Sunday, December 01, 2019

"Original Sin" and the Old Testament

I was asked a question in Old Testament Theology about the notion/idea of "original sin" in the Bible as we end the semester.

The question emerged after a conversation about the relative near and total absence of The Satan in Hebrew Scripture, and a comment I made about how Christian persons too frequently give emphasis to things in the Bible where the Bible offers little emphasis.

In that regard, I pointed out that even "The Tree of Life" which seems so important as a notion to most people, at least that they recognize it as a concept, appears a single, solitary, one time in Hebrew Scripture (though I did point out that trees and fertility, fruitfulness and care of Creation appear numerous times in various contexts).

My reply on the question about Original Sin came out in a way where, after stating it, I "captured it" in order to remember it. As I said to the students present, every once in a while something comes out of my mouth that is "not bad."

On the question of "Original Sin" I pointed out (again to students in this class) that the word for sin is not used in the story of Genesis 3, known as "The Fall" (even where the word "fall" is not used, either!).  [We really would discern Scripture much better if we focused on the terms the Biblical writers used in their writings, and understood in their social/historical/cultural contexts.]

After pointing out that the supposed passage in the Bible that supposedly introduces "Original Sin" in the Bible doesn't *say* that . . . I talked about humans as gardeners and stewards and care-takers (taking care of "subduing" Creation with God toward goodness.)  And, when I pointed out, as has been pointed out in too many passages, that God calls persons to obedience, to Torah, to faithful living in response to God's work, I stated that the Bible has a call to obedience, in the face of human fracture and brokeneness, emphasizing that humans can live an obedient life.

Then I said, back to the original question, on "Original Sin" that the Bible, Hebrew Bible, doesn't really have a notion, properly speaking of "Original Sin" and it might be better to affirm what the Bible says in its terminology, within it's theological perspective, and that is that:

"The Bible accepts humans for who they are; bearers of God's image.  Images of God who poorly reflect the image of God.  And yet.  They are constantly called to better reflect the image of God for all of Creation."

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