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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

It is now generally recognized by scholars that the story of the Fall in Genesis is to be regarded neither as literal history, as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Augustine taught, nor as allegory, as Clement and Origen, following Philo, held; but as a myth, common to the Semitic group of religions, in which an attempt is made to explain the origin of the evils from which mankind suffers. This myth has, however, been transformed to bring it into accord with the ‘ethical monotheism’ or the Hebrew religion. For the present purpose, the exposition of the apostolic (in this case exclusively the Pauline) doctrine, it is not necessary to examine any alleged similar myth in other religions, to cite any of the supposed Babylonian parallels, to enter into the details of the narrative in Genesis, or to exhibit the truth under the mythological form, which expositors have found in the story (For all these particulars the articles in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) i. 839, Hastings’ Single-vol. Dictionary of the Bible p. 257, and Dict. of Christ and the Gospels i. 571 may be consulted).

There is no evidence that the teaching of the OT as a whole on the subject of sin was in the slightest degree affected by the narrative in fin 3, as the instances cited to the contrary disappear on closer scrutiny; but the universality of man’s sinfulness is asserted as a fact, although no reason for it is offered. It is only when we come to the apocryphal Jewish literature that the story is given the significance of doctrine. Although, as the evidence from this source shows, Jewish theology in the time of Jesus had taken up the question of the origin of sin and death, yet in the teaching of Jesus there is not the faintest echo of Jewish thought upon the subject. His standpoint is that of the OT, although His revelation of God’s Father-hood and man’s sonship gives to the sin which separates God and man a more tragic import. St. Paul, however, has given a place in his theology to this contemporary Jewish doctrine, and, on account of the light it throws upon his teaching, it will be necessary to examine it more closely.

1. The connexion of St. Paul’s doctrine with Jewish teaching .-( a ) While in the OT we have the beginnings, but only the beginnings, of the later doctrine of Satan ( Job 1:9-12;  Job 2:1-6, the unbeliever in, and slanderer of, man’s goodness and godliness  Zechariah 3:1, the adversary of man to hinder God’s grace;  1 Chronicles 21:1, the tempter; cf.  2 Samuel 24:1, where it is the Lord who moves David to number the people), yet it is not till we come to  Wisdom of Solomon 2:24 that he is identified with the serpent who tempted Eve: ‘But by the envy of the devil death entered into the world, and they that are of his portion mate trial thereof. This identification is assumed in  Romans 16:20 and  Revelation 12:9;  Revelation 20:2 and is also implied in  John 8:44 (cf.  1 John 3:8;  1 John 3:12).

( b ) Woman’s share in this tragedy for the race is mentioned in  Sirach 25:24 : ‘From a woman was the beginning of sin; and because of her we all die.’ Of this detail of the narrative St. Paul also makes use by way of warning: ‘But I fear, leer by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ’ ( 2 Corinthians 11:3). It is not impossible that in this allusion St. Paul has in view the opinion of apocalyptic and Rabbinic writers that the temptation was to unchastity.

‘The thought which pervades this passage is that of conjugal loyalty and fidelity to one husband, and it is difficult to resist the conclusion to which Everling ( Die Paulinische Angelologie u. Dämonologie , 51-57) comes in his able discussion of the passage, that the mention of Eve in this connexion in a clause introduced by ὡς, makes it necessary to understand the sin into which she was betrayed as similar to that into which the Corinthian Church is, figuratively speaking, in danger of falling, namely, unchastity and infidelity to her husband’ (H. St. J. Thackeray, The Relation of St. Paul to Contemporary Jewish Thought , 1900, p. 52; cf. Tennant, The Fall and Original Sin , 1903, p. 251).

If this was St. Paul’s belief, it adds force to his argument for woman’s subordination in  1 Timothy 2:14 ‘Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression.’ Here again St. Paul is either echoing, or in accord with, Jewish thought, for in the Slavonic Secrets of Enoch , xxxi. 6, we read: ‘And on this account he [Satan] conceived designs against Adam; in such a manner he entered [into Paradise] and deceived Eve. But he did not touch Adam’ (cf. Thackeray, op. cit. pp. 51, 52). Such an opinion would explain the harshness of his tone and the hardness of his dealing with women.

( c ) These are, however, subordinate features of the narrative; but St. Paul is, in his assertion of human depravity, not only in accord with some of the sayings in the OT, but with such explicit teaching as is found in 2Ezr 4:11 ‘How can he that is already worn out with the corrupted world understand incorruption,’ and 2Ezr 7:68 ‘For all that are born are defiled with iniquities, and are full of sins and laden with offences.’ But such a view does not seem to have been universal, for Edersheim says expressly of the teaching of the Talmud: ‘So far as their opinions can be gathered from their writings, the great doctrines of Original Sin, and of the sinfulness of our whole nature, were not held by the ancient Rabbis’ ( LT [Note: T Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Edersheim).]4, 1887, i. 165; cf. Sanday-Headlam, Romans 5 [ International Critical Commentary , 1902], p. 137).

( d ) Man’s present racial condition is traced back to Adam’s fall (παράπτωμα;  Wisdom of Solomon 10:1 ‘Wisdom guarded to the end the first formed father of the world, that was created alone, and delivered him out of his own transgression’). The teaching in  Romans 5:12-21 is very fully anticipated in  2 Esdras 3:21-22 : ‘For the first Adam bearing a wicked heart transgressed, and was overcome; and not he only , but all they also that are born of him. Thus disease was made permanent; and the law was in the heart of the people along with the wickedness of the root; so the good departed away, and that which was wicked abode still’;  2 Esdras 4:30 ‘For a grain of evil seed was sown in the heart of Adam from the beginning, and how much wickedness hath it brought forth unto this time! and how much shall it yet bring forth until the time of threshing come!’; 7:118 ‘O thou Adam, what hast thou done? for though it was thou that sinned, the evil is not fallen on thee alone, but upon all of us that come of thee.’ While it is generally assumed that in these passages man’s moral corruption in the sense of inherited depravity is traced to Adam’s transgression as its cause, yet Tennant maintains that the available evidence does not support the view.

‘The only parallels adduced by Sanday and Headlam from approximately contemporary literature are the passages of 4 Ezra [the passages given above] relating to the cor malignum . But the cor malignum is certainly the yezer hara of the Rabbis, regarded by Pseudo-Ezra, as well as by talmudic writers, as inherent in Adam from the first, and as the cause, not the consequence, of his fall. St. Paul, curiously enough, nowhere appears to make use of the current doctrine of the evil yezer  ; certainly not in connexion with the Fall. There would seem to be no evidence that St. Paul held, even in germ, the doctrine of an inherited corruption derived from Adam’ ( op. cit. p. 264f.).

To the explicit challenge of a common understanding of St. Paul’s doctrine we must return when dealing with it in detail in the next section; but meanwhile it may be made clear that it is not the assertion of a connexion between Adam’s fall and man’s sinfulness which is denied in these passages, but the inference from them that Adam’s fall is regarded as the cause of moral depravity, and not merely as its first instance.

Support is given to this interpretation of the evidence by Weber’s summary of the teaching of the Talmud ( Altsyn. Theol . p. 216, quoted by Sanday-Headlam, op. cit. p. 137): ‘By the Fall man came under a curse, is guilty of death, and his right relation to God is rendered difficult. More than this cannot be said. Sin, to which the bent and leaning had already been planted in man by creation, had become a fact; the “evil impulse” (= cor malignum ) gained the mastery over mankind, who can only resist it by the greatest efforts; before the Fall it had had power over him, but no such ascendancy ( Uebermacht ).’ After this quotation Sanday-Headlam continue the discussion in the words: ‘Hence when the writer says a little further on that according to the Rabbis “there is such a thing as transmission of guilt, but not such a thing as transmission of sin (Es gibt eine Erbschuld, aber keine Erbsünde),” the negative proposition is due chiefly to the clearness with which the Rabbis (like Apoc. Baruch ) insist upon free-will and direct individual responsibility’ ( op. cit. p. 137f.).

The conclusion to which one is led is that a common doctrine cannot be confidently affirmed; and that if St. Paul does teach that man’s moral nature was changed for the worse by the Fall, he is not following a clearly expressed and generally accepted Jewish doctrine on the subject. The bearing of his distinctive doctrine of the flesh on, and the meaning of,  1 Corinthians 15:47-48 in relation to the Jewish doctrine of the cor malignum must be reserved for subsequent discussion, while the feature referred to in the above quotation may here be illustrated.

( e ) There can be no doubt of the distinctness and emphasis with which Jewish thought insists on man’s individual responsibility, sometimes even, it would seem, in opposition to the view of a moral solidarity of the race, as the following passages show:  2 Esdras 3:26 ‘In all things doing even as Adam and all his generation had done: for they also bare a wicked heart’; 8:59, 60 ‘The Most High willed not that man should come to nought: but they which be created have themselves defiled the name of him that made them, and were unthankful unto him which prepared life for them’; 9:11, 12 ‘As many as have scorned my law, while they had yet liberty, and, when as yet place of repentance was open unto them, understood not, but despised it  ; the same must know it after death by torment.’ The strongest assertion of the exclusion of the derivation of any guilt from Adam is found, however, in Apoc. Bar . liv. 15, 19: ‘For though Adam first sinned and brought untimely death upon all, yet of those who were born from him each one of them has prepared for his own soul torment to come, and again each of them has chosen for himself glories to come.… Adam is therefore not the cause, save only of his own soul, but each one of us has been the Adam of his own soul’ (Charles’s translation in Apoc. and Pseudepig. of the OT , 1913, ii. 511f.). While St. Paul is constant in his assertion of individual liberty, yet he does not think of opposing it to, or trying to harmonize it with, the common sin of the race, sprung from Adam. Either he was not conscious of any contradiction, or regarded it as a problem insoluble by man’s wisdom.

( f ) On the connexion between Adam’s sin and the introduction of death there is no such uncertainty in the evidence. The curse that rests on man since the Fall is mentioned in  Sirach 40:1 : ‘Great travail is created for many men, and a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam.’ The connexion between death and the woman’s sin stated in 25:24 and between death and the devil’s envy affirmed in  Wisdom of Solomon 2:24 has already been referred to. More explicit is the reference to the narrative of Genesis in 2  Ezra 3:7 : ‘And unto him thou gavest thy one commandment: which he transgressed, and immediately thou appointedst death for him and in his generation.’ So also the Apoc. Bar . xvii. 3: ‘Adam … brought death and cut off the years of those who were born from him’ (cf. xxiii. 4). There are two passages, however, that seem to teach that man was by nature mortal, and that the Fall only hastened the process; ‘Adam first sinned and brought untimely death ( mortem immaturam ) upon all’ (liv. 15); and ‘Owing to his transgression untimely death ( mors quae non erat tempore eius ) came into being’ (lvi. 6). Apart from the two classical passages in St. Paul’s letter on the relation of Christ and Adam in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, which must be discussed in detail, death is connected with sin as its penalty in  Romans 6:23 ‘The wages of sin is death,’ and in  James 1:15 ‘Sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death.’ We must now pass to the discussion of St. Paul’s doctrine of the Fall.

2. St. Paul’s doctrine of the Fall .-Although the classical passage on the subject is  Romans 5:12-21, yet there are references to Adam in  1 Corinthians 15:21-22;  1 Corinthians 15:45;  1 Corinthians 15:49 which may be briefly examined in so far as they present doctrine supplementary to that in Romans 5.

( a )  1 Corinthians 15:21-22 states the same doctrine. The contrast is emphasized in  1 Corinthians 15:45 by the description of the first Adam, in accordance with the account of his creation in  Genesis 2:7, as living soul , while Christ, the last Adam, is a life-giving spirit . Adam was given life by the breath or spirit of God, but could not impart any; Christ not only has life, but gives it. The psychic order of the first Adam necessarily preceded the pneumatic order of the last ( 1 Corinthians 15:46): so far there is no moral censure of the first Adam implied, and the Apostle’s statement corrects an error into which theological speculation on man’s primitive condition often fell. ‘The Apostle,’ says Godet ( ad loc .), ‘does not share the notion, long regarded as orthodox, that humanity was created in a state of moral and physical perfection.… Independently of the Fall, there must have been progress from an inferior state, the psychic, which he posits as man’s point of departure, to a superior state, the spiritual, foreseen and determined as man’s goal from the first’ (quoted by Findlay, Expositor’s Greek Testament , ‘1 Cor.,’ 1900, p. 938). This inferior state did not include for St. Paul the cor malignum , which Jewish thought assigned to Adam. It is not so certain that the next statement, ‘The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven’ ( 1 Corinthians 15:47), refers only to physical origin, and does not indicate moral character.

χοϊκός, as  Philippians 3:19,  Colossians 3:2 suggest, seems to have a moral connotation. But even if this be so, it does not make certain that St. Paul assigned the yezer hara to the unfallen Adam, as, since the reference in the ‘second man from heaven’ is not to the pre-existent Word, but to the Risen Lord, the contrast is between Adam fallen as the source of death to mankind and Christ risen as the fountain of its eternal life. If v. 49 be not merely a prediction, but an exhortation, as many ancient authorities attest (see Revised Version margin), this moral reference becomes certain. This whole passage, accordingly, does disprove the view that man’s primitive condition was one of such perfection that there was no need of progress; but it offers no support to the assumption that St. Paul regarded Adam’s position as so inferior morally that the Fall would to him appear as inevitable. As  Romans 5:14 shows, he assigns to Adam a greater moral culpability than to his descendants before the Law was given, for he transgressed a definite commandment of God. Nor does St. Paul’s doctrine of the flesh ( q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ) justify any such assumption about the moral defect of man’s state before the Fall, as it is not a physical, but an ethical, conception, and relates to mankind as it is for man’s present experience, not to any previous state of man. If we cannot, therefore, identify the flesh with the yezer hara of unfallen man, unless we leave in St. Paul’s system the antinomy of a two-fold origin of sinfulness, one individual, the other racial, we are forced to conclude that in some way he did connect the presence of the flesh in sinful mankind with the entrance of sin at the Fall.

( b ) The further discussion of this topic brings us to the closer consideration of  Romans 5:12-21. (α) The purpose of the passage must be clearly kept in view. St. Paul is not proving man’s universal sinfulness-he has done that by an empirical proof, a historical induction, in chs. 1-3; nor is he concerned to explain the origin of sin. He assumes as not needing any proof that man’s sinfulness is the result of Adam’s fall. From that fact he deduces the conclusion that one person can be so related to the race as to be the author to it of both sin and death. If that be so in the case of Adam, it can be and is so in the case of Christ as the Author of righteousness and life, and even so much more as Christ is superior to Adam. The purpose of the passage is to show that Christ can and does bring more blessing to man than Adam has brought curse. We go beyond what St. Paul’s own intention warrants in asserting that his doctrine of salvation in Christ rests on, and falls to the ground without, his teaching on the Fall. As his proof of the sinfulness of mankind is empirical, so his certainty of salvation in Christ is rooted in his experience, and not in tins opinions he shared with his contemporaries regarding the origin of sin. It is important at the outset of this discussion to assert this consideration, as it will relieve us of the painful anxiety, which many exponents of this passage hitherto have felt and shown, to justify in some sense or another this story of the fall, in spite of the origin criticism now assigns to it, as an essential constituent of Christian theology.

(β) In  Romans 5:12 St. Paul affirms the entrance of sin into the world, and death as its penalty, as the result of Adam’s transgression, and the diffusion of death among mankind in consequence either of Adam’s sin alone, or of the spread of sin among all his descendants. There is this ambiguity about the meaning in the clause ‘for that all sinned,’ which is not only grammatically irregular, but seems even to be logically inconsistent. To fix his meaning we must examine his language very closely. The connective phrase ἐφʼ ᾧ has been variously interpreted. It is improbable that ᾧ is masculine and the antecedent either Adam or death; taking it as neuter, the rendering ‘because’ is more probable than ‘in like manner as’ or ‘in so far as.’ In what sense did ‘all sin’ (πάντες ἤμαρτον)?

(1) The Greek commentators take the obvious sense of the words, regarded apart from the context: ‘all as a matter of fact by their own choice committed sin.’ To this interpretation two objections from the context may be urged. Firstly, if individual death is the penalty of individual sin, Adam is not responsible for the sin or the death, and so there is no parallelism with Christ as the source of righteousness and life to all; but the purpose of the whole argument is to prove a connexion between Adam and the race similar to that between Christ and redeemed humanity. Secondly, in the next verse St. Paul goes on to show that till the time of Moses, in the absence of law, the descendants of Adam could not be held as blameworthy as Adam himself was; while sin was in the world it could not be imputed as personal guilt, incurring of itself, apart from the connexion with Adam, the penalty of death.

(2) Some connexion with Adam must be asserted; but of what kind? An explanation accepted by many commentators, while on grammatical grounds not rendering ἐφʼ ᾧ ‘in whom’ but ‘because,’ yet treats the sentence as convening the equivalent meaning. Bengel presents this view in its classical expression: omnes peccarunt, Adamo peccante . If St. Paul had meant this, why did he not supply the words? it is often asked. But when we observe the irregularity of the structure of the very sentence, introducing such ambiguity into St. Paul’s meaning, we do not seem entitled to expect him to express himself with such logical precision. On this ground alone we must not set aside the explanation. But even if we accept it, what sense are we to attach to the statement that in Adam’s sin all sinned?

(i.) Firstly, there is the realistic explanation: that as Adam was the ancestor of the race, so all his descendants were physically included in him, even as Levi is represented to have paid tithes to Melchizedek ‘in the loins’ of Abraham ( Hebrews 7:9-10). But such a physical explanation only increases the difficulty of understanding the connexion.

(ii.) Secondly, there is the legal explanation, so prominent in the federal theology of the Reformed Church. Adam acted, not for himself alone, but as representative of the race, and so the race shares the responsibility of his act. But to this explanation there is the obvious objection that a representative must be chosen by those for whom he acts, if they are to be in any sense responsible for his acts; and the race had no voice in the choice of its first ancestor. If the objection is met by appealing to a Divine appointment, the plea of injustice is not answered, but the will of God is represented as overriding the rights of man. In a Calvinistic theology alone could such an explanation carry conviction.

(iii.) Thirdly, the explanation more generally accepted is that from Adam all mankind has inherited a tendency to evil, which, while not abolishing individual liberty and responsibility so as to make individual transgression inevitable, yet as a fact of experience has resulted in the universal sinfulness of the race. This is the view of Sanday-Headlam ( op. cit. p. 134), and they support it with the references to Jewish literature already noted. The writer of this article in his Commentary on Romans (Century Bible, 1901) accepted this conclusion. ‘Without expressly stating it, Paul assumes the doctrine of original sin in the sense of an inherited tendency to sin, for what he affirms beyond all doubt here is that both the sin and the death of the human race are the effects of Adam’s transgression’ (p. 154). A further study of the problem has led him, however, to recognize at least the possibility of another explanation. Tennant, who of modern writers has made this subject specially his own, in his three books, The Origin and Propagation of Sin (1902), The Sources of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin (1903), and The Concept of Sin (1912), has not only contended against the doctrine of such an inherited tendency, but has also maintained that this idea is not present in St. Paul’s mind in this passage. Referring to Sanday-Headlam’s objection to Bengal’s explanation that the words ‘in Adam’ would have been given had St. Paul intended that meaning, he presses a similar objection to their view.

‘That suggested by Dr. Sanday and Mr. Headlam, from whose weighty opinion it is here ventured to diverge, is an equally important element to be “supplied.” Indeed, it may be asked whether the idea of inherited sinfulness, as the cause of death to all who come between Adam and Moses, does not call at least as loudly for explicit mention, if St. Paul’s full meaning be expressible in terms of it, as that signified by Bengel’s addition of “in Adam”? Would it not be equally novel to the reader, so far as our knowledge of the thought of that age goes, and more remote from the actual language of the verse and its context?’ ( The Fall and Original Sin , p. 261).

Reserving for subsequent treatment the wider issue of whether this is or is not an inherited tendency to evil, we must meanwhile look at the explanation Tennant himself alters of this verse.

(iv.) Though he rejects the realistic explanation in any form, either as already mentioned or as presented in Augustine’s theory ‘which makes human nature a certain quantum of being and treats descent from Adam as a division of this mass of human nature into parts’ (Stevens, The Pauline Theology , 1892, p. 136f.), he accepts the following explanation:

‘Much more probable, in the opinion or the present writer, is the suggestion that, in his identification of the race and Adam, St. Paul was using a form of thought occurring by no means exclusively in the particular verse of his writings with which we are here concerned. Stevens has appropriately named it “mystical realism.” “It is characteristic at Paul’s mind,” says this writer, “to conceive religious truth under forms which are determined by personal relationship. These relations, especially the two just specified (that of unregenerate humanity to Adam, and of spiritual humanity to Christ), may be termed mystical in the sense of being unique, vital, and inscrutable; they are real in the sense that sinful humanity is conceived as being actually present and participant in Adam’s sin …” ( op. cit. p. 32f., and elsewhere). This mystical realism is a style of thought, a rhetorical mode; it is not a philosophy; the realism is only figurative. St. Paul identifies the race, as sinners, with Adam in the same sense that he identifies the believer with Christ. “The moral defilement of man is represented as contracted in and with the sin of Adam” ( op. cit. p. 37).… This attractive interpretation of St. Paul’s meaning has the great virtue of explaining his words, which involve so many difficulties when taken, as they generally have been, with too much literalness, as only a particular case of a mode of speech which is characteristic of the apostle. And so long as it is not so far pressed as to lose sight of the undeniable connexion between the apostle’s teaching and the somewhat indefinite belief which he inherited from Jewish doctors as to the connexion between the Fall and human sin and death, it would seem to supply the best key to the thought of this difficult passage’ ( The Fall and original Sin , pp. 262-3).

If it be the case that, as Tennant maintains, Jewish thought assigned the cor malignum or the yezer hara to Adam even before his Fall as well as to his descendants, and so did not teach a moral corruption of man’s action of a result of the Fall (see op. cit. pp. 264-5), it does appear more likely that St. Paul did not hold the doctrine, and that accordingly it cannot be here introduced to explain his meaning. If this alternative must be excluded, although the writer is not finally convinced that it must, the explanation Tennant accepts does appear the most probable among all the others already mentioned. It must be frankly admitted that we cannot reach certainty on this matter, and it does not seem at all necessary for a modern reconstruction of Christian doctrine that we should. Whatever St. Paul’s view of the Fall and its consequences may have been, seeing that it rests ultimately on a narrative which modern scholarship compels us to regard as a myth, however purified and elevated in the new context given to it in the record of the Divine revelation, and is influenced directly by contemporary Jewish thought, it cannot be regarded as authoritative for our Christian faith, however great may be its historical interest as an instance of the endeavour of a great mind to find a solution for a great problem.

3. The doctrine of the Fall and modern Christian thought .-Although the writer holds the conviction that it is not necessary for the Christian theologian to try and save as much as he dare of the wreckage of the doctrine of the Fall, after the storm of literary and historical criticism has passed over it, a few sentences may be added in closing this article as to the relation of modern Christian thought to the doctrine.

( a ) What has already been urged must be repeated: that the teaching of the OT regarding sin and salvation does not rest at all on the narrative in Genesis 3, but on the reality of human experience and the testimony of human conscience; that the teaching of Jesus about man as the child of God, though lost, has not this doctrine as its foundation, but comes from the moral insight and spiritual discernment of the sinless Son of God and Brother of men; that, apart from a few casual allusions in the rest of the NT, the two passages which have been considered in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 are the only express statements of the connexion of sin and death with the Fall; and that when we look more closely at the mode in which the classical passage in Romans 5 is introduced we find that its primary intention is not to prove either man’s sinfulness or to offer an explanation of its origin, but to demonstrate the greater efficacy of Christ’s obedience than of Adam’s transgression in their consequences for the race. These are surely weighty reasons why modern Christian thought should no longer assign to the doctrine of the Fall the prominence hitherto accorded to it.

( b ) It is with the presence, guilt, and power of sin in individual experience and racial history, as the human need which the Divine grace in Christ meets, that Christian theology is alone concerned, and all other questions of the origin of sin or death are speculative, and not practical, and should be assigned the secondary place that properly belongs to them.

( c ) Guided by these two considerations, we may lastly ask the question, How much remains of this doctrine for our modern Christian thought? (1) While the unity of the human race has not been demonstrated by science, this theory is not at all improbable, and so descent from one pair of ancestors is not incredible. (2) While death as physical dissolution is proved by science to have been antecedent to man’s appearance on earth, and while death seems a natural necessity for man as a physical organism, we need not try to justify St. Paul by assuming either that God, anticipating human sin, introduced death as its penalty into the very structure of the world at the Creation, or that, had man not sinned, he would so have developed morally and spiritually as to have transcended the natural necessity of death, and have attained immortality (because these speculations have no contact with experience). But we may recognize that for him death was not physical dissolution merely, but death in its totality as it is for the human consciousness, and may press the question, Can it be denied that the terror and darkness of death for the mind and heart of man are due in large measure to his sense of guilt, and the effects of sin on his reason, conscience, and spirit? Between death as such an experience and sin we can even to-day admit that there is a connexion. (3) While the common assumption that the savage represents primitive man is unwarranted, and we may infer that, since man’s mental, moral, and spiritual development in history proves the great distinction between him in his natural endowments and all the lower animals, man was even at the earliest stage of that development already far removed from the brute, yet all speculation as to what he originally was is precarious, as it rests on no solid foundation of assured knowledge. (4) While the dispute as regards the inheritance of acquired characters does not directly affect Christian thought (as it has yet to be proved that the laws of physical and mental or moral inheritance must be identical), yet the Christian theologian is bound to admit that the resemblances we do find between parents and children may be explained by social as much as by physical heredity, by the influence of the moral environment in youth as much as by the inheritance at birth of the moral characteristics of parents. While the writer is not convinced that Tennant has proved his contention, that the appetites and impulses of the child are entirely natural, and that the factor of heredity may be excluded from the origin of sin in the individual, he has at least compelled a reconsideration of the whole question. The sin in the race does affect the development of each member of it whether by social or by physical heredity; but when, where, or how sin first entered we do not know, for that neither can man discover nor has God revealed.

Literature.-In addition to the authorities cited throughout the article, see J. S. Candlish, The Biblical Doctrine of Sin , 1893; J. Laidlaw, The Bible Doctrine of Man , new ed., 1895; H. Wheeler Robinson, The Christian Doctrine of Man , 1911; J. Orr, God’s Image in Man and its Defacement in the Light of Modern Denials , 1905; W. E. Orchard, Modern Theories of Sin , 1909; F. J. Hall, Evolution and the Fall , 1910.

Alfred E. Garvie.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

In Genesis people are the dominion-havers created in the image of God ( Genesis 1:26-28 ). Man and woman are placed on earth with a commandment to obey ( Genesis 1:28 ). The biblical understanding of dominion suggests a serving stewardship rather than mere power ( Matthew 20:25-28 ).

Sin in the Garden Genesis pictures humans as the special creation of God ( Matthew 2:7 ) placed in the special garden created by God ( Matthew 2:8-15 ). Three features are crucial for understanding the human role in the garden: (1) Adam was put in the garden to “dress it and to keep it” ( Matthew 2:15 ). God provided this vocation for man's fulfillment. (2) The first people were granted great freedom and discretion in the garden. This freedom permitted them to take from the goodness of God's creation ( Matthew 2:16 ). (3) Yet their freedom and discretion were limited. God prohibited the taking of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil ( Matthew 2:17 ). Scholars have pointed out that these three features belong uniquely to humans. Each person faces (1) vocation, (2) freedom, and yet (3) prohibition. Full humanity is experienced only when all three of these are maintained. God also met man's only apparent need—the need for community ( Genesis 2:18 ). No partner could be found for him from the parade of animals. This prompted the special creation of woman from man ( Genesis 2:19-22 ). Man immediately saw that she was made of human stuff, unlike the animals. Together they made a one-flesh union with perfect intimacy ( Genesis 2:23-25 ).

The “knowledge of good and evil” would make humans godlike in some way ( Genesis 3:5 ,Genesis 3:5, 3:22 ). Some Bible students understand the tree to hold (1) all knowledge—that is the complete range of experience. Others claim the tree provides (2) knowledge of a moral nature. Some claim the acquired knowledge was simply (3) sexual experience.

The tree's purpose within the narrative provides a clue toward a more satisfactory explanation. The tree was the object and symbol of God's authority. The tree reminded Adam and Eve that their freedom was not absolute but had to be exercised in dependence upon God. In prideful rebellion the couple grasped for the capacity to be completely self-legislating—establishing an absolute self-directing independence. Such absolute dominion belongs only to God. Their ambition affected every dimension of human experience; for example, they claimed the right to decide what is good and evil.

The Serpent. The serpent made a sudden intrusion into the story. The serpent is identified in Genesis only as a creature. Theological reflection has identified him as an instrument of Satan and, thus, legitimately cursed and pictured as the enemy of woman's seed ( Genesis 3:14-15 ). Later Scripture also declares that Satan is the ultimate tempter ( 1 John 3:8;  Revelation 12:9 ). His presence, however, does not diminish mankind's responsibility. Scripture stipulates that man cannot blame his sin on demonic temptation ( James 1:12-15 ).

The serpent began the conversation with a question that obviously distorted or at least extended God's order not to eat of the tree ( Genesis 3:1 ). The questioner invited the woman to enter into a conversation about God and to treat Him and His word as objects to be considered and evaluated. Moreover, the serpent painted God as one who sadistically and arbitrarily placed a prohibition before the couple to stifle their enjoyment of the garden.

The woman apparently felt inclined to defend God's instruction. In her response to the serpent she included a citation of God's command. The text does not tell us how she or the snake came to know God's command. Adam may have passed on this information that he initially received prior to woman's creation ( Genesis 2:17-18 ). She may thus represent all who receive the word of God through “human” instrumentality but who are nevertheless called to believe (compare  John 20:29 ). She responded with a restatement of God's permission to eat freely of the garden provision ( Genesis 3:2 ). She then told of God's prohibition of that one tree in the middle of the garden. Perhaps anxiety over doubting God's character moved her then to add to God's own words; she extended the instruction to include touching the tree, thereby making her own law. It is interesting that the first challenge to God's word did not involve deletion, but addition by both the serpent and the woman. Mankind's first surrender to temptation began with doubting God's instruction and His loving character. Today sinners still ask if God for “no good reason” keeps us from enjoying something He made.

The woman's willingness to judge and her addition to God's instruction, though seemingly harmless, permitted the serpent boldly to continue with a direct attack on God's character. He declared that the couple would not really die. Instead, he argued that God's motive was to keep the couple from being like God. The serpent claimed that the phrases “your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” ( Genesis 3:5 ) are God's reasons for giving the prohibitive command; in reality, these phrases express the human reasons for breaking the command. The couple was unhappy with their freedom as long as they thought more could be had. They sought unrestricted freedom—to be responsible to no one, not even God. The serpent seemed sure that eating would produce equality not death.

The woman stood before the tree. Crudely, she saw the fruit was good for food. In a more refined manner she judged it to be pleasant to the eye. More appealing to her vanity still was the newfound faith that it would bring knowledge ( Genesis 3:6; compare  1 John 2:16 ). She ate of the fruit and gave it to Adam who ate as well. The story of sin is simply told without hearing from the couple. They would now know experientially the results of their broken trust.

Results of Sin Sin had immediate results in the couple's relationship; the self-first and self-only attitude displayed toward God affected the way they looked at one another. The mutual trust and intimacy of the one-flesh bond ( Genesis 2:24 ) was ravaged by distrust. This does not suggest that the knowledge of good and evil was sexual awareness. Intercourse was the command and blessing of God prior to the fall ( Genesis 1:28 ). In the absence of mutual trust, complete intimacy implies complete vulnerability ( Genesis 3:7 ).

The couple also felt compelled to hide from God when they heard Him walking in the garden. When loving trust characterized the couple's attitude, they were apparently comfortable in God's presence. After their sin, shame appropriately marked their relationships—both human and divine ( Genesis 3:8 ). The sinners could not remain hidden. God pursued, asking, “where art thou” ( Genesis 3:9 ). This may be a normal question, but some see it as God's sorrowful anticipation of what follows. Sinners finally must speak to God. Adam admitted that God's presence now provoked fear, and human shame provoked hiding ( Genesis 3:10 ).

God's next question drew the man's attention away from his plight to his sin ( Genesis 3:11 ). The couple had to face their maker. The man admitted his sin, but only after emphatically reminding God that the woman was instrumental in his partaking. Woman shared equally in the deed, but she quickly blamed the deceiving serpent ( Genesis 3:12-13 ). Along with shame, blame comes quite naturally to humankind.

God moved immediately to punish. The serpent was not interviewed because he was not an image-bearer in whom God sought a representation and relationship. The snake's behavior foreshadowed the reversal of created order and mankind's dominion. Once appealing and crafty, the cursed snake became lower than other animals. The judgment included the strife between snakes and humans. Some believe a fuller meaning of the verse promises Christ's ultimate victory over Satan ( Genesis 3:14-15 ).

The woman's punishment was linked to her distinctive role in the fulfillment of God's command ( Genesis 1:28 ). Her privilege to share in God's creative work was frustrated by intense pain. Despite this pain she would nevertheless desire intimacy with her husband, but her desire would be frustrated by sin. Their mutuality and oneness were displaced by male domination ( Genesis 3:16 ). Even today the mark of sin is seen in the degrading domination of women—for example, rape, polygamy, and pornography.

Adam's punishment also involved the frustration of his service. He was guilty of following the woman's sinful advice and eating of the forbidden tree ( Genesis 3:17 ). The fruitful efficiency known prior to the Fall was lost. Now even his extreme toil would be frustrated by the cursed earth. The

earth was apparently cursed because it was within Adam's domain. This corporate mentality is strange to us, but biblical writers recognize nature's need for redemption ( Isaiah 24:1;  Romans 8:19-23;  Colossians 1:15-20 ). Contemporary environmental crises remind us today of human dependence upon sin-injured nature.

Results—Epilogue Man's prerogative to name woman ( Genesis 3:20 ) was a sign of the fallen order, but hope persists. Mankind can carry on because the woman has the capacity to bear children. Hope ultimately emerged from divine determination to preserve His creation. Some may expect God to retreat and leave the sinful people alone to taste the misery that would follow, but grace-giving Yahweh provided clothing for fallen mankind ( Genesis 3:20-21 ).

Yahweh acknowledged the partial truth of the serpent's claim: Adam's and Eve's autonomy had made them like the divine ( Genesis 3:5 ,Genesis 3:5, 3:22 ). In these circumstances, access to the tree of life is inappropriate. Numerous questions regarding the conditional nature of the tree of life are left unanswered here ( Ezekiel 47:12;  Revelation 2:7;  Revelation 22:2 ,Revelation 22:2, 22:14 ,Revelation 22:14, 22:19 ). As a tragic judgment, the sinful pair was driven out of the garden, intended by God as His dwelling place. Guardian cherubim protected the garden and the tree ( Genesis 3:22-24 ) and, thus, graciously protected people from entering into an infinite period of struggle. The serpent's lie concerning death ( Genesis 3:4 ) became visible. Human sin brought death ( Genesis 3:19 ,Genesis 3:19, 3:22 ). Some readers question why death did not come “on that day” as God had apparently promised ( Genesis 2:17 ), but the Hebrew expression may mean simply “when” (NIV; compare REB). One should also be reminded of God's grace to allow life to continue and the Hebrew understanding that death involves separation from God as much as physical death ( Job 7:21;  Psalm 88:5 ,Psalms 88:5, 88:10-12;  Isaiah 38:18-19 ).

New Testament The New Testament writers assumed the fallen state of both humans and nature. Both groan for redemption ( Romans 8:19-23 ). When comparing Adam and Christ, Paul declared that sin and death gained entrance into the world through Adam and that sin and death are now common to all people ( Romans 5:12;  Romans 6:23 ). Adam may be pictured as a representative of mankind, all of whom share in his penalty ( Romans 5:19 ).

Randy Hatchett

King James Dictionary [3]

FALL, pret. fell pp. fallen. L. fallo, to fail, to deceive, Gr. Heb. to fall. Fail agrees better with Heb., but these words may have had one primitive root, the sense of which was to move, to recede, to pass. See Foul.

1. To drop from a higher place to descend by the power of gravity alone. Rain falls from the clouds a man falls from his horse ripe fruits fall from trees an ox falls into a pit.

I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.  Luke 10 .

2. To drop from an erect posture.

I fell at his feet to worship him.  Revelation 19 .

3. To disembogue to pass at the outlet to flow out of its channel into a pond, lake or sea, as a river. The Rhone falls into the Mediterranean sea. The Danube falls into the Euxine. The Mississippi falls into the gulf of Mexico. 4. To depart from the faith, or from rectitude to apostatize. Adam fell by eating the forbidden fruit.

Labor to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.  Hebrews 4 .

5. To die particularly by violence.

Ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.  Leviticus 26 .

A thousand shall fall at thy side.  Psalms 91 .

6. To come to an end suddenly to vanish to perish.

The greatness of these Irish lords suddenly fell and vanished.

7. To be degraded to sink into disrepute or disgrace to be plunged into misery as, to fall from an elevated station, or from a prosperous state. 8. To decline in power, wealth or glory to sink into weakness to be overthrown or ruined. This is the renowned Tyre but oh, how fallen.

Heaven and earth will witness, if Rome must fall, that we are innocent.

9. To pass into a worse state than the former to come as, to fall into difficulties to fall under censure of imputation to fall into error or absurdity to fall into a snare. In these and similar phrases, the sense of suddenness, accident or ignorance is often implied but not always. 10. To sink to be lowered. The mercury in a thermometer rises and falls with the increase and diminution of heat. The water of a river rises and falls. The tide falls. 11. To decrease to be diminished in weight or value. The price of goods falls with plenty and rises with scarcity. Pliny tells us, the as fell from a pound to two ounces in the first Punic war. 12. To sink not to amount to the full.

The greatness of finances and revenue doth fall under computation.

13. To be rejected to sink into disrepute.

This book must stand or fall with thee.

14. To decline from violence to calmness from intensity to remission. The wind falls and a calm succeeds.

At length her fury fell.

15. To pass into a new state of body or mind to become as, to fall asleep to fall distracted to fall sick to fall into rage or passion to fall in love to fall into temptation. 16. To sink into an air of dejection, discontent, anger, sorrow or shame applied to the countenance or look.

Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.  Genesis 4 .

I have observed of late thy looks are fallen.

17. To happen to befall to come.

Since this fortune falls to you.

18. To light on to come by chance.

The Romans fell on this model by chance.

19. To come to rush on to assail.

Fear and dread shall fall on them.  Exodus 15 .

And fear fell on them all.  Acts 19 .

20. To come to arrive.

The vernal equinox, which at the Nicene council fell on the 21st of March, falls now about ten days sooner.

21. To come unexpectedly.

It happened this evening that we fell into a pleasing walk.

22. To begin with haste, ardor or vehemence to rush or hurry to. They fell to blows.

The mixt multitude fell to lusting.  Numbers 11 .

23. To pass or be transferred by chance, lot, distribution, inheritance or otherwise, as possession or property. The estate or the province fell to his brother. The kingdom fell into the hands of his rival. A large estate fell to his heirs. 24. To become the property of to belong or appertain to.

If to her share some female errors fall.

Look in her face and you'll forget them all.

25. To be dropped or uttered carelessly. Some expressions fell from him. An unguarded expression fell from his lips. Not a word fell from him on the subject. 26. To sink to languish to become feeble or faint. Our hopes and fears rise and fall with good or success. 27. To be brought forth. Take care of lambs when they first fall. 28. To issue to terminate.

Sit still, my daughter, till thou knowest how the matter will fall.  Ruth 3 .

To fall aboard of, to strike against another ship.

To fall astern, to move or be driven backward or to remain behind. A ship falls astern by the force of a current, or when outsailed by another.

1. To fall away, to lose flesh to become lean or emaciated to pine. 2. To renounce or desert allegiance to revolt or rebel. 3. To renounce or desert the faith to apostatize to sink into wickedness.

These for awhile believe, and in time of temptation fall away.  Luke 8 .

4. To perish to be ruined to be lost.

How can the soul - fall away into nothing.

5. To decline gradually to fade to languish, or become faint.

One color falls away by just degrees, and another rises insensibly.

1. To fall back, to recede to give way. 2. To fail of performing a promise or purpose not to fulfill.

To fall calm, to cease to blow to become calm.

1. To fall down, to prostrate one's self in worship.

All nations shall fall down before him.  Psalms 72 .

2. To sink to come to the ground.

Down fell the beauteous youth.

3. To bend or bow as a suppliant.  Isaiah 14 . 4. To sail or pass towards the mouth of a river, or other outlet.

To fall foul, to attack to make an assault.

1. To fall from, to recede from to depart not to adhere as, to fall from an agreement or engagement. 2. To depart from allegiance or duty to revolt. 1. To fall in, to concur to agree with. The measure falls in with popular opinion. 2. To comply to yield to.

You will find it difficult to persuade learned men to fall in with your projects.

3. To come in to join to enter. Fall into the ranks fall in on the right.

To fall in with, to meet, as a ship also, to discover or come near, as land.

1. To fall off, to withdraw to separate to be broken or detached. friends fall off in adversity.

Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide.

2. To perish to die away. Words fall off by disuse. 3. To apostatize to forsake to withdraw from the faith, or from allegiance or duty.

Those captive tribes fell off from God to worship calves.

4. To forsake to abandon. His subscribers fell off. 5. To drop. Fruits fall off when ripe. 6. To depreciate to depart from former excellence to become less valuable or interesting. The magazine or the review falls off it has fallen off. 7. To deviate or depart from the course directed, or to which the head of the ship was before directed to fall to leeward. 1. To fall on, to begin suddenly and eagerly.

Fall on, and try thy appetite to eat.

2. To begin an attack to assault to assail.

Fall on, fall on and hear him not.

3. To drop on to descend on. 1. To fall out, to quarrel to begin to contend.

A soul exasperated in ills, falls out with every thing, its friend, itself -

2. To happen to befall to chance.

There fell out a bloody quarrel betwixt the frogs and the mice.

1. To fall over, to revolt to desert from one side to another. 2. To fall beyond.

To fall short, to be deficient. The corn falls short. We all fall short in duty.

1. To fall to, to begin hastily and eagerly.

Fall to, with eager joy, on homely food.

2. To apply one's self to. He will never after fall to labor.

They fell to raising money, under pretense of the relief of Ireland.

1. To fall under, to come under, or within the limits of to be subjected to. They fell under the jurisdiction of the emperor. 2. To come under to become the subject of. This point did not fall under the cognizance or deliberations of the court. These things do not fall under human sight or observation. 3. To come within to be ranged or reckoned with. These substances fall under a different class or order. 1. To upon, to attack. See to fall on. 2. To rush against.

Fall primarily denotes descending motion, either in a perpendicular or inclined direction, and in most of its applications, implies literally or figuratively velocity, haste, suddenness or violence. Its use is so various and so much diversified by modifying words, that it is not easy to enumerate its senses in all its applications.


1. To let fall to drop. And fall thy edgeless sword. I am willing to fall this argument.

This application is obsolete.

2. To sink to depress as, to raise or fall the voice. 3. To diminish to lessen or lower as, to fall the price of commodities. Little used. 4. To bring forth as, to fall lambs. Little used. 5. To fell to cut down as, to fall a tree. This use is now common in America, and fell and fall are probably from a common root.

FALL, n.

1. The act of dropping or descending from a higher to a lower place by gravity descent as a fall from a horse or from the yard of a ship. 2. The act of dropping or tumbling from an erect posture. he was walking on ice and had a fall. 3. Death destruction overthrow.

Our fathers had a great fall before our enemies.

4. Ruin destruction.

They conspire thy fall.

5. Downfall degradation loss of greatness or office as the fall of Cardinal Wolsey.

Behold thee glorious only in thy fall.

6. Declension of greatness, power or dominion ruin as the fall of the Roman empire. 7. Diminution decrease of price or value depreciation as the fall of prices the fall of rents the fall of interest. 8. Declination of sound a sinking of tone cadence as the fall of the voice at the close of a sentence. 9. Declivity the descent of land or a hill a slope. 10. Descent of water a cascade a cataract a rush of water down a steep place usually in the plural sometimes in the singular as the falls of Niagara, or the Mohawk the fall of the Hoosatonuc at Canaan. Fall is applied to a perpendicular descent, or to one that is very steep. When the descent is moderate, we name it rapids. Custom, however, sometimes deviates from this rule, and the rapids of rivers are called falls. 11. The outlet or discharge of a river or current of water into the ocean, or into a lake or pond as the fall of the Po into the gulf of Venice. 12. Extent of descent the distance which any thing falls as, the water of a pond has a fall of five feet. 13. The fall of the leaf the season when leaves fall from trees autumn. 14. That which falls a falling as a fall of rain or snow. 15. The act of felling or cutting down as the fall of timber. 16. Fall, or the fall, by way of distinction, the apostasy the act of our first parents in eating the forbidden fruit also, the apostasy of the rebellious angels. 17. Formerly, a kind of vail. 18. In seamen's language, the loose end of a tackle. 19. In Great Britain, a term applied to several measures, linear, superficial and solid.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

FALL . The story of the Fall in   Genesis 3:1-24 is the immediate sequel to the account of man’s creation with which the Jahwistic document opens (see Creation). It tells how the first man and woman, living in childlike innocence and happiness in the Garden of Eden, were tempted by the subtle serpent to doubt the goodness of their Creator, and aim at the possession of forbidden knowledge by tasting the fruit of the one tree of which they had been expressly charged not to eat. Their transgression was speedily followed by detection and punishment; on the serpent was laid the curse of perpetual enmity between it and mankind; the woman was doomed to the pains of child-bearing: and the man to unremitting toil in the cultivation of the ground, which was cursed on account of his sin. Finally, lest the man should use his newly-acquired insight to secure the boon of immortality by partaking of the tree of life, he was expelled from the garden, which appears to be conceived as still existing, though barred to human approach by the cherubim and the flaming sword.

It is right to point out that certain incongruities of representation suggest that two slightly varying narratives have been combined in the source from which the passage is taken (J [Note: Jahwist.] ). The chief difficulty arises in connexion with the two trees on which the destiny of mankind is made to turn. In  Genesis 2:9 the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil grow together in the midst of the garden; in   Genesis 2:17 the second alone is made the test of man’s obedience. But ch. 3 (down to   Genesis 2:22 ) knows of only one central tree, and that obviously (though it is never so named) the tree of knowledge. The tree of life plays no real part in the story except in   Genesis 3:22;   Genesis 3:24; and its introduction there creates embarrassment; for if this tree also was forbidden, the writer’s silence regarding the prohibition is inexplicable, and if it was not forbidden, can we suppose that the Divine prerogative of immortality was placed within man’s reach during the period of his probation? The hypothesis of a twofold recension of the Paradise story, while relieving this difficulty, would be of interest as showing that the narrative had undergone a development in Hebrew literature; but it does not materially aid the exegesis of the passage. The main narrative, which is complete, is that which speaks of the tree of knowledge; the other, if it be present at all, is too fragmentary to throw light on the fundamental ideas embodied in the story.

That this profoundly suggestive narrative is a literal record of a historic occurrence is an opinion now generally abandoned even by conservative theologians; and the view which tends to prevail amongst modern expositors is that the imagery is derived from the store of mythological traditions common to the Semitic peoples. It is true that no complete Babylonian parallel has yet been discovered; the utmost that can be claimed is that particular elements or motives of the Biblical story seem to be reflected in some of the Babylonian legends, and still more in the religious symbolism displayed on the monuments (tree of life, serpent, cherubim, etc.). These coincidences are sufficiently striking to suggest the inference that a mythical account of man’s original condition and his fall existed in Babylonia, and had obtained wide currency in the East. It is a reasonable conjecture that such a legend, ‘stripped of its primitive polytheism, and retaining only faint traces of what was probably its original mythological character, formed the material setting which was adapted by the [Biblical] narrator for the purpose of exhibiting, under a striking and vivid imaginative form, the deep spiritual truths which he was inspired to discern’ (Driver). These spiritual truths, in which the real significance of the narrative lies, we must endeavour very briefly to indicate.

(1) The story offers, on the face of it, an explanation of the outstanding ills that flesh is heir to: the hard, toilsome lot of the husbandman, the travail of the woman and her subjection to man, the universal fate of death. These evils, it is taught, are inconsistent with the ideal of human life, and contrary to the intention of a good God. Man, as originally created, was exempt from them; and to the question, Whence came they? the answer is that they are the effect of a Divine curse to which the race is subject; though it is to be noted that no curse is pronounced on the first pair, but only on the serpent as the organ of temptation, and the ground which is cursed for man’s sake .

(2) The consequences of the curse are the penalty of a single sin, by which man incurred the just anger of God. The author’s conception of sin may be considered from two points of view. Formally, it is the transgression of a Divine commandment, involving distrust of the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty, and breaking the harmony which had subsisted between man and his Maker. The process by which these evil thoughts are insinuated into the mind of the woman is described with a masterly insight into the psychology of temptation which is unsurpassed in literature. But it is a mistake to suppose that the essence of the sin consists in the merely formal disobedience to a command arbitrarily imposed as a test of fidelity. There was a reason for the Divine injunction, and a reason for man’s transgression of it; and the reasons are unambiguously indicated. To eat of the tree would make man like God, knowing good and evil; and God does not wish man to be like Himself. The essence of the sin is therefore presumption, an overstepping of the limits of creaturehood, and an encroachment on the prerogatives of Deity.

(3) What, then, is meant by the ‘knowledge of good and evil,’ which was acquired by eating of the tree? Does it mean simply an enlargement of experience such as the transition from childhood to maturity naturally brings with it, and of which the feeling of shame ( Genesis 3:7 ) is the significant index? Or is it, as has generally been held, the experimental knowledge of moral distinctions, the awaking of the conscience, the faculty of discerning between right and wrong? It is very difficult to say which of these interpretations expresses the thought in the mind of the writer. It is in accordance with Hebrew idiom to hold that knowledge of good and evil is equivalent to knowledge in general; though it is of course not certain that that is the sense in which the phrase is here used. On the other hand, there is nothing to show that it refers to the moral sense; and the fact that neither of the ways in which the newly acquired faculty manifests itself (the perception of sex, and insight into the mystic virtue of the tree of life,   Genesis 3:22 ) is a distinctively ethical cognition, rather favours the opinion that the knowledge referred to is the power to discern the secret meanings of things and utilize them for human ends, regardless of the will and purpose of God the knowledge, in short, which is the principle of a godless civilization. The idea may be that succinctly expressed by the writer of Ecclesiastes: ‘God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions’ (  Ecclesiastes 7:29 ).

(4) One specific feature of the story remains to be considered, namely, the rôle assigned to the serpent, and his character. The identification of the serpent with the devil appears first in the Apocryphal literature ( Wis 2:24 ); in the narrative itself he is simply the most subtle of the creatures that God has made (  Genesis 3:1 ), and there is not the slightest reason to suppose that he is there regarded as the mouthpiece of the evil spirit. At the same time it is impossible to escape the impression that the serpent is conceived as a malevolent being, designedly insinuating suspicion of God into the minds of our first parents, and inciting them to an act which will frustrate the Divine purpose regarding mankind. There is thus a certain ambiguity in the representation of the serpent, which may have its source in some more primitive phase of the legend; but which also points the way, under the influence of a deeper apprehension of the nature of moral evil than had been attained in the time of the writer, to that identification of the serpent with the Evil One which we find in the NT (  Romans 16:20 ,   Revelation 12:9;   Revelation 20:2 ). In the same way, and with the same justification, the reflexion of later ages read into the curse on the serpent (  Genesis 3:15 ) the promise of ultimate redemption from the power of evil through the coming of Christ. Strictly interpreted, the words imply nothing more than a perpetual antagonism between the human race and the repulsive reptiles which excite its instinctive antipathy. It is only the general scope of the passage that can be thought to warrant the inference that the victory is to be on the side of humanity; and it is a still higher flight of religious inspiration to conceive of that victory as culminating in the triumph of Him whose mission it was to destroy the works of the devil.

J. Skinner.

Webster's Dictionary [5]

(1): ( v. t.) To cease to be erect; to take suddenly a recumbent posture; to become prostrate; to drop; as, a child totters and falls; a tree falls; a worshiper falls on his knees.

(2): ( v. t.) To cease to be active or strong; to die away; to lose strength; to subside; to become less intense; as, the wind falls.

(3): ( v. t.) To find a final outlet; to discharge its waters; to empty; - with into; as, the river Rhone falls into the Mediterranean.

(4): ( v. t.) To descend in character or reputation; to become degraded; to sink into vice, error, or sin; to depart from the faith; to apostatize; to sin.

(5): ( v. t.) To become insnared or embarrassed; to be entrapped; to be worse off than before; asm to fall into error; to fall into difficulties.

(6): ( v. t.) To become prostrate and dead; to die; especially, to die by violence, as in battle.

(7): ( v. t.) To decline in power, glory, wealth, or importance; to become insignificant; to lose rank or position; to decline in weight, value, price etc.; to become less; as, the falls; stocks fell two points.

(8): ( v. t.) To Descend, either suddenly or gradually; particularly, to descend by the force of gravity; to drop; to sink; as, the apple falls; the tide falls; the mercury falls in the barometer.

(9): ( v. t.) To assume a look of shame or disappointment; to become or appear dejected; - said of the countenance.

(10): ( v. t.) To issue forth into life; to be brought forth; - said of the young of certain animals.

(11): ( v. t.) To be overthrown or captured; to be destroyed.

(12): ( n.) The act of felling or cutting down.

(13): ( v. t.) To happen; to to come to pass; to light; to befall; to issue; to terminate.

(14): ( v. t.) To come; to occur; to arrive.

(15): ( v. t.) To pass somewhat suddenly, and passively, into a new state of body or mind; to become; as, to fall asleep; to fall into a passion; to fall in love; to fall into temptation.

(16): ( v. t.) To begin with haste, ardor, or vehemence; to rush or hurry; as, they fell to blows.

(17): ( v. t.) To pass or be transferred by chance, lot, distribution, inheritance, or otherwise; as, the estate fell to his brother; the kingdom fell into the hands of his rivals.

(18): ( v. t.) To belong or appertain.

(19): ( v. t.) To be dropped or uttered carelessly; as, an unguarded expression fell from his lips; not a murmur fell from him.

(20): ( v. t.) To let fall; to drop.

(21): ( v. t.) To sink; to depress; as, to fall the voice.

(22): ( v. t.) To diminish; to lessen or lower.

(23): ( v. t.) To bring forth; as, to fall lambs.

(24): ( v. t.) To fell; to cut down; as, to fall a tree.

(25): ( n.) The act of falling; a dropping or descending be the force of gravity; descent; as, a fall from a horse, or from the yard of ship.

(26): ( n.) The act of dropping or tumbling from an erect posture; as, he was walking on ice, and had a fall.

(27): ( n.) Death; destruction; overthrow; ruin.

(28): ( n.) Downfall; degradation; loss of greatness or office; termination of greatness, power, or dominion; ruin; overthrow; as, the fall of the Roman empire.

(29): ( n.) The surrender of a besieged fortress or town; as, the fall of Sebastopol.

(30): ( n.) Diminution or decrease in price or value; depreciation; as, the fall of prices; the fall of rents.

(31): ( n.) A sinking of tone; cadence; as, the fall of the voice at the close of a sentence.

(32): ( n.) Declivity; the descent of land or a hill; a slope.

(33): ( n.) Descent of water; a cascade; a cataract; a rush of water down a precipice or steep; - usually in the plural, sometimes in the singular; as, the falls of Niagara.

(34): ( n.) The discharge of a river or current of water into the ocean, or into a lake or pond; as, the fall of the Po into the Gulf of Venice.

(35): ( n.) Extent of descent; the distance which anything falls; as, the water of a stream has a fall of five feet.

(36): ( n.) The season when leaves fall from trees; autumn.

(37): ( n.) That which falls; a falling; as, a fall of rain; a heavy fall of snow.

(38): ( n.) Lapse or declension from innocence or goodness. Specifically: The first apostasy; the act of our first parents in eating the forbidden fruit; also, the apostasy of the rebellious angels.

(39): ( n.) Formerly, a kind of ruff or band for the neck; a falling band; a faule.

(40): ( n.) That part (as one of the ropes) of a tackle to which the power is applied in hoisting.

(41): ( v. t.) To sink; to languish; to become feeble or faint; as, our spirits rise and fall with our fortunes.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [6]

The fall of man is among the first of the portraits in the Bible on the great subject of redemption. When Adam came out of the hands of his gracious Creator, we are told, that he was created in the image of God. By which I apprehend, that he was formed in similitude to him who is "the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature." "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." ( Genesis 1:26) What image? Not the image of Jehovah as JEHOVAH, for JEHOVAH is invisible; but, according to what the apostle Paul hath delivered to the church, by the authority and instruction of the Holy Ghost, in the image of him who before all worlds stood up, at the call of God, as the glorious Head of his body the church secretly, though not openly, the "first-born of every creature." Let the reader read the whole passage. ( Colossians 1:15, etc.) "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature. For by him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible; whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the Head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence." Now from hence it plainly appears that Christ as Christ, that is, God and man in one person, had a priority of existence to every other, and was, and is, he image of the invisible JEHOVAH, in whose likeness Adam, the first man, was made. It appears also, that by him, that is, God and man in one person, all things were created. God created all things, we are told, by Jesus Christ. ( Ephesians 3:9)

And it farther appears, that all things were not only created by him, but for him. The whole cause for which JEHOVAH went forth in acts of creation, as relating to our world, was for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yea, more than this; for the same Scripture saith, that he is not only before all things, but by him all things consist. As if this image of the invisible God became the only foundation for creation to rest upon, and the only power to preserve and keep the whole together. This image then of the invisible God was the Person in whose likeness, it should seem, Adam, the first man of the earth, was formed. And, therefore, in the holiness of that similitude, as well in mind as in body, our first parent came forth from the hands of his infinite and kind Creator.

By the fall he lost this resemblance, and all his faculties became ruined and defiled; yea, his whole nature virtually all sin. Hence the Scriptures, under the strongest expressions, speak of the mighty ruin. His understanding became darkened, so as to lose the knowledge of God. ( Ephesians 4:18-19) His affections became carnal, sensual, and devilish. ( Ephesians 2:1-3;  James 3:15) His will stubborn, rebellious, proud, and disobedient. ( 1 Peter 4:3) Yea, his whole mind enmity against God. ( Romans 8:7) The Psalmist, and after him the apostle Paul, hath given some of the more striking features of fallen man, when he saith, "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek after God." But the result of the divine enquiry was, that "they were all gone aside, they were altogether become filthy, there was none that did good, no not one." ( Psalms 14:2-3 with  Romans 3:10-19) Such is the Scripture account of the fall.

Blessed be He that, by his great undertaking, hath restored our poor nature from the ruins of the fall, and by uniting his church, which is his body, to himself, hath given to us a better righteousness than man had before. The holiness of Adam was but the holiness of the creature, peaceable, capable of being lost; and was lost. The holiness of the Lord Jesus, in which all his redeemed are beheld and accepted before God, is the holiness of God-man, perfect, and incapable of being ever lost or lessened. How precious the thought! So then, our present fallen state is not the original state of man, neither is it the final state. In Jesus and his righteousness the injury sustained by the fall is more than repaired, and the everlasting welfare of the church, which is his body, eternally secured from all the possibility of loss from an union and oneness with him. Hail! thou glorious, gracious, holy one of God, "the Lord our righteousness." ( Jeremiah 23:6)

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [7]

 Esther 6:13 (a) This expression is used to describe the defeat of Haman at the hands of the Jews. He would be deposed from his high and exalted position in the kingdom. This of course took place soon. (See  Psalm 5:10;  Psalm 141:10).

 Esther 9:3 (a) The word is used to describe the great fear and apprehension that fell upon the people because of the power given to Mordecai, the Jew.

 Proverbs 26:27 (a) This act is used to describe the conditions of that one who is caught in his own evil schemes and is injured by the plot which he intended for others.

 Hebrews 6:6 (a) The action referred to in this passage has no reference whatever to a Christian. It refers to one who has attached himself to Christianity as glasses are attached to the face, or as earrings are attached to the ears. The ears never fall away, nor does the nose, for they are a part of the body. The Christian is a part of the body of Jesus Christ as is described fully in Ephesians. Professing Christians are attached to the church, or the people of GOD, as Judas was, but they are not a part of that living group known as the Church of Jesus Christ or the body of the Lord Jesus There are those who profess to be saved but have never really been born again. They pretend to adhere to the doctrines of Christ but under pressure and persecution they turn their backs on CHRIST and repudiate that which they pretended at one time to believe.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [8]

See Sin .

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

fôl (vb.): The idea of falling is most frequently expressed in Hebrew by נפל , nāphal , but also by many other words; in Greek by πίπτω , pı́ptō , and its compounds. The uses of the word in Scripture are very varied. There is the literal falling by descent; the falling of the countenance in sorrow, shame, anger, etc. ( Genesis 4:5 ,  Genesis 4:6 ); the falling in battle ( Genesis 14:10;  Numbers 14:3 , etc.); the falling into trouble, etc. ( Proverbs 24:16 ,  Proverbs 24:17 ); prostration in supplication and reverence ( Genesis 17:3;  Numbers 14:5 , etc.); falling of the Spirit of Yahweh ( Ezekiel 11:5; compare  Ezekiel 3:24;  Ezekiel 8:1 ); of apostasy ( 2 Thessalonians 2:3;  Hebrews 6:6;  Judges 1:24 ), etc. the Revised Version (British and American) frequently changes "fall" of the King James Version into other words or phrases, as "stumble" ( Leviticus 26:37;  Psalm 64:8;  2 Peter 1:10 , etc.), "fade" ( Isaiah 33:4 ), etc.; in Acts 27, the Revised Version (British and American) reads "be cast ashore on rocky ground" for "have fallen upon rocks" ( Acts 27:29 ), "perish" for "fall" ( Acts 27:34 ), "lighting upon" for "falling into" ( Acts 27:41 ).