Genesis iii. [Theological appendix]

June 26, 2010

Appendix to Chapter III.

(i) The state of the human race after the sin and the banishment from paradise.

a. The common punishment, death.

St. Thomas: “If anyone is deprived, due to his own fault, of some benefit given to him, the lack of that benefit is the punishment of his fault.  As was first said, the blessing was bestowed upon man at his creation that, as long as his mind remained subject to God, the lower powers of the soul would be subjected to the rational mind, and the body be subjected to the soul.  But because man’s mind abandoned divine subjection by sin, it followed that the lower powers would no longer be completely subject to reason, whence arises so great a rebellion of the fleshly appetite against reason; nor would the body be completely subjected to the soul; whence follows the existence of death, and other bodily defects.  For the life and safety of the body consists in the fact that the body is subjected to the soul, as something perfectible to its perfection; whence, by opposition, death and sickness, and any other bodily defect, pertain to the failure of the body’s subjection to the soul.  Whence it is clear that, just as the rebellion of carnal appetite against the spirit is a punishment of the sin of our first parents, likewise also are death and all bodily defects” (ST. IIa-IIae q. clxiv. a. i.).

“It followed that, as the defect of corruption was felt in the body [Gen. iii. 7.], by this man also incurred the necessity of dying, as though unable to maintain the animation of his body in perpetuity by supplying life to it: whence man was made passible and mortal, not only being able to suffer and die, as before, but now having the necessity of suffering and dying” (CT. I. cxciii.).

b. The other punishments summarized.

“As was said, our first parents were deprived because of their sin of the divine benefit by which the integrity of human nature was conserved in them, and by whose removal human nature fell into penal defects.  And therefore they were doubly punished.  First, in that they lost the natural accompaniment of that state of primal innocence, namely the terrestrial paradise.  And because they were not able to return to that state of primal innocence by themselves, obstacles were fittingly placed to prevent them returning to those things that accompanied the state of innocence, namely the fruit, that they not take from the tree of life.  Secondly they were punished in that there were assigned to them those defects that accompany the deprivation of such a benefit.  And in this respect with regard to the body, in which lies the difference of sex, different punishments were assigned to the woman and to the man.  To the woman punishment was assigned with respect to tuo ways in which she is joined to her husband, which are the generation of offspring, and the sharing of tasks pertaining to family life … Now just as it pertains to the woman to be subordinated to her husband in the matters of family life, so it pertains to the man to procure the necessities of life.  And with regard to this he was triply punished.  First, by the sterility of the earth [Gen. iii. 17.].  Second, by the anxiety of labor, without which he gains no fruit from the earth.  Third, by the obstacles that confront those working the land, whence it is said, thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.  Likewise their punishment with regard to the soul is also described as three-fold.  First, with regard to the confounding they suffered by the rebellion of the flesh against the spirit, whence it is said, the eyes of them both were opened, and they perceived themselves to be naked.  Second, with regard to the rebuke of the specific fault, by which is that which is said, Behold Adam is become as one of us.  Third, by the recollection that he was to die, following what was said to him, dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.  To this also pertains that God made for them garments of skins, as a sign of their mortality” (ST. IIa-IIae q. clxiv. a. ii.).

(ii) Original sin

a. Its existence proved by death.

For as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just.[1] It is to be shown that men are born with original sin.

“And first should be taken what is said in Gen. ii. 15-17: the Lord God took man and put him in paradise, and commanded him saying: from every tree of paradise thou shalt eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat: for in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death.  But because Adam did not die in act on the day on which he ate, it is necessary  to understand thou shalt die the death to mean, ‘you will be sentenced to the necessitaty of death.’  And this would have been said without reason if from the institution of his nature man had possessed the necessity of dying.  Therefore it is necessary to say that death, and the necessity of dying, is a punishment inflicted on man because of sin.  Now punishment is not justly inflicted except where there is fault.  Therefore, in whomsoever this punishment be found, there is necessarily found some guilt in them.  But this punishment is found in every man, even from the beginning of his birth: for he is born sentenced to the necessity of death; whence some children die immediately after birth, carried from the womb to the grave.  Therefore there is some sin in them.  But this cannot be actual sin, because children do not have the use of free will, without which nothing is reckoned to man as sin.  It is therefore necessary to say that there is in them sin conveyed by origin.  This also expressly appears from the words of the Apostle, Rom. v. 12: As by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; so also death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.

b. Transmitted justly to all men.

“Now this ordered state of man is called original justice, by which both he himself was subordinate to his superior, and all lower things were subject to him, according to what is said: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air: and also among his parts the lower was subordinate to the higher without struggle.  And this state was granted to the first man not as to an individual person, but as to the first principle of human nature, in such a way that it would be passed on through him with human nature to his posterity.

“And because the aforesaid good of original justice was divinely assigned to the human race in our first parent in such a way that, although it might be transmitted by him to his posterity, if instead the cause of this state was withdrawn, it followed that when the first man was deprived of the aforesaid good on account of his own personal sin, all his descendants would be deprived, and in this way of all the rest; that is, after the sin of our first parent, all were born without original justice and with the corresponding defects.  Nor is this against the order of justice, as though God were punishing in the children the failure of the first parent; for this punishment is nothing but the removal of those things which were supernaturally and divinely granted to the first man, to be passed on by him to others: whence nothing was owed to the others, except that which would pass to them by our first parent.  Just as if a king were to give a fief to a knight, to be passed on by him to his heirs, and the knight sins against the king, so that he deserves to lose the fief, it cannot afterwards descend to his heirs; whence the descendants of the first parent were justly deprived by his guilt” (CT. I. clxxxvii, cxcv.).

c. Justly imputed as guilt to all men.

“But there remains a more pressing question: whether the lack of original justice in those born of the first parent can have the nature of guilt.  For it seems to pertain to the nature of guilt, that a culpable evil be in the power of him to whom it is imputed as guilt.  For no one is considered guilty of something that is not in his power to do or not to do.  Now it is not in the power of one who is born to be born with original justice, or without it: whence it seems that this defect does not have the nature of guilt.  But this difficulty is easily solved, if we distinguish between person and nature.  For just as in one person there are many members, so in the one human nature there are many persons, such that by participation in the species many men are understood as though one man, as Porphyrius says.  Now it is to be noted that in the sin of one man, different members are responsible for different sins, but the nature of guilt is not sought in the will of the members by which the several sins of will are committed, but in the will of the principle in man, namely the intellect.  For if a man wills and orders his hand to cut or his foot to walk, it cannot disobey.  Therefore in this way the lack of original justice is a sin of nature, in as much as it is derived from the disordered will of the first principle in human nature, namely our first parent; and it is thus voluntary in habit with respect to nature, that is, it is so by the will of the first principle of that nature, and thus it passes to all who take human nature from him, as though to his members; and on this account is it called original sin, because it has its origin in the first parent, from whom it is passed on to the descendants: whence while other sins, namely actual sins,  immediately affect the person sinning, this sin directly affects his nature.  For the first parent corrupted nature by his sin, and the corrupted nature corrupts the person of his children, who receive it from the first parent” (ibid. cxcvi.).

d. Second death; the two cities.

St. Augustine: “The dominion of death over men extended to this, that all would in merited punishment be thrown into the second death, which has no end, unless some unmerited grace of God freed them from it.  And by this it came about that, although so many and such different peoples are distinguished, living throughout the world with different customs and habits and a multiplicity of tongues, nevertheless no more than two types of human societies exist, which following our Scriptures we may rightly call cities.  In one, men live according to the flesh; in the other according to the spirit: the two races living in their own particular peace … And so these two cities created two loves: an earthly reaching to the contempt of God, and a heavenly love of God reaching to the contempt of self” (De civitate Dei, XIV. i., xxviii.).

e. The importance of the doctrine.

Pope St. Pius X: “And in fact, what do those who hate the faith lay as their foundations for sowing in every direction their great errors, by which the very faith of many is shaken?  Without doubt, they deny that men has falled by sin and that he has been brought down from his former rank.  Hence they add original sin to the ranks of invented stories, and condemn whatever proceeds from it: the corrupt origin of the human race, the universal vitiation of the descendants of that origin, and even the entrance of evil to mortals and the established necessity of a redeemer.  With these things posited, it leads one to understand that there is no further place for Christ, nor for His Church, nor for grace, nor for anything that goes beyond nature: in a word, the whole edifice of faith shakes on its foundations (Litteræ Encyclicæ, “Ad diem illum lætissimum,” 1904; 22.).

(iii) Adam and Eve after leaving paradise.

Bl. Anne Emmerich: “When they were alone, I saw them praying.  They separated from each other, threw themselves on their knees, raised their hands high, cried and wept … While they prayed again, paradise seemed to withdraw behind them, like a cloud … They had stayed only one day in paradise.

“I saw Adam and Eve arrive at the land of penance.  It was an indescribably touching sight, the two penitents on the naked earth.  Adam had been allowed to take an olive branch with him from paradise, which he planted there.  I saw that afterwards the cross was built from its wood.  They were indescribably sad.  Where I saw them, they could scarcely see paradise any more.  They were always pulled onwards, and it seemed as if something turned itself around, and they came through night and darkness to the sorrowful place of penance.

“It was the region of the Mount of Olives, where I saw Adam and Eve arrive.  The land was different than it is now; but it was indicated to me, that it was this place.  I saw them living and doing penance on the place on the Mount of Olives where Jesus sweated blood” (Die Sünde und ihre Folgen: 3. Verweisung aus dem Paradiese; 4. Die Familie Adams).


[1] Rom. v. 19.

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