Center for Tanakh Based Studies
Many of us who walked away from Christianity and towards the Torah brought with us some questionable baggage. Many of these Christian teachings have permeated our subconscious. Mostly because some of the sermons and theology we were taught are supposedly from the Tanakh (Old Testament). This may be why we give them credence, even though our belief has change. One of the stories that comes to mind is the serpent, or in Christianity, AKA “Satan” who tempted man and brought about death to all of humanity. Although, on the surface this may appear plausible, after researching it, we will find out that it is inconsistent with God’s Word. Remember, it is crucial when we cleanse ourselves of wrongful teachings that we use His Holy Word. The Tanakh is our purging agent.
The New Testament lays out the case that because of Adam’s sin (eating the forbidden fruit) mankind is now doomed to death (Romans.5:12,19, 2 Corinthians 11:3). This concept is referred to as “Original Sin. Websters tells us Original Sin is “the state of sin that according to Christian theology characterizes all human beings as a result of Adam’s fall”. It is like Adam poisoned all of humanity with his one rebelios bit.… “but wait”, we have the antidote – it is the Christian messiah (Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9, Hebrews 7:25). This is a huge motivator that has brought flocks of people to the church. Yet, what if this whole theology that Adam caused the disease of death to mankind is a misdiagnoses. We have to admit, as Christians, one of the reason JC was so important is because of our fear of the afterlife, especially if you add in a hell (a non-Tanakh belief). Yet, what if you found out that JC was just a placebo ? Many would stop going to church and hopefully would spend their time trying to find the true God.
So where did the theology of “Original Sin” start? It was actually Augustine of Hippo that taught it. Augustine was an early Christian theologian and philosopher. He lived between 354 – 430 CE, thus his teachings would have been in the 3rd or 4th century. This would have been 800 years after the Tanakh was penned, but would have been about the same time that the Christian bible was canonized. Interestingly, Augustine was very influential in the canonization process. Another point to ponder is where did Augustine’s pick up this understanding. Remember, Augustine came up with the “Original Sin” concept before the New Testament was accepted. You see, before the New Testament, there were numerous books with diversified theologies that Christians followed. In Augustine’s case, his greatest influence would have been a gentleman known as Irenaeus. Irenaeus was an early Church Father whose writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. He was also Augustine’s teacher. In the early Christian church credibility was given to how close a person was to witnessing the events of the New Testament. So as the order goes; the Christian messiah taught the Apostles, who educated Polycarp (69 – 155 CE), who instructed Irenaeus (130 -202 CE) and it was Irenaeus who educated Augustine. I guess they were looking for men closest to the source. That being said, Augustine’s opinion about “original sin” differed from his teacher, Irenaeus. Irenaeus interpreted that original sin was God’s necessary step for the education of mankind 2. So it can be said within Christianity, the idea of “Original Sin” morphed as it went down the line of Christianity’s forefathers.
Now we know that the teaching of “Original Sin” was born more than 4 millenniums after Adam. So, what does God Word say? If we actually examine Genesis 3, blocking out the “Original Sin” sermons of the past, we might hear a clearer message. For starters, the serpent, is just a serpent (Genesis 3:1). Point and case, in the three other books of the Tanakh that mention Satan, God has no problem calling Satan, Satan (1 Chronicles x 1, Job x 11, Zechariah x2). So why would He have to talk in code in Genesis? As for sinning, Adam did sin, but he had “free will” which is going to result in sin eventually. God knew this, we can tell this from His dialog with Adam before Adam eats the fruit. As you recall, God gave Adam rules and consequences (Genesis 2:16-17). You see, because of “free will” God knew man might choose evil. So, He established repercussions well before the great produce incident and He would continue to do this throughout the Torah.
Another point to ponder is that by saying we, as all of humanity, suffered the consequences of Adam’s sin is to say that we are suffering for our forefather. This is inconsistent with God’s Word. Children are not to suffer for their parent’s sins; Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chronicles 25:4; Ezekiel 18:20. Likewise, no one can intercede for us. This is proven in Exodus 32:30-33 when Moses tried to Intercedes for Israel:
“The next day Moshe said to the people, “You have committed a terrible sin. Now I will go up to Adonai ; maybe I will be able to atone for your sin.” Moshe went back to Adonai and said, “Please! These people have committed a terrible sin: they have made themselves a god out of gold. Now, if you will just forgive their sin! But if you won’t, then, I beg you, blot me out of your book which you have written!” Adonai answered Moshe, “Those who have sinned against me are the ones I will blot out of my book.”
God established this intercession standard as far back as the Exodus, and He can’t go back on His Word (Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29). This means not even JC can intercede for us. Additionally, if the antidote to death hadn’t showed up until JC, how did father Abraham make it into heaven (Luke 16:22)?
There is no doubt the “Original Sin” sermon makes an appealing and powerful message. In truth, it could be considered a cornerstone to the Christian faith. But, upon further examination one would have to go contrary to Torah to make it stick. Remember, God already came up with a salvation plan. So don’t look towards a human deity for an antidote when it already exists in the Tanakh; Isaiah 30:15, Malachi 3:16, Psalm 50:23, 51:19, 85:10, 103:17.
- Augustine of Hippo, Contra Julianum, V, 4.18; PL 44, 795
- “Evolution and the Sin in Eden.” Lifeissues.net,