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Close to almost all the well-known cultures of the world offer unique and different orientations of the fall of man and origin of sin. For instance, the Egyptian culture espoused on a remarkable golden age that was washed down by the coming of the “ancestress of woman” and that of a serpent, while Greek literature explains the fall of man through Pandora’s curiosity, which led to the release of evil wrath into the world. But the most widely known and accepted story is embedded in the biblical literature where Adam and Eve are the genesis of fall of man (Kaufman, 352).
The first view of the fall of man embedded in the bible teaching is attributed to Gordon Kaufman, a Harvard theologian. According to him, the biblical view that the fall is due to eating of the forbidden fruit in the middle of the Garden of Eden by both, Adam and Eve, is a perfect way of postulating that man has become a sinner due to his new ability to differentiate between good and evil.Therefore, when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, there was no more need of God in their lives since they were able to decide on how to act. Hence, due this fall, man is said to have developed a great sense of autonomy (Kaufman, 354).
Kaufman holds the view that the fall cannot be attributed to man alone, but through his relationship with the serpent. Such assertion depicts the world of nature. Therefore, the fall of man is linked to his interaction with nature which happened without giving much providence to God, his creator. Such great autonomy gave man enormous power over his own life as well as nature. In essence, Kaufman declares that, when man has cut his relationship with God, he has become free and can think independently for his own actions now (Kaufman, 358).
According to Kaufman, the story of the Garden of Eden reflects an idyllic state. In this state, man and God had the most intimate relationship ever witnessed in the history of the world. For instance, God would always come to visit Adam and Eve in the morning and evening where they had face to face conversation with each other. The bible further depicts that before the fall, Adam and Eve were naked but they would not feel ashamed of their status; this is a wonderful manifestation of the open and uninhabited relationship that existed between man and God (Kaufman, 358).
Kaufman as a renowned figure in tracing the fall of man goes a head to demystify on the possible repercussions and effects of the fall of man. To his amazement, Kaufman realizes that the effects of this fall are fatal in nature. This fall has made man to create his own standards of what are good and evil, standards that differ from one person to the other. Hence, what is a taboo in one country is viewed as a norm in another. For instance, the western democracies think homosexuality is a nice thing and have entrenched the rights of homosexuals in their constitutions, on the other hand, Islamic states and African nations feel the opposite, and this brings a tag of war (Kaufman, 359).
Kaufman therefore summarizes that the fall of man has led to dreaded consequences on the side of man. Human beings continuously manipulate the environment for their own selfish good without giving reverence to the creator of that environment. Many countries of the world have continued to interfere with the environment in the name of economic prosperity. This is manifested by the increasing levels of pollution with no country willing to take responsibility for the destruction of Mother Nature. The resultant effects are real and are bound to destroy human beings completely. Global warming are not news any more, earthquakes, tides, floods and other catastrophic events symbolizes the fall of man. Kaufman interestingly concludes by saying that all subsequent generations of Human Race are affected by the fall of Adam. That is, each generation is tied by the experiences and mistakes of their forefathers. For instance, the bible outlines clearly that the fall of one man led to sin for the whole world, it again says that the wages of sin is death which now continues to consume every human race in the planet earth (Kaufman, 359).
The second interpretation of the fall of man is found in Christian Gnosticism. The important figure of this view is Berdyaev; he argues that the biblical story of Garden of Eden reflects man’s pre-historical state. That is, Eden was made of those unconscious periods when man was best described as “vegetable bliss” and had not developed any innate ability to differentiate between good and evil deeds (Berdyaev, 23).
Berdyaev holds that before the fall of man, he lived in a period of perfect innocence and harmony with everything. The departure and going into exile from Eden by Adam and Eve shows a shift from the original plan. This new shift is characterized by a feeling of guilt by man for running away from God. To make things more complicated, the cosmos also seems to have gone a drift from man. In comparison, the original paradise had harmony and everything was a bliss whereas man’s present state is characterized by lots of evil things such as dividedness, hate, anxiety, and struggles. Such present struggles are traced back tothe period when man has eatenof the forbidden fruit and gained consciousness.And this view is very close to my own.(Berdyaev, 28).
Berdyaev also offers a different view point from what is usual to many Christians. He admits that eating of the fruit by Adam and Eve exiled man completely from the original paradise, but man also gained considerably in this mess. This exile has made it possible for man to rise to a higher level of consciousness and subsequently reach a higher state of existence. That is, the fall of man should not just be treated as mans degradation but that it raised him to a higher level of insight and reasoning. Man is now free to make his/her decisions and subsequently create new values; something that wouldn’t have been possible if he didn’t fall (Berdyaev, 28).
This view by Berdyaev has a great extent of similarity to what John Milton believed in. For instance, the fall of man according to Milton is because of his forgetfulness. He goes ahead to expound that the fall has ditched man into a disaster as he now struggles with all forms of troubles. In essence, both views are in conformity in that the new state of man is degenerative and secondary to the kind of life he originally had in the Garden of Eden. The big question now is what man should do restore the original intended purpose of god?