Wrongdoing Before Adam and Romans 5

I think we have solved that challenge solidly in my Dabar paper. Would you like to see it?

The law in Rom 5:13 is the Mosaic law. So I guess I don’t Understand your question.

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So there was no death before the Mosaic law? There was no accountability to sin before the Mosaic law? For that reason, many have interpreted it as Adamic law.

No, it’s the first law ever given --the “Thou shalt not eat of…” That’s what Paul is addressing in Romans 5.

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Yes of course @deuteroKJ. You have a lot to teach us. Set us straight. Also, I’ve emailed the Dabar paper to you. It solves the Romans problem another way, which is ultimately much stronger in my view.

I’m not aware of NT scholars that go that way (though it’s been a bit since I’ve dived into the the Romans commentaries). It seems v.14 settles the context—from adam to Moses not pre-Adam. The general consensus is that “law” in Paul always means MosIc law, except perhaps “principle” a time or two.

Even so, I do think one can envision an analogy with the Adam question. I think Middleton does that in his theologizing.

Deborah and Loren Haarsma do in their book Origins. It is also the central argument by La Preryer in Prae-Adamitae. This seems to be grammatically sensible, and also contextually appropriate given Paul’s context, with the Book of Enoch in full view. The text of Genesis too suggests it with the Serpent, and the differential treatment of Eve and Adam.

I’m willing to look more into it. But I generally don’t get to the Haarsmas for my exegesis :slight_smile:
I Have a decent grasp of the Enochian background—big fan of Mike Heiser.


Well yeah, but I’m pretty sure this appears in Walton’s work too, and others. It is not an uncommon exegesis. It is is in NT though, not OT.

Please take Walton with a huge grain of salt for his overly categoralistic approach, in my view. The “functional” versus “material” dichotomy he uses as a meta-analytical tool is overwielded, to say the least. But he’s good at getting back towards an ancient mindset, even if he errs a bit in some of his conceptions, again, to my view.

If you have a reference from Walton, I’d love to see it. I’ve read all his stuff, but don’t recall if/how he treats Romans 5. He usually avoids getting too detailed with the NT (even having N.T. Wright write the NT chapter in the Lost World of Adam and Eve).

But I’ll try to find time to check on v. 13 in the commentaries. For now, to me the context points to the Mosaic law, and the general use of “law” for Paul means I’d need strong textual evidence to go a different direction (cf. “law” in v. 20 and do a word search of “law” in Romans).

The textual evidence is the double meaning of hamartia, and the claim that no one was held accountable before the law. Adam was held accountable before the Mosaic law, but he was not held accountable before the Adamic law. That seems to clearly indicate that it is not the Mosaic law, right?

That was a “maybe.” I’ll look into it.

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You know, I was focused on the first use of “law” in v. 13 (which I still think is Mosaic), but the second use is more intriguing (“sin is not counted when there is no law”). Given the context in which the transgression of Adam (to a specific command) is paralleled with the type of sinning under the Mosaic Law (i.e., Israel did sin “like the transgression of Adam” [v. 14] in that they transgressed specific commands).

Welp, I’m now interested enough to dig back in. Thanks for that! Even so, even if v. 13 is not about pre-Adam, the overall theological thinking of the passage may still be applicable by way of analogy.

I do think what “accountable” means here is significant. I suspect the scholars will be jumping through various hoops.


This is often the hinge reasoning used to establish why it is Adam’s sin, not Eve’s or the Serpent’s, even though they are doing wrong and participated in his sin. Though they both did wrong, the command was to Adam, not to them. His actions transgressed, and theirs did not. That clarifies that their could have been wrongdoing outside the garden well before Adam, that was not his sin. All we need to do is give a good theological account of why Adam’s sin was some how more consequential (that it lead to death). That turns out to be very easy to do (see Garden theodicy).

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I like that. It’s helpful.

Though remember that death enters the world through Adam’s sin, and Adam is not accountable to Mosaic law. The text really seems to demand that law here is Adamic, with a typological analogue in Mosaic law. With that, it seems to imply what Genesis clearly states. There is wrongdoing in the Garden (and in the world) before Adam falls, but no one was held accountable for it.

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Also, I need to press on this. There is nothing that suggests that Image of God implies fallen. These are separable concepts.

I don’t understand. Nowhere did I imply fallenness to imageness. We are fully image-bearers post-Fall. I’m simply distinguishing biblical “human” from biological Homo sapiens (or Homo sapiens sapiens). It fits the Homo divinus idea.

I suppose read my Dabar paper and we’ll talk. You should have it, right? And this is not a Homo divinus model.

Yes, sir! Thanks.

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I didn’t mean to say that I adopt that model as well, but that it too sees a separation of biological and biblical view of “human.” I look forward to reading the paper. I’ve only recently come to see the pre-Adamite (imagers) view as a live option.