The Falls of Man

A guest piece of mine on the subject of the development of the theme of the Fall in the Old Testament has just been published over on the Theopolis Institute.

Articulating the Fall in the context of our theological systems or evangelistic presentations, we tend to frame it in terms of grand universals—sin, death, mankind, etc.—and miss how much the Genesis account is shaped by its particular details. For instance, Adam and Eve sin in different ways: Adam transgresses, but Eve is deceived. The judgments upon them differ too. Adam sins, not just as a generic human being, but as the appointed priest of the Garden sanctuary. He is the one charged with upholding and teaching the law of the tree and guarding the Garden, and by implication, his wife from attack.

Although the Fall leads to alienation from God, it is a relative not an absolute alienation. It is exile from a very particular location: the place of God’s special earthly presence in the Garden sanctuary. The exile of Cain in Genesis 4, for instance, is a further judgment and alienation. The Fall of Genesis 3 is a decisive and definitive event, but it belongs to a much larger story of the subsequent spread of Sin and its effects in the world and, on the other hand, of the reversal and unworking of the Fall through God’s providential and redemptive action in history.

Read the whole thing here.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
This entry was posted in Bible, Genesis, Guest Post, OT, OT Theology, Scripture, Theological. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Falls of Man

  1. p duggie says:

    David and Michal

    Fruit is ingested (2 Sam 6:19)
    Revelation of nakedness (2 Sam 6:14)
    Realization…by a woman (6:16)
    Curse, and dissolution of marriage (20, 22-23)

    Just thinking out loud.

  2. Pingback: The Falls of Man — Alastair’s Adversaria | Talmidimblogging

  3. cal says:

    I found this helpful. Given that the Bible itself does not dwell so much on a climactic fall, remembered repeatedly in the same form, one ought to pause before the typical Evangelicalism’s emphasis on the Fall (sometimes without particulars of Adam and Eve story). But the Bible recapitulates in strange ways through the lives of people, and sin “deepens”. I think this is more faithful to Scripture, and even some traditions (particularly Irenaeus and some currents within Eastern Orthodoxy and parts of the Medieval Latin Church).

    But I struggle to articulate this for today. Some non-Christians have no knowledge and are maybe open to this suggestion, but some, who’ve rejected what they’ve grown up in or merely have heard stories of Christians, can only conceptualize the Fall in this way. And many times the path Evangelicals have taken (whether now or in the past) is to deny the Fall or downplay its concrete meaning. Of course, I want to take it as important, and cosmically encompassing series of event, but also allow it the dynamic, nuanced, sort of vision one sees in the Bible.

    Maybe it doesn’t belong in evangelistic preaching. Any suggestions (Alastair or anyone)?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.