Doctrine & Theology Paradise, the original state of man, and the fall

nagareboshi

Kingfisher
Orthodox
One of the best-kept secrets of the Orthodox church is the teaching on Paradise and the original state of man. If it were not for secular materialism, we should be talking about this teaching 24/7, because it contains everything necessary for salvation. From my own experiences in latin-catholic, american-anglican, and orthodox jewish discourse on this matter, I have become convinced that literally no one has the right answer to unlock the book of Genesis except the Orthodox Catholic Church.

Fr. Seraphim Rose wrote "the one book" solving all of these questions for the modern American mind. Genesis, Creation, and Early Man. This book is an EXCELLENT introduction to the matter, going over the origins of western secularism, the flaws in its logic, scientific evidence discovered to the contrary, what the Holy Church Fathers taught about Genesis, how the latin-catholic church in particular fell astray on this holy and wise teaching. The only one complaint I have about the book is that I wish it talked in more detail, or contained more meditations, about the state of man in Paradise.

Adam was master of elements, master of beasts (including human passions), and could understand creation
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The fruit of the tree caused "self-seeing" for the first time
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Why did the devil want to tempt Adam?
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Creation itself was cursed for Adam's sake

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There was no sex in the Garden of Eden before the fall
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In the paradise state, or in the state of the virtuous man, animals behave in harmony with one another and do not eat meat
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Eating meat is a "new privilege" which is granted to Noah, long after the expulsion of Adam
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All humans are literally descended from Noah, and from Noah came all the tribes of the world


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nagareboshi

Kingfisher
Orthodox
St. Symeon the New Theologian on Adam. Fr. Ted (OCA) has a blog series about this topic.


“So, being made of dust from the earth, and having received a breath of life which the word calls an intelligent soul and the image of God, he was placed in the garden to work and given a commandment to keep. How so? So that, as long as he did keep it and work, he would remain immortal and compete everlastingly with the angels, and together with them would praise God unceasingly and receive His illumination and see God intelligibly, and hear His divine voice. But in that same hour that he should transgress the commandment given him and eat of the tree from which God had commanded him not to eat, he would be given over to death and be deprived of the eyes of his soul. He would be stripped of his robe of divine glory; his ears would be stopped up, and he would fall from his way of life with the angels and be chased out of paradise. This indeed did happen to the transgressor, and he fell from his eternal and immortal life. For once Adam had transgressed God’s commandment and lent his ear for the deceitful devil to whisper in, and was persuaded by him on hearing his cunning words against the Master Who had made him, he tasted of the tree and, perceiving with his senses, he both saw and beheld with passion the nakedness of his body. He was justly deprived of all those good things. He became deaf. With ears become profane he could no longer listen to divine words in a manner which was spiritual and adequate to God, as such words resound only in those who are worthy. Neither could he see the divine glory any longer, in that he had voluntarily turned his intellect away from it and had looked upon the fruit of the tree with passion, and had believed the serpent who said: ‘In that now that you eat of it, you will be as gods, knowing good and evil’ (Gen 3:5).” (St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022AD), ON THE MYSTICAL LIFE Vol 2, p 165)
“It is thus the case that Adam was created with an incorruptible body, though one which was material and not yet spiritual, and was established by God the Creator as the immortal king of an incorrupt world, and I mean by the latter everything under heaven and not just Paradise. … Adam chose not to believe the words which his Maker and Lord had spoken to him … Immediately, he was stripped of his incorruptible vesture and glory, and clothed with the nakedness of mortality. … And God tries to bring him to repentance by asking: ‘And who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat.’ But Adam will not admit that he has sinned. Instead, he tries to put the blame on God Who had made all things ‘very good,’ … and the woman in her turn ascribes blame to the serpent, and because both of them absolutely would not repent and fall down before their Master to ask His forgiveness, He removes them and throws them out of the royal palace, the dwelling-place of nobility—I mean Paradise—so that they must live afterwards on this earth as foreigners and exiles. … It was therefore altogether fitting that Adam, who had been brought down to corruption and death by his own transgression, should inhabit an earth become in like manner transitory and mortal, and that he should worthily partake of its food. Since unrestricted pleasure, and an incorrupt and effortless way of life had led him to forget that every good thing had come from God, and had brought him to despise the commandment which had been given him, he was justly condemned to work the earth with effort and sweat, and to draw from it, as from some niggardly steward of an estate, his daily bread. Do you see how the earth, now cursed and deprived of its spontaneous germination, received the transgressor? What for and why? So that, worked by him with labor and sweat, it should provide its fruits in a manner proportionate to his needs, but , without cultivation, that it should remain without fruit, productive only of thorns and thistles.” (St. Symeon the New Theologian, ON THE MYSTICAL LIFE Vol 1, pp 26-29)
“As holy Scripture says, God willed from the very beginning to make His own good ours as well. He bestowed free will on the first created couple, our ancestors, and through them on us. This was in order that, not from sorrow or necessity, but as moved by a favorable disposition they should follow His commandment and do it with joy. Thus they would be accounted as having acquired the virtues by their own efforts, in order to offer them up as their gift to the Master and so progressively be led up by them to the perfect image and likeness of God, and approach the Unapproachable without suffering bodily death or the danger of being consumed by His fire, and one by one, generation upon generation, draw near to Him. But since the first couple submitted first to the will of the enemy and became transgressors of God’s commandment, they not only fell away from the greater hope, which is to say, from entering into the Light itself which neither fades nor has an evening, but were changed as well into corruption and death. They fell into lightless darkness and, becoming slaves to the prince of the dark and ruled over by him, they entered through sin into the darkness of death. Later we, too, who were born of them stepped to the will of this tyrant and were enslaved. This did not happen by compulsion, as is show clearly by those who lived before the Law and under the Law. . . . Then the Lord Who loves mankind… Who is able to do all things and is beneficent, undertook to accomplish this world through Himself. For the man whom He had made by His own invisible hands according to His image and likeness He willed to raise up again, not be means of another but by Himself, so that indeed He might the more greatly honor and glorify our race by His being likened to us in every respect and become our equal by taking on our human condition. O what unspeakable love for mankind! The goodness of it! That not only did He not punish us transgressors and sinners, but that He Himself accepted becoming such as we had become by reason of the Fall: corruptible man born of corruptible man, mortal born of a mortal, sin of him who had sinned, He Who is incorruptible and immortal and sinless. He appeared in the world only in His deified flesh, and not in His naked divinity. Why? Because He did not, as He says Himself in His Gospels, wish to judge the world but to save it.” (St. Symeon the New Theologian, ON THE MYSTICAL LIFE Vol 1, pp 143-145)

Man was originally called to be the ruler of all under heaven, but he sinned and became a slave of Satan, and this state of slavery is passed down to man's descendants (although Christ later broke the state of slavery for those who would repent and believe in Him). It naturally follows, then, that for the time being, Satan is the natural ruler of all under heaven in the fallen world, which is why the material creation is created good, but exists now in the shadow of death, and acts in chaos.
 
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MichaelWitcoff

Hummingbird
Orthodox
If anyone wants a copy of Created In Incorruption, a collection of Hieromonk Damascene’s talks and writings on this topic, send me a DM and I’ll send you the PDF. It’s not currently in print (was originally featured in the Orthodox Word magazine) and is very hard to find, as well as being one of the things that brought me to Orthodoxy in the first place.
 

nagareboshi

Kingfisher
Orthodox
"... male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply...." Gen 1:27-28

As mentioned in the reading, multiplication isn't the same thing as sexual reproduction. For comparison, we know that the angels in the heavens have a method of rational multiplication, and the mechanism is not known to us.

Additionally, our original command was to be fruitful and multiply for the glorification of God, but after the fall, through which death entered the world, the command to multiply took on an additional meaning of replenishing the human race, which will go extinct without reproduction. This is a new problem that emerged only after the expulsion.
 

Yeagerist

Woodpecker
Orthodox Catechumen
This is a really interesting topic, even for me who's already familiar with Eastern Orthodoxy for a couple of years. I think the running theme of the patristic writings on this topic is that heaven and earth are literally intertwined with matter (both nature and Adam before his fall) being "imbued" by the uncreated energies of God. And that the Fall was not just a spiritual corruption but also a biological, physical and chemical corruption as well. Now I understand why the Book of Genesis and the Church Fathers' writings on the original state of man are in complete contrast to evolution, both in fact and in spirit. Adam's perfect state before the fall could "override" the laws of physics (to use terminology that would be more familiar to 21st Century people), hence why the elements could not harm him back then.

Human reproduction was probably intended for some other purpose, which had never been revealed to mankind because of sin, and not the continued survival of the "species" because of the older generations dying. Interestingly, this is one of the tenets of secular evolutionism, that all the developments in the features of species are meant for self-preservation. And look how this worldview has affected the lifestyle of many people today in a godless, materialist society: their actions are meant for "making the most" out of the present life, because they don't expect anything after the death of the body.
 

nagareboshi

Kingfisher
Orthodox
I read the collections of homilies from St. Symeon the New Theologian about Adam and Eve. He mentioned that Adam and Eve toiled and labored for over 900 years, living off the wild earth (which was now cursed). In those days, the physical and spiritual Paradise was plainly visible to the human eye, and so Adam and Eve would mourn for their old home and lament their condition on the fallen earth. We must assume that this was a period of tremendous repentance for them, covered in sweats, eating the bitter bread of the earth, resisting the cold of the elements, all while gazing at the fiery angel who was standing as guard in front of the gates of Paradise.

Unlike us modern people, who learned the ways of survival from our own parents, Adam and Eve were performing this work for the first time in human history: farming, building houses, creating breads, raising children, surviving in the wilderness. They were like innocent children who had to adapt from a luxurious royal life to the harsh realities of the fallen world. Far from laughing at their misery (as some modern people do), we should realize that they obviously became saints and demonstrated a level of true repentance far beyond our own.
 

Jive Turkey

Woodpecker
Orthodox Catechumen
I read the collections of homilies from St. Symeon the New Theologian about Adam and Eve. He mentioned that Adam and Eve toiled and labored for over 900 years, living off the wild earth (which was now cursed). In those days, the physical and spiritual Paradise was plainly visible to the human eye, and so Adam and Eve would mourn for their old home and lament their condition on the fallen earth. We must assume that this was a period of tremendous repentance for them, covered in sweats, eating the bitter bread of the earth, resisting the cold of the elements, all while gazing at the fiery angel who was standing as guard in front of the gates of Paradise.

Unlike us modern people, who learned the ways of survival from our own parents, Adam and Eve were performing this work for the first time in human history: farming, building houses, creating breads, raising children, surviving in the wilderness. They were like innocent children who had to adapt from a luxurious royal life to the harsh realities of the fallen world. Far from laughing at their misery (as some modern people do), we should realize that they obviously became saints and demonstrated a level of true repentance far beyond our own.
Very interesting take. I quite like this. So glad I came to Orthodoxy. Answered all the questions I had as a protestant and went so much deeper than I could have ever dreamed on my own
 

Liviu

Robin
Orthodox
I have become convinced that literally no one has the right answer to unlock the book of Genesis except the Orthodox Catholic Church.
Yes, you are right but you shouldn`t use `Orthodox Catholic Church` because the neophytes and the inquirers could be confused. Church of Rome used too much that Greek word (`Catholic`) and now practically that`s not to much to do about. I think `Orthodox Universal Church` would cover it better, given the historical circumstances.
 
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