A Defense of Augustine’s Doctrine of Original Sin

by Gideon Lazar

I. Introduction

Original sin is today often seen as one of the dividing doctrines of the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches. According to the popular story, Augustine was influenced by Neoplatonism and a mistranslation of Romans 5:12, causing him to formulate a view of original sin in which infants are personally guilty of the sin of Adam and are condemned to hell unless baptized. There is no free will and only grace can save someone. The Eastern Fathers supposedly held to a totally different view, emphasizing human free will and that only death comes through Adam. This story was most famously articulated by Eastern Orthodox theologians Fr. John Romanides and Fr. John Meyendorff. However, on a closer analysis, the story turns out to be much more complicated. Augustine carefully distinguishes different forms of sin, and the Eastern Fathers held that all mankind was present in Adam.

This paper will analyze the claims of Romanides and Meyendorff, and compare them to the historical, Augustinian, biblical, and patristic evidence. Section II will closely look at what the arguments of Romanides and Meyendorff are. Section III will analyze the history of the Pelagian controversy and look at which side was actually influenced by Neoplatonism and the reception of Pelagianism in the East. Section IV will analyze what Augustine’s views on original sin actually are. Section V will analyze the various possible interpretations of the ambiguous Greek grammar of Romans 5:12. Section VI will look at the Jewish context of Paul to seek further clarification on the correct interpretation of Romans. Section VII will compare Augustine to the other fathers. Section VIII will then conclude by summarizing all the evidence and seeing if Romanides and Meyendorff’s claims hold up to scrutiny.

II. The Theology of Romanides and Meyendorff

Romanides and Meyendorff contrast their understanding of Augustine’s view of original sin with the wider patristic consensus. Romanides lays out his views in The Ancestral Sin. For Romanides, the fall begins not with the fall of Adam, but with the fall of Satan. [1] It is through Satan’s sin that death is introduced into the world. [2] He uses Justin Martyr and Athenagoras’ discussions of the creation of the Nephilim through the sexual relations between demons and human women to prove this, although he understand these passages in these Fathers to instead refer to the “perpetuat[ion of] the fall among men after Adam.” In fact, in one spot, Romanides seems to deny that the fall of man “did not happen automatically with the first-made humans.” He instead says that with Adam entered into “spiritual death.” [3] He claims that it only with the murder of Abel that death entered the world. In fact, he denies that any person dies because of Adam’s sin, but instead insists that everyone dies because of their own sin. [4]

Elsewhere however, Romanides contradicts this model. He claims at one point that man was made “neither mortal nor or immortal” and that they would have matured into immorality but instead cut themselves off from grace. [5] It is not entirely clear how to reconcile the variety of different statements about the origins of sin and death by Romanides. Nowhere does Romanides lay out a clear point by point statement about his own view. Rather, he focuses on critiquing the positions of Augustine.

Augustine, Romanides claims, has no understanding of the role that Satan and death have in the redemption. [6] Instead, Augustine supposedly thinks that “Satan and death were nothing more than instruments in the divine wrath.” Augustine is also wrong because of his belief that man is naturally immortal. [7] Romanides additionally claims that Augustine held that “the entire human race shares in Adam’s guilt” because of “the justice of God.” He claims that Augustine thought the human will of Adam, which was guilty of the sin, was transferred to later descendants, and this is why they are condemned.

Romanides takes Romans 5:12 to be translated as “because of which [death] all have sinned.” [8] Adam’s sin causes separation from God’s grace and death which causes people to fall into sin, but it does not cause others to be guilty of sin. Death causes sin because, according to Irenaeus, it is connected with corruptibility which causes weakness. Romanides takes both “in Adam all have sinned” and “because all have sinned” to both be heretical. He thinks that the meaning is obviously not this, because then the Gnostics would have used it to support the belief in the preexistence of souls. While it is clear how the latter interpretation could be held in a gnostic sense, it is unclear how the former, which is the one Augustine held, could since the Gnostics held the preexistence and fall of all souls, not just that of Adam.

Meyendorff lays out a similar, but somewhat different, account in Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends & Doctrinal Themes. Meyendorff holds that the Eastern fathers say that sin can only be incurred as the result of a personal mind. [9] He claims that this is the result of Maximus’ theology of the will. The “natural will” is always good and oriented towards God. It is only the personal will, the “gnomic will” which can sin. According to Photius, it would be a heresy to talk of a “sin of nature.” Instead, Meyendorff sees only corruptibility and mortality as coming from Adam’s sin, not “inherited guilt.” [10] This also means that infants are not baptized for the remission of sins, but only to give them “a new and immortal life, which their mortal parents are unable to communicate to them.” [11] He does not clarify where infants go if they die though.

Meyendorff contrasts this with Augustine, who he claims believed in inherited guilt even for infants. [12] He thinks the key verse which led to Augustine’s interpretation is Romans 5:12. Augustine’s error supposedly comes his use of the Latin rather than the Greek, which says “in quo omnes peccaverunt (‘in whom all have sinned.’)” The specific issue Meyendorff notes is the rendering of the Greek ἐπί as in. Meyendorff instead offers two translations. His first is “because all men have sinned.” While Meyendorff thinks that this interpretation is possible, and he takes this as a scholarly consensus, [13] this is the very sense which Romanides condemns as Gnostic. Meyendorff does offer a second translation though, which is “because of death, all men have sinned,” the same translation Romanides offers. [14] He has three main arguments for this interpretation. First, if the ᾦ is taken as masculine, it can refer back to the “immediately preceding substantive, thanatos.” Second, it is the interpretation of the Greek Fathers. Third, it makes a connection between Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:22 which connects the death in Adam with the rising again in Christ.

III. The Pelagian Controversy

Before looking at if Romanides or Meyendorff are correct about Augustine, it is important to look at the context in which Augustine developed his teachings on original sin. This context is the Pelagian controversy.

Pelagius was a British lay theologian from the early fifth century. [15] He spent most of his life in Rome, although fled in 410 to avoid its sack. Pelagius argued for a high degree of free will. The writings of him and his students argued that there is no original sin. [16] He even went so far as to argue that everyone has the natural ability to be moral, even apart from God’s grace, although God’s grace could help one be virtuous. Salvation ultimately was up to the person themselves though, not God.

Pelagius’ views were highly influenced by Neoplatonism. [17] The initial popularity of Pelagianism was in part be due to the influence of Origenism, which was itself very Neoplatonic. [18] Plotinus and Porphyry emphasized how one becomes divinized through virtuous action. Everyone is a part of the divine Intellect, and so they have the power within themselves to return to the divine through virtuous action. [19] Pelagius himself adopts this model, although he Christianizes it by removing a literal notion of humans being parts of the divine.

After Pelagius and his student, Caelestius, left Rome for North Africa, they came into contact with Augustine. [20] Augustine felt that what he was hearing from Pelagius and Caelestius about grace was heretical. While Pelagius left Africa and moved to Palestine, Caelestius remained and tried to be ordained a priest. However, a deacon objected to his ordination to the bishop and submitted a list of heresies of which Caelestius was guilty. These heresies were essentially a denial of original sin and the belief that one can live without sin apart from the grace of Christ. Caelestius was called to a council in Carthage in 411 but refused to recant. He moved to Ephesus where he was ordained. His ideas remained popular in North Africa however, causing Augustine to write many treatises against this new error he called Pelagianism.

Pelagius himself continued to write in the East. [21] He was called to a council in Jerusalem in 415 but was found innocent at it. [22] This has caused many scholars to think of the objection to Pelagianism as specifically western. [23] However, there does still seem to have been significant objection to Pelagianism in the East, as Caelestius fled from Ephesus around this time. [24] While the reasons for this are not known for certain, it was likely due to reactions to his Pelagian views. Caelestius ended up moving to Constantinople, but the bishop expelled him from the city for heresy. [25]

Another council was called in Carthage in 419. [26] This council would come to be seen as one of the most definitive condemnations of Pelagianism, as it received papal approval. Some of the canons regarding Pelagianism are as follows:

Canon 109 [27]

That whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body — that is, he would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by natural necessity, let him be anathema.

Canon 110

Likewise it seemed good that whosoever denies that infants newly from their mother’s wombs should be baptized, or says that baptism is for remission of sins, but that they derive from Adam no original sin, which needs to be removed by the laver of regeneration, from whence the conclusion follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins, is to be understood as false and not true, let him be anathema.

For no otherwise can be understood what the Apostle says, “By one man sin has come into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed upon all men in that all have sinned,” [Rom 5:12] than the Catholic Church everywhere diffused has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith even infants, who could have committed as yet no sin themselves, therefore are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that what in them is the result of generation may be cleansed by regeneration.

Canon 112

Also, whoever shall say that the same grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord helps us only in not sinning by revealing to us and opening to our understanding the commandments, so that we may know what to seek, what we ought to avoid, and also that we should love to do so, but that through it we are not helped so that we are able to do what we know we should do, let him be anathema. For when the Apostle says: “Wisdom puffs up, but charity edifies” [1 Cor 8:1] it were truly infamous were we to believe that we have the grace of Christ for that which puffs us up, but have it not for that which edifies, since in each case it is the gift of God, both to know what we ought to do, and to love to do it; so that wisdom cannot puff us up while charity is edifying us. For as of God it is written, “Who teaches man knowledge,” [Ps 94:10] so also it is written, “Love is of God” [1 Jn 4:7].

The main focus of these canons was condemnation of denying original sin and denying that grace is necessary for salvation. The use of Romans 5:12 in canon 110 is important as it shows that this verse was key in the condemnation of Pelagianism. However, just because this verse was quoted at the council does not mean it was the only verse underlying the theology of original sin presented here.

While Pelagius himself died in 418, Pelagianism did not fully die out. [28] Julian of Eclanum, an Italian bishop, continued to promote Pelagianism. This led Augustine to continue to write against Pelagianism. Meanwhile, Caelestius moved to Constantinople again. [29] The new bishop, Nestorius, welcomed Caelestius. However, a few years later, both Caelestius and Nestorius were condemned as heretics at the Council of Ephesus in 431, finally anathematizing Pelagianism at an ecumenical level.

The condemnation of Pelagianism in the East as well as its connection to Nestorianism shows that the East was no more sympathetic to Pelagianism than the West was. Pelagianism was rarely talked about after this in the East, but this is no surprise given that most of the writing on the matter were in Latin and that Pelagianism only continued to be an issue after this in the West. [30]

IV. Augustine’s View of Original Sin

As mentioned above, Augustine was the main theological opponent of Pelagianism. While there were many different doctrines of Pelagianism which Augustine opposed, key among them was original sin. At original sin lay the real core of the dispute. Pelagius held that man from birth had a “natural sanctity” to do good works. [31] This ultimately allowed man to be saved without the need of grace. In order to argue that man needs grace, Augustine had to establish that man needs grace from the moment of birth. This would lead him to write frequently about original sin.

Despite Augustine’s copious writings on the matter, his views are often misunderstood. [32] Although Romanides and Meyendorff make the claim that Augustine held that all humans, even infants, as personally guilty and worthy of damnation for the sin of Adam, a close reading of Augustine reveals far more nuance in his thought.

One difficulty with understanding Augustine’s thoughts on the matter is that they evolved over the course of his life. [33] Later students of Augustine in the centuries to come would even quote his own works from different points in his life against one another. However, there are overarching themes and a general agreement, especially if one reads carefully. As Augustine debated the Pelagians, his theology matured and became more nuanced, but the same core doctrines remained.

Augustine did believe in inherited sin. [34] However, he is very nuanced on what he means by this. He is clear that they do not hold personal sin, since one can only be held personally guilty for a sin that they themselves have committed. [35] In his initial debates, with the Pelagians, Augustine makes this distinction through his terminology. There are three terms that Augustine uses for sin, culpa, reatus, and reus. [36] These terms come from Roman legal language. Culpa is usually translated as “fault.” Reatus and reus are both usually translated as “guilt,” but there is a slight difference in the Latin. [37] Reus refers to the person accused or convicted of a crime, while reatus refers to the condition of being reus.

Due to the similarity of meanings, Augustine initially uses these terms interchangeably. [38] However, when Augustine actually starts debating the Pelagians, he begins to be very careful to nuance his terms. [39] At this point, he uses reus and culpa only for personal sin. Reatus is the only word used for the guilt of original sin. According to Nathaniel McCallum, Augustine uses it as a “liability for punishment… which is remitted in baptism.” [40] Later on though, Augustine is forced to stop this as Julian brings up earlier biblical and patristic witnesses who did not make this careful linguistic distinction. [41] One specific issue was the translation of Romans 3:19 in the old Latin translations, which rendered ὑπόδικος (liable for trial) as reus. [42] As a result, Augustine stops making the same linguistic distinctions. However, he still maintains the same theology, arguing to Julian that “no matter whence born, a man is innocent because there is no personal sin, and he is reum through original sin.” [43]

Augustine specifies what type of guilt this is; it is concupiscence. [44] This is the state of disordered desire which everyone is born with. [45] He repeatedly calls it a “carnal concupiscence,” as it arises from the desires of the flesh. [46] He considers it sin itself in the sense that it urges one to sin. [47]

Meyendorff considers one major difference that Augustine’s views on original sin led him to is that infants are damned. [48] This is an accurate portrayal of Augustine’s views. In fact, Augustine rejects any sort of middle, third place to which infants could go. [49] His reasoning is that since they are not baptized, they are not part of the faithful, and would suffer “the wrath of God” along with all other heathens. However, the later western tradition did not entirely follow Augustine on this point. While there was still a common belief that infants went to hell, the later tradition held that no suffering was inflicted upon unbaptized infants. Augustine himself came to be interpreted this way as well, based on Augustine’s very own distinction between personal guilt and original guilt. [50]

Augustine is uncertain in exactly what sense the sin of Adam is present in infants. Drawing on 1 Corinthians 15:22, he does consider the relationship of Adam to Christ as type to antitype. [51] He also later bolsters this with Romans 5:12, but not initially. As a result of this typology and these scriptural verses, Augustine concludes that “we all were in that one man” and so from birth we are “vitiated by sin, and bound by the chain of death, and justly condemned.” [52] However, Augustine is not entirely sure in what sense humans were in Adam. He says specifically in that same passage that humans were in Adam in a “seminal nature.” He himself is not entirely sure what he means by this though and wavered back and forth between the views that each soul is created fallen, that it is matter which passes sin on, or that the soul itself comes from the souls of the parents, although he found issues with all these stances. [53] Augustine held the doctrine must be believed regardless though on the basis that it is taught in scripture, taught by earlier fathers, and is seen in the sacramental life of the Church.

Romanides misunderstands what Augustine means by all humans being “in Adam.” He takes Augustine to mean that “in some way, Adam’s will was inherited by his descendants.” [54] Romanides cites On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin 2.48 as proof, but this passage says nothing of inheriting will. [55] As already pointed out above, Augustine’s views are much more nuanced. All humans are present in Christ, and one is only personally held guilty of sins committed by one’s own will, but this does not mean that the will is itself inherited, since there is a secondary form of guilt, original guilt, which is not personal.

Romanides here attributed to Augustine what is actually the view of John Calvin. [56] It is Calvin who thinks that the individual sin of Adam is imputed to the sinner, making him personally guilty. For Augustine, it is an ontological participation in Adam that brings original sin. This is because Adam represents human nature, and so he “made only the nature guilty.” [57] Nathaniel McCallum points out that “in this passage that there is a seamless blending of the medical and legal terminologies that Meyendorff wishes to juxtapose.” [58] One major problem with the interpretations of Romanides and Meyendorff is that they read Augustine as though here were a Calvinist, but Augustine’s views must be taken on his own terms.

One other critique of Romanides must be considered here. According to Romanides, Augustine believed that the end of human life was a mere “eudaimonia” like in Aristotle, rather than the Eastern patristic doctrine of θέωσις, or divinization. [59] In actuality, what Augustine is denying is merely Pelagius’ understanding of divinization. [60] He instead views divinization as a radically divine process. It is God alone who gives grace and saves, and so it is God who divinizes man. This is in complete opposition to both Neoplatonism and Pelagianism. Romanides thinks that Augustine misunderstood original sin because he misunderstood its larger context, but this is a misreading of Augustine.

V. Possible Meanings of Romans 5:12

Since it is now clear what Augustine taught about original sin, it is now important to look at if it is novel. Since Romanides and Meyendorff both say that Romans 5:12 was the key verse in this controversy, this is the most important lens through which to view the doctrine. In this verse, Paul says,

 Διὰ τοῦτο ὥσπερ δι’ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου ἡ ἁμαρτία εἰς τὸν κόσμον εἰσῆλθεν καὶ διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος, καὶ οὕτως εἰς πάντας ἀνθρωπους ὁ θάνατος διῆλθεν, ἐφ’ ᾦ πάντες ἥμαρτον.

Therefore as through one man sin came into the world and through sin death, therefore also death spread to all men, in whom all have sinned.

As mentioned above, Augustine takes this verse to mean that in the person of Adam, all have sinned. This is because of the rendering of ἐφ’ ᾦ as in quo in Augustine’s Latin copy of Romans. However, according to Romanides and Meyendorff that this is not what St. Paul meant by the phrase. Fr. Joseph Fitzmyer lists 11 different translations of ἐφ’ ᾦ that have been suggested.  [61] Of these, a few are important to examine: “in whom,” “because of whom,” “because of which [death],” and “with the result that.”

Romanides and Meyendorff take ἐφ’ ᾦ to mean “because of which,” that is “because of death.” This is certainly grammatically possible because ὁ θάνατος is masculine. It is also the most immediate antecedent to the relative. However, it is unclear how death would cause sin since after one has died, they can no longer sin. Romanides and Meyendorff take the death here to only be a tendency towards death, a corruptibility, but Paul nowhere indicates this. In addition, Fitzmyer points out that this interpretation is inconsistent with Paul’s other statements on the matter, such as Romans 5:21 and 6:23, where Paul places death as the result of sin. [62]

Augustine himself makes this point, saying that “all die in the sin; they do not sin in the death; for when sin precedes, death follows — not when death precedes, sin follows. Because sin is the sting of death.” [63] Augustine instead suggests that “Adam” should be understood as what the relative refers to, since it cannot be “sin” since “in Greek, from which the Epistle is translated, sin is expressed in the feminine gender.” He does acknowledge the grammatical possibility of “death” since “death in the Greek language is of the masculine gender,” but rejects it on the hermeneutical grounds explained above. This also shows that Augustine was well aware of the Greek grammatical issues at play here from others, even if his own Greek was not very good.

“Because of whom” is the translation that Meyendorff suggests most scholars follow. [64] He cites Fitzmyer to prove this. [65] However, Meyendorff is actually incorrect about Fitzmyer’s own views. Fitzmyer himself translates ἐφ’ ᾦ as “with the result that.” [66] He takes Paul to be “expressing a result, the sequel to Adam’s baneful influence on humanity by the ratification of his sin in the sins of all individuals.” This would certainly place some responsibility for death onto individuals, closer to the views of Romanides and Meyendorff, but it still would not be enough to undermine the theology of Augustine since it would still put the main responsibility for sin onto Adam. As Fitzmyer points out, “the fate of humanity ultimately rests on what its head, Adam, has done to it.” Indeed, he thinks that Augustine’s theology of original sin is correct, only that this is the wrong verse to appeal to, since “the primary causality for its sinful condition is ascribed to Adam, no matter what meaning is assigned to eph’ hō.” Fitzmyer suggests that v. 15-19 are actually a better proof text of original sin and that the paragraph must be taken as a whole. Fitzmyer’s interpretation does pose its own challenges though. He is forced to add in a two-fold causality for death, but Paul nowhere states this. In order to assert this interpretation, further evidence would be needed that Paul held death to have a two-fold cause. No matter which of these translations is taken though, all of them still allow for an Augustinian understanding of original sin.

The best defense of “because of whom” is given by Fr. Domenico Palmieri. Palmieri argues this on the basis of the usage of ἐφ’ ᾧ in 2 Corinthians 5:4 and Philippians 3:12. [67]

καὶ γὰρ οἱ ὄντες ἐν τᾦ σκήνει στενάζομεν βαρούμενοι, ἐφ’ ᾧ οὐ θέλομεν ἐκδύσασθαι…

For also while being in the body we sigh anxiously, not because of which we wish to be unclothed… (2 Cor 5:4). [68]

…διώκω δὲ εἰ καὶ καταλάβω, ἐφ’ ᾧ καὶ κατελήμφθην ὑπὸ Χριστοῦ.

…but I push forward in order that I might lay hold of it, because I was laid hold of by Christ (Phil 3:12).

These verses certainly lend weight to Palmieri’s interpretation. Fitzmyer and Palmieri also note that this is the general way the preposition is taken by the Greek Fathers. [69] However, “because of whom” is really not that much different from “in whom.” In both cases, it is Adam’s sin which is the reason all men have sin. The only difference is whether or not men are actually in Adam at the fall.

Fitzmyer’s primary objections to “in whom” is that Paul would have used ἐν ᾧ instead, like he does in 1 Corinthians 15:22, and that “ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου” is too far from “ᾦ” for it to be referring to Adam, the “one man.” [70] However, these can be explained. First, mere difference of phrasing does not necessarily show a difference in meaning. Indeed, 1 Corinthians 15:22 was the other main verse appealed to in the Pelagian controversy and Meyendorff himself thinks that Romans 5:12 should be interpreted in light of this verse. [71] Paul’s theology should be understood as a unitary whole, and so it makes sense to interpret Romans 5:12 in light of 1 Corinthians 15:22. Secondly, the fact that “ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου” is far from “ᾦ” is not proof that the latter cannot refer to the former. The fact they are in the same sentence leaves it as a likely possibility. Even if it were a difficulty, it still is not certain proof. If the evidence were to suggest that “ᾦ” refers to “ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου,” then their separation by a mere 19 words would not be enough to suggest otherwise. As shown, any interpretation poses some interpretive challenge, and this one seems very minor compared to the other challenges. It seems then that “in whom” or “because of whom” are the best possible interpretations, and these are close in meaning. An analysis of Paul’s Jewish context may help provide some weight to the former.

VI. Romans 5:12 in its Jewish Context

Augustine’s interpretation of Romans 5:12 is based upon the notion of corporate personhood. Corporate personhood is the idea that one person can represent a whole group of people. It is frequently thought that Augustine’s notion of corporate personhood is Platonic and would therefore be foreign to St. Paul. Meyendorff actually accepts a notion of corporate personhood as it is in St. Gregory of Nyssa, and so he should have no issue with Augustine going in this direction. [72] However, since some may object that Gregory of Nyssa’s interpretation is foreign to the New Testament, it will be worth examining the concept of corporate personhood in second temple Judaism to see if the concept would have actually been foreign to Paul. [73]

In the Old Testament, it is actually very frequent that an ancestor represents his whole people. Israel is frequently referred to with respect to its relation as “the seed (zèra’) of Abraham” (Isa. 41:8; c.f. Josh. 24:2). [74] In fact, the name Israel itself refers to the descent of the people of Israel from Jacob who was renamed Israel by God (Gen. 32:28). The Israelites are very frequently also called the “seed of Jacob” and the “seed of Israel” (Ps. 21:24; Isa. 43:5; 44:3, 45:19, 25, 48:19; 54:3; Jer. 31:36, 33:26, 37; 46:27). Likewise, the various tribes are called by the names of the children of Jacob. The priestly line is referred to as “Aaron and his seed” or the “line of Zadok” (Exo. 28:43; 30:21; Lev. 21:17; 22:3-4; Num. 17:5; Eze. 43:19; 1 Mac. 7:14).

Besides seed, “sons of (bené)” is also frequently used to show corporate personhood through ancestry. Fr. Jean de Fraine suggests that bén is etymologically related to bānāh, to build. It is frequently used to describe building a house. Sometimes, this building is in a metaphorical sense, such as building a metaphorical house, a family (Gen 16:22; 1 Sam 2:35; 1 King. 11:38; Ruth 4:11). De Fraine suggests that the etymological relation is that “each bén is in intimate and structural relationship with a ‘father,’ of whom he is a participation of an individual expression.” The concept of corporate personhood through ancestry is therefore firmly rooted in the Hebrew language itself.

This corporate personhood through ancestry is applied to Adam as well. In fact, ‘ādām and ha’ādām (with the article) more frequently mean “mankind” or “anyone” than “Adam” (Gen 6:6, 7; 8:21; Lev. 1:2; 5:3-4; Ps. 143:3-4; Ecc. 1:3; 6:12; Job 14:1, 10; 28:28; 34:15; Sir. 15:17; Isa. 6:12; Jer. 10:23; Mic. 6:8). [76] “Son of Adam (bèn-‘ādam)” and “sons of Adam (bené-‘ādām)” are also frequently used to refer to a person, group of people, or all of mankind (Num. 23:19; 1 King. 8:39; 2 Chr. 6:30; Ps. 44:2; 57:2; 145:3; Pro. 8:31; Jer. 49:18, 33; Eze. 2:6, 8; 3:25; 4:1, Dan 6:17). [77]

Beyond merely the biblical examples, the concept of humanity as present in Adam at the fall was common in the second temple Jewish context that Paul lived in. [78] The clearest example of this is 4 Esdras. [79] The author of 4 Esdras follows Paul in asserting that death is the result of sin, stating that God “imposed a single precept on him [Adam], but he transgressed it. Immediately [God] condemned him and his descendants to death” (4 Esd. 3:7). The author of 4 Esdras here denies a mere spiritual death brought about by sin. The first sin causes death “immediately.” He clarifies though that it is not merely death that was brought in, but a change in the disposition of men, concupiscence, by saying that “because of his evil heart Adam fall into sin and guilt; the same thing takes place in all of those born of him… The Law was indeed present in the hearts of the people, but the evil seed was also present” (4 Esd. 3:21). Later, the author of 4 Esdras brings in a closer connection between Adam and all of mankind by stating that “when you [Adam] sinned, your fall affected not only you but us, your descendants” (4 Esd. 7:118). From these three passages, it is clear that the author of 4 Esdras held that Adam’s sin brought in death and concupiscence to all mankind, implanting an “evil seed” in people’s hearts.

Another example of corporate personhood in second temple Judaism is The Apocalypse of Baruch. [80] It suggests the possibility of the presence of all of man in Adam at the fall, saying that “when Adam sinned and when the sentence of death was pronounced on all those who would descend from him, the number of those born was fixed as was the place of the sojourn for the living and the dead” (23:4). This suggests the corporate personhood of Adam in two ways. First, when Adam is sentenced, all of mankind is sentenced. This implies they must have been in him in some way. There is also the judicial language reflected in Augustine present here. Secondly, the number who would live and where they would go even after death was predestined here at the fall. This is a very Augustinian idea, although Augustine believed that it is in Christ, the second Adam, that men are predestined. Still, the concept of a predestination in Adam suggests a corporate existence in Adam. Some parts of the Apocalypse of Baruch do seem less Augustinian. For example, it says that “Adam was the first sinner and brought premature death upon all, his descendants have brought upon themselves future punishment or glorification” (54:15). Here the author of the Apocalypse of Baruch explicitly denies that men are guilty of Adam’s sin. However, this need not necessarily be read as entirely contrary to Augustine. After all, Augustine does not deny that people are punished for their own sins. It does show though that while reading Paul as holding corporate personhood is entirely within the Jewish tradition, there is diversity in second temple Judaism as to how this corporate personhood is to be understood. It is also important to note that he takes the death brought in by Adam to be a literal, not merely spiritual death. Indeed, the concept that Adam’s sin merely brought spiritual death is entirely absent from second temple Jewish thought.

Rabbinic literature also reflects the corporate personhood of Adam. For example, in Midrash Coheleth 43, when God tells Moses that he must die, Moses asks “‘Because of what sin?’ And God replied to him, ‘Because of the sin of the first Adam’” (ad. 7:13). [81] Men have to die because Adam committed a sin. This seems to suggest in some sense Midrash Coheleth 43 holds everyone in some sense, even if not personally, guilty of the sin of Adam and so sentenced to death because of it. Other rabbinic literature goes even further with the corporate personhood of Adam. One passage of Yalkut Shemeoni teaches that when God made Adam, He “summed up the entire creation in him.” [82] In this example, Adam is not only the corporate representative of mankind, but all of creation. Paul echoes a similar sentiment (c.f. Rom. 8:22).

The corporate personhood based on ancestry is present in much of the New Testament. Bèn-‘ādam is used in the New Testament frequently as Son of Man (ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) to refer to Jesus. In the Aramaic which Jesus spoke, may have been calling Himself “Son of Adam.” [83] The Gospel of John specifically is full of language of corporate personhood, calling his followers the true “seed of Abraham (σπέρμα Ἀβραάμ)” and “children of Abraham (τέκνα τοῦ Ἀβραάμ)” (John 8:36-41). The author to the Hebrews also refers to the Israelites as “in the loins (ὀσφύϊ)” of Abraham (Heb. 7:10). This last example shows the idea of a person being present in their ancestor existed in early Christianity, regardless the authorship of Hebrews.

VII. Original Sin in the Church Fathers

Despite its great importance in the New Testament, original sin is not a widely discussed topic in the ante-Nicene fathers. [84] Among the apostolic fathers there is essentially no discussion. However, it quickly does become a topic of interest.

One early father to discuss the topic was St. Irenaeus. Irenaeus is one of Romanides’ main sources, being mentioned on 56 pages. [85] Romanides claims that Irenaeus holds that “ᾧ” in Romans 5:12 referred to death, not sin. [86] This would be impossible to know though, given that Irenaeus does not cite the verse a single time in his entire extant corpus. [87]

Romanides also claims that Irenaeus “uses the phrase ‘because of death’ (ἐπί [sic] τῷ θανάτῳ) etiologically.” However, the phrase “ἐπὶ τῷ θανάτῳ” [88] does not appear in any extant work of Irenaeus. Romanides cites one example from the Βιβλιοθήκη Ἑλλήνων Πατέρων καὶ Ἐκκλησιαστικῶν Συγγραφέων. [89] However, the fragment Romanides quotes is not considered authentic. Indeed, it is so certainly inauthentic that the Clavis Patrum Graecorum does not even bother to include it with a note of spuriousness. [90] Even if the quote is authentic though, it does not prove discontinuity with Augustine. Romanides claims that Irenaeus says that “the passions that have naturally befallen us because of death; I refer to grief and cowardice and perplexity, distress and all the rest by which our nature afflicted with death and corruptibility is known.” [91] It is not at all clear here that Irenaeus is intending this as an interpretation of Romans 5:12. It is not under dispute that the fall brought about the passions according to the Fathers.

Elsewhere, Irenaeus is very clear about the order: sin brought about death. He says that Eve “having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the whole human race.” [92] It is through the first sin that death entered the world then. While here Irenaeus names Eve, he elsewhere names Adam as the cause of death. [93] He only names Eve here because his context is a defense of Mary as the second Eve. Irenaeus in fact explicitly teaches the corporate personhood of Adam at the fall. He says that “we had offended [God] in the first Adam, when he did not perform His commandment.” [94] All people have offended God in Adam. This is very close to Augustine’s view that all people are guilty in Adam.

It is worth noting that this more developed view of original sin was not universally held in the second century. Neither St. Theophilus of Antioch nor St. Justin Martyr affirm the transmission of sin to infants. [95] However, both do affirm that Adam’s sin is the cause of death in the world. Indeed, this is one of the central arguments in Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho. These fathers then can still be said to hold the doctrine albeit it not fully. Their view was certainly not universal though, as shown by the example of Irenaeus. Justin and Theophilus ought not to be read in isolation, but within the larger context of the consensus patrum.

In the next century, original sin can be seen quite clearly in Origen. [96] In reflecting upon numerous scriptural verses, particularly the purification of women after birth, Origen notes that “only sinners rejoice over their birthday” while the saints “curse that day.” [97] This is because “every soul which is born is polluted with the filth ‘of iniquity and sin.’ [Psalm 51:5]” [98] As additional evidence, Origen points out that the Church baptizes infants, and “if there were nothing in infants that ought to pertain to forgiveness and indulgence, then the grace of baptism would appear superfluous.” In a homily upon this same Levitical purification ritual in Luke, Origen develops a distinction between “sordes” (stain) and “peccatum” (sin). [99] Babies are born with sordes but not peccatum. This is very similar to in meaning to Augustine’s later distinction between reatus and reus. [100] Infants are born with some sort of stain, but it is distinct from personal sins. Palmieri also points out that when Origen uses Romans 5:12, he takes “ἐφ’ ᾧ to refer to Adam.” [101] Although the Church came to reject Origen’s belief in the preexistence of souls, this is not essential to Origen’s views on original sin since the preexistence of souls was just Origen’s method of explaining how all of humanity was present in Adam. [102] This particular metaphysical explanation is not necessary for the doctrine expressed here.

Contemporary with Origen, St. Cyprian also uses baptism to prove the need of infants to receive baptism for the remission of original sin. [103] Cyprian says that a newborn “has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of the ancient death at its earliest birth.” [104] In infant baptism then is “remitted, not his own sins, but the sins of another.” This is nearly identical to what Augustine would write in the same region a century and a half later. As early as the third century then, the transmission of sin to newborns was nearly universally held.

Tertullian also witnesses to original sin in the third century, especially the corporate personhood of Christ. Tertullian distinguishes between the soul as initially “in Adam until it is born again in Christ.” [105] This shows Tertullian’s view of the corporate personhood of Adam. Tertullian’s reasoning for this was that the “soul (which may be compared with the nascent sprout of a tree) has been derived from Adam as its root.” [106] Although the Church came to depart from Tertullian’s traducianism, he is an important witness to the corporate personhood of Adam in the early Church. Like Origen, Tertullian’s particular metaphysical explanation is not necessary to uphold the doctrine he expresses here.

The Eastern Fathers from Augustine’s own time of the fourth and fifth centuries are also in agreement with Augustine. [107] St. Gregory of Nyssa’s writings on original sin are strikingly close to Augustine. Speaking of the exile from paradise, he says that all men “in our first ancestor were thus ejected.” [108] The corporate personhood of Adam is central to Gregory’s theology. He explains this corporate personhood by saying that through Adam’s fall “death had been mingled with human nature.” [109] This finally allows for an explanation of the corporate personhood of Adam without leading into the heresies of the preexistence of souls or traducianism. Adam represents all of human nature. The fall causes one to have a fallen nature because they are in the nature that Adam has. Christ is the second Adam and offers a redeemed human nature to all men.

St. Basil and St. Gregory Nazianzen also speaks of the corporate personhood of Adam in similar language. Basil talks of the whole human race being present in Adam before the fall, saying that “we were once glorious when we lived in Paradise.” [110] Likewise, Gregory speaks about how all men have “wholly sinned and was condemned through the disobedience of the first-formed.” [111] The Cappadocians all hold the same theology that it is through human nature that all of humanity was present at the fall, to the point that they even feel free to speak of themselves as being there in the first person.

While the Cappadocians do not go as far as Augustine to declare that infants are damned, they do come close. Gregory Nazianzen for example, when speaking of infant baptism, says,

Others are not in a position to receive it, perhaps on account of infancy, or some perfectly involuntary circumstance through which they are prevented from receiving it, even if they wish. As then in the former case we found much difference, so too in this. They who altogether despise it are worse than they who neglect it through greed or carelessness. These are worse than they who have lost the Gift through ignorance or tyranny, for tyranny is nothing but an involuntary error. And I think that the first will have to suffer punishment, as for all their sins, so for their contempt of baptism; and that the second will also have to suffer, but less, because it was not so much through wickedness as through folly that they wrought their failure; and that the third will be neither glorified nor punished by the righteous Judge, as unsealed and yet not wicked, but persons who have suffered rather than done wrong. For not every one who is not bad enough to be punished is good enough to be honoured; just as not every one who is not good enough to be honoured is bad enough to be punished. [112]

This essentially posits the doctrine of limbo before it had ever been suggested in the West. There is a third-place unbaptized infants must go because they have a sinful nature from Adam, but they have no personal sin. Indeed, on this point Gregory Nazianzen is actually closer to the greater Western tradition than even Augustine.

In commenting specifically upon Romans 5:12, St. John Chrysostom is clear that ἐφ’ ᾧ refers to Adam, not death. “How then did death come in and prevail? ‘Through the sin of one.’ But what means, ‘ἐφ’ ᾦ πάντες ἥμαρτον?’ This; he having once fallen, even they that had not eaten of the tree did from him, all of them, become mortal.” [113] All men, not just Adam, die because of the sin of Adam. Nowhere in this passage does Chrysostom even suggest that death is the cause of sin as the meaning of Romans 5:12. It is unclear whether Chrysostom takes it ἐφ here as “in” or “because.” [114] This shows the closeness of these two ideas in the Greek Fathers. They did not try to separate these out into two concepts, but rather took it as one general idea of “ἐπί” for which there is no perfect English or Latin equivalent.

St. Cyril of Alexandria, who presided over the Council of Ephesus in which Pelagianism was condemned, also discusses the corporate personhood of Adam. While he does not interpret Romans 5:12 in this way, although he does hold that the relative refers to Adam, in many other spots Cyril does speak of mankind as in Adam. [115] At one point, Cyril says that God “struck us because of the transgression in Adam by saying, ‘Earth you are, and to earth you will return [Gen 3:19].’” [116] All men receive a punishment, being stricken unto death, because of Adam. A punishment implies a guilt to merit receiving that punishment. Cyril follows the Cappadocians in the cause of corporate personhood, saying that “human nature was condemned in Adam.” [117] Cyril denies a mere mimicry of Adam, clarifying that one does not die “because they sinned along with Adam, because they did not then exist, but because they had the same nature as Adam, which fell under the law of sin.” [118] Meyendorff cites Cyril as his primary example against Augustine. [119] However, it is clear that Cyril is actually entirely in line with Augustine, not Meyendorff, in his account of sin.

Meyendorff’s other main father that he uses against Augustine is St. Maximus the Confessor. [120] This is already a problematic line of argument because Maximus is two centuries after Augustine, so if there was discontinuity, it would be Maximus who is the innovator. However, there is once again continuity. While there is no direct proof that Maximus read Augustine, he spent much of his life in Carthage so Augustinian influence should not be surprising. [121] One of the key features that Meyendorff mentions is Maximus’ view of the will. However, he holds the same view of the will as Augustine. [122] There is a natural will that reaches out towards the natural end of human nature, and another will which reaches out towards fallen desire. Maximus uses this other desire to develop the concept of the deliberative (γνωμικόν) will, while Augustine just calls this second desire concupiscence and leaves it at that. The two concepts are essentially the same in purpose. Meyendorff’s insistence on calling it the “gnomic will” obscures its essential meaning, that it is a deliberation between choices. Even if one were to argue that Augustine does not develop his view far enough, this accusation cannot be placed on the larger western tradition as the scholastics actually adopted the distinction of the natural and deliberative wills from Maximus by way of St. John of Damascus. [123]

Maximus does not shy away from judicial language to speak of original sin. He calls death following from original sin a “natural debt.” [124] He likewise speaks of how the whole of human nature is fallen in Adam, through whose “transgression sin gave subsistence to pleasure, and through pleasure affixed itself to the very foundations of our nature, condemning the whole of our nature to death.” [125] He also speaks of this “just condemnation” as occurring “in Adam,” which he contrasts with the redemption “in Christ.” [126] The corporate personhood of Adam through human nature and the judicial language for original sin are both here. In many ways then, Maximus is actually the synthesis of the Eastern and Western traditions on original sin.

VIII. Conclusion

Taking together all this evidence, there does appear to be a unified theology of original sin in the Bible and the Fathers. All mankind was present in Adam at the fall through human nature. As a result, all infants are born with original guilt, although not personal guilt, which must be remitted by baptism if they are to enter Heaven. While it is a little unclear if “ἐφ’” in Romans 5:12 should be taken as “in” or “because,” “ᾧ” certainly refers to Adam. Either interpretation of “ἐφ’” will lead to the same theology, and it is unclear if in Greek such a distinction actually exists, and this is not just a problem that comes about only in translation. What is important is the causal force of Adam’s sin leading to death.

Almost none of Romanides’ and Meyendorff’s claims held up to scrutiny, which is not surprising given that barely any of Augustine’s actual writings are cited by Romanides or Meyendorff. Romanides makes two brief citations to De Gratia Christi de Peccato Originali in one paragraph, but never cites him anywhere else. [127] Meyendorff briefly mentions Augustine’s De Trinitate, but this work is not on original sin, and does not cite a single word of the actual work, so it does not appear he has actually read it. [128]

The claims of Romanides and Meyendorff do very closely mirror the claims of the Pelagians though. Both deny the force of original sin and the presence of humanity in Adam. Indeed, neither of them say anything negative about Pelagianism in their works. This leads one to believe that they were crypto-Pelagians. In their attempt to not be Latin, they have fallen into an error condemned by the East as well.

This shows the need to change the way apologetics and ecumenism are done. Romanides and Meyendorff came to the fathers with the preconceived notion that what the West believes must be wrong. This causes them to twist what is taught by both the East and West. Instead, one ought to be a serious scholar first and do apologetics or ecumenism only subordinated to it. There is nothing wrong with arguing one is correct or trying to reconcile the schism, but both of these must be done in truth because one ought to seek truth above all else. Indeed, in doing serious scholarship, it has been shown that the East and West actually are in agreement on original sin. When one places honesty and scholarship first, what follows can only be good if one is truly seeking the good and true.


[1] Ioannes Romanides, The Ancestral Sin: A Comparative Study of the Sin of Our Ancestors Adam and Eve According to the Paradigms and Doctrines of the First- and Second-Century Church and the Augustinian Formulation of Original Sin, trans. George S. Gabriel, (Ridgewood: Zephyr Publishing, 2008), 69-70.
[2] Romanides, 79.
[3] Romanides, 80.
[4] Romanides, 164-68.
[5] Romanides, 158-61.
[6] Romanides, 70.
[7] Romanides, 155-56.
[8] Romanides, 166.
[9] John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, (New York: Fordham University Press, 1987), 143.
[10] Meyendorff, 145.
[11] Meyendorff, 145-46.
[12] Meyendorff, 144-45.
[13] Meyendorff in particular cites Joseph Fitzgerald. Meyendorff, 149. Fitzgerald’s own analysis will be taken up in section V.
[14] Meyendorff, 144.
[15] Lindsey Anne Scholl, “The Pelagian Controversy: A Heresy in its Intellectual Context,” PhD diss., (University of California, Santa Barbara, 2011), 1-2.
[16] Scholl, 3.
[17] Scholl, 24-57.
[18] Scholl, 99-105.
[19] Scholl, 24-57.
[20] Joseph Pohle, “Pelagius and Pelagianism,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 11., (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911), rev. and ed. for New Advent by Kevin Knight, https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11604a.htm.
[21] Pohle.
[22] Scholl, 109.
[23] Scholl, 98-107.
[24] Scholl, 113-14.
[25] Scholl, 110.
[26] Pohle.
[27] “Council of Carthage (A.D. 419),” in The Seven Ecumenical Councils. trans. Henry Percival, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1900), 109-112.
[28] Pohle.
[29] Scholl, 112.
[30] Pohle.
[31] Pelagius, Ad Demetriadem, 4.2, quoted in Scholl, 36.
[32] Jesse Couenhoven, “St. Augustine’s Doctrine of Original Sin,” Augustinian Studies 36, no. 2 (2005): 359.
[33] Nathaniel McCallum, “Inherited Guilt in Saints Augustine and Cyril,” 2016, https://www.academia.edu/29213788/Inherited_Guilt_in_Saints_Augustine_and_Cyril, 3-9.
[34] Couenhoven, 370.
[35] Couenhoven, 362; McCallum, 3-9.
[36] McCallum, 4.
[37] McCallum, 4-5.
[38] McCallum, 4-5.
[39] McCallum, 6-7.
[40] McCallum, 7.
[41] McCallum, 8-9.
[42] The Vulgate instead renders it as subditus. McCallum, 8.
[43] Augustine, Against Julian, trans. Matthew A. Schumacher, (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2013), 153.
[44] Couenhoven, 372-81.
[45] Couenhoven, 371.
[46] c.f. Couenhoven, 371-76.
[48] Couenhoven, 376-77. Couenhoven himself thinks Augustine at sometimes held it as personal sin itself but says that he thinks Augustine’s overall view is “to hold that carnal concupiscence, even if it is not acted on, or out of, is itself sin, and [Couenhoven] take[s] this to be [Augustine’s] settled position.”
[49] Meyendorff, 145.
[50] Augustine, A Treatise on the Merit and Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, vol. 5. trans. Peter Holmes and Robert Ernest Wallis, rev. Benjamin B. Warfield, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887), 1.28.
[51] c.f. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologiae, 2nd and rev. ed., trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, online ed. ed. Kevin Knight, 2017, https://www.newadvent.org/summa/, Supp.69.6.reply.2.
[52] Couenhoven, 362-63.
[53] Augustine, The City of God, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, vol. 2, trans. Marcus Dods. ed. Philip Schaff, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887), 13.14.
[54] Couenhoven, 383-86.
[55] Romanides, 23.
[56] “These words, however, of the man of God are contradicted by Pelagius, notwithstanding all his commendation of his author, when he himself declares that ‘we are procreated, as without virtue, so without vice.’ What remains, then, but that Pelagius should condemn and renounce this error of his; or else be sorry that he has quoted Ambrose in the way he has? Inasmuch, however, as the blessed Ambrose, catholic bishop as he is, has expressed himself in the above-quoted passages in accordance with the catholic faith, it follows that Pelagius, along with his disciple Cœlestius, was justly condemned by the authority of the catholic Church for having turned aside from the true way of faith, since he repented not for having bestowed commendation on Ambrose, and for having at the same time entertained opinions in opposition to him. I know full well with what insatiable avidity you read whatever is written for edification and in confirmation of the faith; but yet, notwithstanding its utility as contributing to such an end, I must at last bring this treatise to a conclusion.” Augustine, A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, vol. 5, trans. Peter Holmes and Robert Ernest Wallis, rev. Benjamin B. Warfield, ed. Philip Schaff, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.), 2.48.
[57] Couenhoven, 370-71.
[58] Augustine, Against Julian, 117.
[59] McCallum, 8; c.f. Meyendorff, 146.
[60] Romanides, 103-11.
[61] Scholl, 24-57.
[62] Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, (New York: Doubleday, 1993), 413-17.
[63] Fitzmyer, 414.
[64] Augustine, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, vol. 5, trans. Peter Holmes and Robert Ernest Wallis, rev. Benjamin B. Warfield, ed. Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887), 4.7.
[65] Meyendorff, 144.
[66] Meyendorff, 149-50.
[67] Fitzmyer, 416-17.
[68] Dominicus Palmieri, Tractatus De Peccato Originali et De Immaculato Beatae Virginis Deiparae Conceptu, (Romae: Typ. Iuvenum Opificum A S. Iosepho, 1904), 18-19.
[69] Palmieri writes in Latin, so the English translations here are my own.
[70] Fitzmyer, 414; Palmieri, 22-26.
[71] Fitzmyer, 414.
[72] Couenhoven, 662-363; McCallum, 5; Meyendorff, 143-44.
[73] Meyendorff, 143-44.
[74] For a fuller study of corporate personhood in the Old Testament, see Jean de Fraine, Adam and the Family of Man, trans. Daniel Raible, (Staten Island: Alba House, 1965).
[75] de Fraine, 126-27. The possible biblical examples are far too many to list, so the lists here is simply the ones provided by de Fraine.
[76] de Fraine, 129-34.
[77] de Fraine, 134-39. This is again only a small fraction of the possible examples.
[78] de Fraine, 140-42.
[79] de Fraine, 146-49.
[80] Also commonly known as 2 Esdras, such as in the KJV.
[81] de Fraine, 146-47
[82] de Fraine, 148.
[83] de Fraine, 149.
[84] While the most famous use of “Son of man” in the Hebrew Bible does not use bèn-‘ādam (Dan 7:13), most other instances of the phrase do, such as Dan 8:17 and most uses of it in Ezekiel.
[84] David Weaver, “From Paul to Augustine: Romans 5:12 in Early Christian Exegesism,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 27, no. 3 (1983): 189.
[85] Romanides, 186.
[86] Romanides, 167.
[87] According to the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae.
[88] I have corrected the accent on “ἐπί” to the grave here.
[89] Romanides, 167.
[90] Mauritii Geerard, Clavis Patrum Graecorum: Patres Antenicaeni, vol. 1, (Turnhout: Brepols. 1983), 1315.
[91] Irenaeus, Fragment 52b, ΒΕΠΕΣ, vol. 5, (Athens: Αποστολική Διακονία, 1955), 186, quoted in Romanides 167.
[92] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, trans. Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.), 3.22.4.
[93] c.f. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.23.
[94] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.16.3.
[95] Weaver, 189-91.
[96] Adam G. Cooper, “Sex and the Transmission of Sin: Patristics Exegesis of Psalm 50:5 (LXX),” in Meditations of the Heart: The Psalms in Early Christian Thought and Practice, ed. Andreas Andreopoulos, Augustine Casiday, and Carol Harrison, (Turnhout: Brepolis, 2011), 83-85.
[97] Origen, Homilies on Leviticus, 1-16, trans. Gary Wayne Barkley, (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 200), 8.3.2.
[98] Origen, Homilies on Leviticus, 8.3.5.
[99] Origen, Homilies on Luke, trans. Joseph T. Lienhard, (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2009), 14.3. The homily is unfortunately only extant in Latin, but it was originally written in Greek. Lienhard, xxi.
[100] Cooper, 84.
[101] Palmieri, 22; c.f. Origen, Homilies on Numbers, trans. Thomas P. Scheck, ed. Christopher A. Hall, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2009), Numbers 22.3.3.
[102] Cooper, 84-85.
[103] Cooper, 85-86.
[104] Cyprian, The Epistles of Cyprian, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, trans. Robert Ernest Wallis, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886), 58.5.
[105] Tertullian, A Treatise on the Soul in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, trans. Peter Holmes, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886), 40.
[106] Tertullian, 19.
[107] For a more detailed account of Gregory of Nyssa’s theology of original sin, see Ernest V. McClear, “The Fall of Man and Original Sin in the Theology of Gregory of Nyssa,” Theological Studies 9, no. 2 (1948): 175-212.
[108] Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. 5, trans. William Moore and Henry Austin Wilson, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893), 12.
[109] Gregory of Nyssa, Homilies on the Song of Songs, trans. Richard A. Noris Jr., ed. Brian E. Daley and John T. Fitzgerald, (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2012), 12.351.
[110] Basil, Commentary on the Psalms, 114.5, quoted in Cooper, 89.
[111] Gregory Nazianzen, Select Orations, trans. Martha Vinson, (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2003), 22.13.
[112] Gregory Nazianzen, Select Orations of Saint Gregory Nazianzen, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. 7., trans. Charles Gordon Browne and James Edward Swallow, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894), 40.23.
[113] John Chrysostom, The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, vol. 11, trans J. B. Morris and W. H. Simcox, rev. George B. Stevens, ed. Philip Schaff, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1889), 10.1.
[114] Palmieri, 24-26.
[115] McCallum, 10-12.
[116] Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, vol. 1, trans. David Maxwell, ed. Joel C. Elowsky, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2013), 204.
[117] Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, 694.
[118] Cyril, Explanation of the Letter to the Romans, PG 74 cols. 788–89, quoted in Gerald Bray, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Romans, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2005).
[119] Meyendorff, 145.
[120] Meyendorff, 143-45.
[121] Cooper, 89; Paul M. Blowers, Maximus the Confessor: Jesus Christ and the Transfiguration of the World, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 28-31.
[122] von Balthasar, Hans Urs, Cosmic Liturgy: The Universe According to Maximus the Confessor, trans. Brian E. Daley, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003), 182-84.
[123] Tobias Hoffman, Free Will and the Rebel Angels in Medieval Philosophy, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021), 23.
[124] Maximus the Confessor, On Difficulties in Sacred Scripture in Response to Thalassios, trans. Maximos Constas, (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2018), 61.4.
[125] Maximus, 61.9.
[126] Maximus, 61.10.
[127] Romanides, 23.
[128] Meyendorff, 92, 190.


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