Thursday, March 7, 2013

Clearing Something Up about the Fall in the Old Testament

It's trendy to deny the fall these days, and thus, to deny that we are under a curse, so let me just clarify two things that I think those who deny the fall/curse often don't consider.

1. Man is cursed, not just the ground. "On the day you eat of it, you will die" is a curse that goes with the disobedience to the law (in this case, the law that forbids eating the fruit). Hence, God curses Adam, not just the ground, when He says, "from dust you came and to dust you will return." This is also clear by the rest of the Book of Genesis when it displays all of the evil that follows because of this event, but because it is a narrative, it's not going to draw out these connections explicitly.

2. One can be guilty of another person's sin because, within the ANE context, families are whole entities. Your father cannot sin and you be free of guilt, unless you do not sin. But if you sin as well, you accumulate sin for yourself starting with his. What this means is that if all mankind sins, or would sin given the chance, they are guilty of their father's sin. That's why you have familial vendettas that take out the murder committed by someone like Saul upon his descendents. That's why God takes out the sin of Jeroboam I on down upon Israel in the deportation or Judah in the exile. Yes, as Ezekiel states, everyone can repent and not be held guilty, but if they continue their father's legacy of sin, the sin accumulates. Hence, Achan's family pays for Achan's sin, precisely because, in the ANE mind, his family is one entity with him. That's why Jesus can put all of the sins of those who murdered the prophets on his current generation.

I say all that to say that this is how the story of Eden would have been read by an ANE reader. The problem is that we read it anachronistically in an individualistic mindset and end up wondering why any of us would be guilty of Adam's sin and if there really is any such thing as a federal sin. That would have already been assumed by the ANE reader.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what you feel about deliverance ministry, but people involved in that definitely experience this in those they minister to: the sins of our parents have a very real effect on us, even post-conversion, until they're broken.