John Töns in his recent article in On Line Opinion “A Perspective on Evil” equated Evil to Original Sin. He has also placed it in Judaism and Islam as well as Christianity. Original Sin is a Christian concept not a Jewish or Islamic one and is primarily associated with Western Christianity.
The concept of Original Sin has its roots in paganism not monotheism. The nature of evil is not connected with Original Sin.
Rabbi Hertz expressed the normative Jewish attitude in his commentary in the Soncino edition of the Pentateuch. Genesis 3: 17 … cursed is the ground for thy sake.
“… for thy sake”. According to Rabbi Hertz “Only as Adam lived was the earth under a curse”. No curse was passed on to his descendents.
Rabbi Hertz interpreted Genesis 3:16 as God saying to Eve “Thee I need not punish. A sufficiency of woe and suffering is thine because of thy physical being.”
The normative Jewish attitude is that we are all born neither good nor evil. Our subsequent acts determine whether we are good or evil. No one can take on another’s sins.
Imam Ahmed Saad of the “Reading Islam” project states:
Islam teaches that all humans are innocent by birth and they become sinful only when they consciously commit a sin. Islam regards the concept of “Original Sin” and the need for atonement by God Himself - via dying on the Cross - as a pure invention of those who came after Jesus Christ, declaring themselves as Christians.
Another important point to bear in mind about the Islamic concept of sin is that one man’s sin cannot be transferred to another; nor can the reward due to a person be transferred either. Every individual is responsible only for his or her actions.
The Islamic position is exactly the same as the Jewish.
As mentioned earlier, the concept of Original Sin has its roots in paganism not monotheism. It stems from Plato’s Theory of Forms. In the beginning was the idea, and the reality is a degenerate form of the idea. The real world is thus imperfect, and the ideal form is perfect.
In the City of God, Augustine reflected how physicality is the natural basis for mankind's propensity for sin. He took the Platonic idea that physical form in the reality of mankind's existence on Earth is imperfect compared to the ideal of the human.
Augustine applied this idea to the biblical story of Adam’s sin and the subsequent expulsion from Eden and concluded that all humanity carries on the stain of that sin.
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.
41 posts so far.