Saint Paul Writing His Epistles
"και αδαμ ουκ ηπατηθη..."
When I was about 12 years old, I heard our pastor at First Baptist Church of Salem, Arkansas
, David Keyes, give a sermon on 1 Timothy 2:13-14:
13. αδαμ γαρ πρωτος επλασθη ειτα ευα 14. και αδαμ ουκ ηπατηθη η δε γυνη απατηθεισα εν παραβασει γεγονεν (Textus Receptus 1550/1894)
15. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. (King James Version)
Pastor Keyes presented his view that Adam, not being deceived, had chosen to eat the fruit of knowledge because he loved Eve and did not wish to be separated from her. At the time, I found this interpretation surprising, but as a mere 12-year-old kid, I didn't know what to make of it.
Yesterday, I heard Pastor Jack Peters, of Seoul International Baptist Church
, present a similar message, but he started with Romans 5:12-14:
12. δια τουτο ωσπερ δι ενος ανθρωπου η αμαρτια εις τον κοσμον εισηλθεν και δια της αμαρτιας ο θανατος και ουτως εις παντας ανθρωπους ο θανατος διηλθεν εφ ω παντες ημαρτον 13. αχρι γαρ νομου αμαρτια ην εν κοσμω αμαρτια δε ουκ ελλογειται μη οντος νομου 14. αλλ εβασιλευσεν ο θανατος απο αδαμ μεχρι μωσεως και επι τους μη αμαρτησαντας επι τω ομοιωματι της παραβασεως αδαμ ος εστιν τυπος του μελλοντος (Textus Receptus 1550/1894)
12. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13. For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (King James Version)
Peters noted that the term in Greek for word "figure" in verse 14 is τυπος
, or "type," meaning that Adam was an antetype of Christ (i.e., "him that was to come"). So far, so good. He then argued that in the clause "them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression," Paul refers to all human beings after Adam, for Adam was innocent until he sinned, whereas all others are born flawed by original sin already prior to their first sinful decision.
I'll return to this point later, but let me finish the minister's argument.
Peters then turned to 1 Timothy 2:13-14 and presented a reading similar to the one that I had heard from David Keyes back in Arkansas when I was about 12. But he took the argument a bit further. Adam was a "type" of Christ because prior to his fall, he was pure in body, soul, and mind, and he chose to 'sacrifice' himself out of a pure love for Eve because he could not bear being separated from her and believed that God would ultimately redeem Eve (and humanity).
Peters said that he has come to this interpretation because he was trying to determine the way in which Paul meant that Adam was a type of Christ, and he concluded that Paul meant that Adam's choice to join Eve in her fallenness was made with his perfect, unfallen thinking, for as the text states, "Adam was not deceived."
Variants upon this interpretation seem to have a history in Protestant exegesis (and possibly Catholic as well?), for John Milton presents a similar reading in Paradise Lost 9
.888-1015 but with an important distinction, as is made clear in lines 990-999, when Eve hears Adam's decision to accept the fruit of knowledge:
So saying, she embrac'd him, and for joy 
Tenderly wept, much won that he his Love
Had so enobl'd, as of choice to incurr
Divine displeasure for her sake, or Death.
In recompence (for such compliance bad
Such recompence best merits) from the bough 
She gave him of that fair enticing Fruit
With liberal hand: he scrupl'd not to eat
Against his better knowledge, not deceav'd,
But fondly overcome with Femal charm. (PL 9.990-999)
Both Adam and Eve imagine that Adam chooses to accept the fruit of knowledge as a sort of self-sacrifice (as the larger context would make clear), but Milton tells us that Adam is "fondly overcome with Femal charm," and in Milton's day, "fondly" meant "foolishly."
Milton thus seems aware of an interpretation that reads Adam's choice as a sort of noble self-sacrifice, but he rejects that reading in favor of a Medieval one whereby Adam is 'seduced' by Eve's feminine charms.
I wonder if the interpretation that has Adam choosing to sacrifice himself for Eve out of a sense of nobility owes something to the Medieval Romance tradition in which the knight boldly faces death in the willingness to give up his life for his lady. That would be an interesting twist on a Hegelian cunning of reason! That the Romance tradition, which Milton rejects, might have influenced some Protestant readings of 1 Timothy 2:13-14!
At any rate, I find Milton's reading more psychologically nuanced than the fascinating sermon that I heard yesterday, for if Adam were choosing to join Eve in her mortal condition out of purely noble motives, then we're confronted with the difficulty of explaining how a still-perfect, undeceived Adam could have made such an astoundingly
bad decision as to disobey a divine command given him directly by God.
Milton sees the problem and shows Adam reaching his decision by degrees, each step taking him further along in ever more fallacious reasoning toward his fall. Remaining undeceived in his better knowledge, Adam nevertheless foolishly allows his judgement to be overwhelmed by Eve's charms.
Peters began his sermon by searching for the analogy mentioned in Romans 5:14 between Adam and Christ, but his understanding of the analogy breaks down if Adam and Christ make their choices in dissimilar ways, and the clearest difference is that whereas Christ is presented as accepting death as God's will for him, Adam can only be understood as choosing 'death' against God's will, for he breaks an explicit, divine command.
Moreover, I think that Peters has misread Romans 5:12-14. Let's look again:
12. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13. For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
A careful, contextual reading of the clause "even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression" would have it refer not to all people everywhere and every time but to the biblical period between Adam and Moses, the point being that even for those who did not sin in the same way that Adam had sinned, death still reigned. They did not sin in the same way that Adam did because unlike Adam, they had no law forbidding specific sins, whereas Adam had one overidding 'law': do not eat the fruit of knowledge. After Moses, human beings once again had God's law and thus sinned consciously, as Adam had done -- or so I take Paul to mean.
But now, I'm really curious where this Protestant exegesis that I heard yesterday comes from.
Labels: 1 Timothy, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Romans, Saint Paul