Did you know that the immortality of man before the fall is a christian concept invented and extrapolated by Augustines fairly subjective interpretation of Romans 5:12? Before then nobody in their right mind had thought of such a thing, the Jews did not hold that belief at all, neither did the early christians before the 3rd century C.E.
Yet is was an essential part of the Doctrine of Original Sin, which again is not a biblical concept. This doctrine of Original Sin was masterminded by Augustine and has been a right royal pain in everyones life. It is also totally wrong.
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Sin entered the world through the act of mankind, and death came to mankind because of sin, that is the essence of the verse above. Death comes to all men because we all become sinners. We are not born sinners, we become sinners.
But upon carful study of the verse, we also find that this event is ONLY speaking of mankind, not the rest of the natural world. The rules for mankind were different from the very beginning. They were charged with being the worlds stewards, to this end they lived in Eden, which was part of Gods Palace, so to speak. The bible speaks of Gods Holy Mountain, and Eden was located on it or near it. Within Eden there were two Trees, one the Tree of Life and two, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The text only disallows mankind from eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, never once is that interdiction referenced in relation to the Tree of Life.
When Adam and Eve are expelled from Eden it is to keep them from partaking of the Tree of Life, but that does not mean that they had not done so before their sin. They had what we can call "Conditional Immortality", they were not inherently immortal in their own right.
Basically what this tells us is that they were an exception to the rule, they were being kept alive and well, by artificial or outside means, under normal circumstances they would be sharing the fate of all natural creatures in the universe, death and decay.
People fail to realize that the death that entered the world, was the death to mankind, not death being introduced into the universe. Death is part of the natural order of the physical universe, without it, we could not even have stars and planets, much less life on earth.
The truth of the words of God are absolutely clear, it is our English translations that cause the misunderstanding...
you shall die dying
For the information of the mere English reader, we remark that byom is formed from the particle b, which is here a proposition as well as a prefix; and yom which signifies day, definite, or otherwise, according to the context.
Bayt or b has many countersigns in our language, among which are in, against, to, after, etc. We have selected from these the last. B or Bayt is used in this sense in Numb. 28:26, where it is prefixed to the word sebothikam, which is rendered 'after your weeks;' ie, your weeks having expired, or from the expiration of your weeks, 'ye shall have a holy convocation;' so in the case before us, 'after the day of the eating,' or the day of the eating having passed; or, 'from the day of thy eating dying thou shalt die.'
Not, "on the day", but rather "after the day".
As to the phrase 'dying you shall die,' no criticism is needed; for it is admitted as the correct rendering on every side.
As such the correct interpretation is not a literal 24 hour period where death would occur after disobedience. It is quite clearly an expression that death would come to them over time, but they would most certainly die. Dying, you shall die. We all are dying at this very moment, little by little, cell by cell.
Mankind was never created immortal, what kept Adam and Eve from dying was access to the tree of life, when that access was denied, they proceeded to age and die.
A philosophical question, how could a command not to eat under a penalty of death have been motivation if they did not even know what death was? For me, they knew exactly what it was, they saw death often in the natural course of things, they were just exempt from it by the partaking of the Tree of Life. (which being a figure of Jesus Christ, who is the eternal giver of life, makes alot more sense than doing away with all the natural laws of the universe.)
I actually agree with you about the tree of life and how removal from it caused a slow death. That meets god's precise promise, as you point out, but that only highlights the condition in which man was created; immortal. The immortality was removed when he was removed from access to the tree of life, or perhaps, actually, to his connection with god . With the god of the bible story, even mortality and immortality is his to command and to alter. Conditional if you like. It is always conditional on god's grace, but existent in his creation of humanity.
As to the rest of nature at that time, it is guess work. Revelation describes a world where death and decay do not occur, Adam and eve ate fruit and nuts. In our physics, for fruit and nuts to occur, there must be growth, and hence death and decay, but if the new earth can exist without such things, then so could eden, in a state where modern physics did not apply, and fruit and nuts perpetually existed without growth or decay.
To believe in the creation story of genesis at all, requires belief big enough to accept the creative powers of a being quite able to order physical laws at his will, and to make a world as he wanted it to be. Ohterwise we get bogged down in arguments like "How did the human body process the food it ate without bacterial processes involving death and decay?" The easy answer is of course thatthe writers had no knowledge of such things. The harder one is that things were very differnt then. And in any creationists world view, indeed the wolrd WAS very different then, and will be again
As a non biblical literalist, i can only interpret and make sense of the bible from the words within it, as a story told and received several millenia ago The idea of the immortality of man at creation is an idea inherent in the bible story itself. I only read the bible after I was an adult, educated in a number of disciplines at university including; literature, politics, geography, history, psychology and some sociology, and that concept was perfectly clear to me , without any outside knowledge or understanding, but simply from the text of the bible itself
The story does not make sense without immortality as a condition of both creation, and ultimately recreation. Man ends up where he began, in the new eden, restored to a relationship with god, and to his original immortal condition. Jesus is a template/archetype of this condition; immortality, mortality/death, resurrection and immortality.
Now a jew might not quite see the whole thing the same way, but a christian, or a person simply reading the whole bible, must interpret holistically the bible, from alpha to omega, in order to make their best interpretation of what it is saying. I am possibly wrong, but thats my best interpretation, and i do not "need validation" from historical interpretations to deconstruct a piece of literature. .
Edited by Mr Walker, 29 December 2012 - 01:09 AM.