5:12d is nearly certain: earlier in the letter he uses the identical Greek expression to insist that “all have sinned [πάντες ἥμαρτον] and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23)—an unmistakable reference to the universal occurrence of actual sins—and two verses later, in a passage intended to preempt objections to 5:12, Paul speaks of multiple generations of “those whose sins [τοὺς … ἁμαρτήσαντας] were not like the transgression of Adam” (5:14). For these reasons, the translation “in whom” falters on linguistic grounds.”

Hahn, S. W., & Mitch, C. J. (2017). The Diffusion of Death: Romans 5:12 and Original Sin. Letter & Spirit, 12, 28.


The very good creation included conflict/violence

People have a rose coloured view of what very good in Gen 1:30 means – thanks in no small part to Catholic father Augustine. But God’s words show the order of Genesis 1 included a forceful putting down of opposition and rule by humanity over the beasts. not only meat eating but conflict. Not what most literal creationists following a form of Augustine’s The Fall theology think.

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Are the 7 days of Genesis 1 a list or a chronology?

I ran into an interesting article by Sterchi in JETS who argues based on the Hebrew grammar the 7 days are NOT in chronological but theological order. His argument (of which below is a very small snippet) is pretty interesting. It certainly makes more sense of the evening & morning being time markers for days 1-3 before the sun and moon are made on day 4. Not such a good read for literalists who dislike Bible scholarship.

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Why was Cain’s offering rejected?

Why was Cain’s sacrifice rejected in Genesis 4 and what are we meant to learn from this event?  We are not told what was missing from the offering.  There are no explicit revealed pre-existing criteria.  All we have is the comparison to Abel’s accepted offering.  Abel’s offering was his best, Cain’s perhaps not.  What the incident revealed was an underlying issue with Cain’s pride, which led to murder.

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Augustine on over enthusiastic “purists”

there are some men who see in Scripture nothing else except those passages which admonish us to be strict, to rebuke the unruly, not to give what is holy to dogs, to regard as a heathen any man who does not heed the Church, to cut off from the body any member that gives scandal. Such persons only make trouble for the Church; they try to separate the cockle from the wheat before the appointed time. But because of their blindness they themselves rather are separated from union with Christ [1]

[1] Lombardo, G. J. with St. Augustine. (1988). St. Augustine on Faith and Works. (W. J. Burghardt & T. C. Lawler, Eds., G. J. Lombardo, Trans.) (Vol. 48, pp. 11–12). New York; Mahwah, NJ: The Newman Press.

Rewriting the chronology of Genesis 5

So some evangelicals are now claiming the Gen 5 is missing some years. Based on the LXX and Samaritan Pentateuch they place Adam at 5500bc. Smokes the 7000 year plan but means a few less archaeological problems can be ignored. Wonder if this will eventually leach into our community…

Pouring cold water on theistic chemists?

The Lampstand Magazine March 2021 issue tries to discredit evolution by asking where Earth’s water came from. This is a question for those pesky chemists and geologists, not evolutionists. The article misrepresents the state of the science, makes a nonsense assertion about Genesis and then selectively quotes and misreads Proverbs 8. Seems like they are lurching towards young earth creation rather than our pioneers’ old earth model too.

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