Sin Entered Through One Man

How come Paul says that sin entered the world through one man (Rom. 5:12 cf. 1 Cor. 15:21) when the woman ate the fruit first (Gen. 3:6)? He acknowledges that Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning (2 Cor. 11:3) so why not attribute the sin to her, especially when she seems to claim that commandment as applying to her (Gen. 3:3)? Could it be that God actually gave the command to the man alone (Gen. 2:16)? The woman wasn’t even created when the command was given (cf. Gen. 2:21-23), which could explain why she misquoted it and added the bit about not being able to touch the fruit either. I wonder if Eve’s eyes were opened as soon as she ate the fruit or if she had to wait for Adam to eat the fruit before her eyes were opened—as it stands, the narrative just says that she ate it, then he ate it, and then both of their eyes were opened (Gen. 3:7). Is it possible that had Adam never eaten the fruit that sin never would have entered the world? Maybe.



25 thoughts on “Sin Entered Through One Man

  1. Nick,

    I won’t dare to presume I can provide an answer in this here little box. But your question reminds me of a Scholar, of whom I writing several reviews, named Gary Anderson. He has a chapter on this issue in the previously mentioned book that is a must read, primarily due to the many exegetical hurdles that are involved in interpreting Paul’s statements. Anderson is the apogee of what Reception History does and seeks to do as an academic field.

  2. I’ve often thought it possible that Eve was ignorant and therefore she didn’t “sin”, per se. It is interesting that Adam adds not to even touch the tree. Though the Genesis narrative doesn’t say that she touched it, the retelling in Gen. Rabbah 19.3 does. So it seems that at least one line of thought is that once she touched it and did not die she didn’t believe Adam and then ate.

    Your question is interesting (though unanswerable): What if Adam had not eaten?! Hmmm.

  3. Jeff: Okay. But I don’t think that answers the question of whether or not Eve sinned before Adam did or if it only became sin once Adam did. Did you have any thoughts on that?

    James: Sounds interesting. I haven’t heard of Anderson before now so I’ll keep him in mind for future reading. Thanks.

    Brian: I’ll have to track down the rabbinic commentary on these passages.

    Fr. Robert: Indeed, she sinned, but the question is whether it was sin before or only after Adam sinned.

  4. Nick: I guess the Ordo Salutis will always be in Adam! But then there is always the ordo causarum et effectuum: of causes and effects, etc. And of course the ordo decretorum Dei. If ya get into such questions one certainly must touch on Scholasticism!

  5. I think Paul’s especially interested in making a contrast between two “anthropoi” – two possible heads of humanity, so in these contexts it makes sense to him to limit the discussion to Adam.

  6. @Fr. Robert: Indeed, the woman did become a transgressor, but I wonder if this is somehow less than what Adam did? Could there be a qualitative difference between the παραβάσει of Eve and the ἁμαρτία of Adam?

    I think Matthew is correct that Adam-Christ makes sense because it is the two men so it creates a more natural juxtaposition, but I wonder if there is still something to Eve’s disobedience that did to measure to Adam’s, being that Adam received the commandment directly?

  7. Matthew R. Malcolm: I don’t know how much I like you going by your full name. It makes me feel all formal when replying to your comments. I think I’ll just go back to calling you Matthew. ;-)

    Anyway, I think you’re probably right, yet still I like to ask questions of the text that cannot possibly be answered.

    Brian: I wonder that too.

    Fr. Robert: That’s an interesting point. I wonder if Adam sinned in allowing Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. We can reasonably infer that he was there while she was being tempted and then did it.

  8. There’s also the thought that, if as some say, Adam was right by Eve and the serpent and seeing and hearing it all, he failed doubly: he ate the fruit, and he did nothing to stop Eve from being deceived and eating the fruit.

    Of course, guys hate to get up once they’ve found a comfy chair….

  9. @Chuck: This is an interesting point because the text in Gen. 3:6 does say Adam was present with Eve at the time of eating. Someone could easily conclude that Adam was there through the entire discourse between Adam and Eve, but remained silent.

  10. Robert: Perhaps that’s why they both realized they were naked; because neither was covering the other.

    Chuck: Very true; getting up from a comfortable seat is hard to do.

    Ryan: That’s always how I’ve read it and heard it preached.

  11. Nick,

    Many systematics will deal with this questions, perhaps I’m thinking of the older ones such as Dabney, Turretin, Hodge, Thornwell. I know we covered it in seminary; I’d copy that section of notes for you, but I don’t have them with me. I’ll try to remember them for tomorrow. Blessings!

  12. Hmmm…When Eve confesses, she places the blame on the head of the serpent…but, when Adam confesses, he finds fault with God and His provision.

  13. I read somewhere that it had to do with primitive notions of procreation where the woman was thought of as the soil in which the man’s seed grew rather than an equal contributor of genetic material. It wasn’t really thought that the mother transmitted herself to her offspring in the same way that a man did. So even thought Eve sinned, it was through Adam’s seed that the sin got passed along.

  14. “Fr. Robert: That’s an interesting point. I wonder if Adam sinned in allowing Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. We can reasonably infer that he was there while she was being tempted and then did it.”

    I don’t recall which ones, but some/most translations obscure the Hebrew, when there is no need to obscure. The Hebrew text describes Adam as being with (עִמהּ), adjunctive phrase indicating proximity.

  15. Jeff: Thanks, I appreciate it!

    Nancy: Interesting observation.

    Vinny: That sounds a lot like a common fundmanetalist (and even to some degree evangelical) understanding of the transmission of sin.

    James: Thanks for pointing that out.

  16. Nick: I think I read that in a book about Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on birth control Humanae Vitae. The book went through the history of the Roman Catholic Church’s views on sexuality and I think that was part of the discussion of Augustine. I’m not sure though because I read it a long time ago.

  17. Vinny: I’ll have to check the Catechism and see what the Catholic Church is saying these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same thing.

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