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…Continued from Part 6

The Dogma of Redemption (Part 7 of 7)

by St. Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky


Metropolitan AnthonySome reader may respond, “If you please, I am ready to agree that even if the shedding of blood had not been among Christ’s physical sufferings, but only blows and physical death, if He had been put to death not by crucifixion, but by some other means just as painful and shameful, our redemption would still have been effected. But could it really have been effected without the physical sufferings and death of the Redeemer? Could it have been effected, let us say, only by means of those spiritual griefs and torments which He began to endure from the beginning of His earthly life, and especially in Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal? Moreover, you give too little significance to Adam’s sin, but more to the sins—or rather, to the sinfulness — of each person; but was it not about Adam that the Apostle said, `in him all have sinned’?”

The questions are reasonable, and so one must give them an appropriate answer. First of all, let us examine the words of the Apostle Paul to the Romans (5:12): “Wherefore, as through one man sin entered the world, and by sin, death; and so death came upon all men in that [because] all men have sinned.” If one were to understand the words “in that” as meaning “in which,” then one cannot tell what this ” which” refers to. To the “one man”? But this is far too remote. To the world? Possible. To death? This is also possible, since in Greek “death” ( θάνατος) is of the masculine gender.35 Let us ponder the Russian translation and we at once see the treacherous “italics” which, as we said before, is the primary basis for the Latin and Lutheran conjectures: “because in him all sinned.” If this translation were correct, then it would be the main, indeed the only, basis for the juridical theory and for attributing innate vengeance to God. “As from a polluted spring,” we read in our textbook, “corrupted water flows,” etc. But, if you please, a spring and water are one thing, whereas living, morally responsible human beings are something else. It is not by our own will that we are descendants of Adam, so why should we bear the guilt for his disobedience? Indeed, we must struggle greatly in order to appropriate Christ’s redemption: can it be that the condemnation of each man because of Adam befell men despite each one’s own guilt? After all, the apostle says clearly that “the gift was poured out more abundantly than the condemnation” (cp Rm.5:15), but the juridical interpretation renders the result exactly the opposite. Finally, let us consider the original Greek text. The words “in that” are used to translate the Greek which means “because,” or “since” (Latin: tamen, quod). This same expression is encountered in Philippians with the same meaning: “because you did take thought” (4:10), and the Russian translation is inaccurate here also. The synonymous Greek expression has the identical meaning of “because” (see Mt.25:40, 45; Rm.11:13). Therefore, the correct translation of these words of the Apostle Paul is: “and so death passed upon all men, because all have sinned” (and not just Adam himself). This is the interpretation given to these words by Blessed Theodoret. And so Adam was not so much the cause of our sinfulness as he was the first to sin, and even if we were not his children, we would still sin all the same. One should consider, therefore, that we are all sinners, even though we direct our will correctly, not because we are descendants of Adam, but because the All-knowing God gives us life in the human condition (rather than as angels, for example), and He foresaw that the will of each of us would be like that of Adam and Eve. This will is not evil by nature, but disobedient and prideful, and consequently it needs a school to correct it. This is what our earthly life in the body is, for it constantly humbles our stubbornness. In this matter this school attains success in almost all its pupils who are permitted to complete their full course, that is, live a long life, though some of God’s elect attain this wisdom at an early age — that is, those whom Providence leads to the Heavenly Father or to His “co-workers”.

In general it must be said that the translation of these verses from the Epistle to the Romans (as well as many other passages in the New Testament) into Russian is completely wrong. The Apostle Paul distinguishes the event of Adam’s fall as the means — the way through which sin appeared in the world — from those consequences of it, even though Adam’s sin was the cause. Thus quite logically the preposition διά (“through”) is used in the first case; but where Adam’s sin is the cause of the corruption of human nature and of mortality, the idea of the instrumental case is used as an ablativus causae. There is no instrumental case in the Greek language, but it is replaced by the dative, e.g., “I was struck by a stone,” in which the dative case would be used in Greek.

The Russian text, however, quite incorrectly translates every one of the διά phrases in the instrumental case. In this instance (Rm.5:12) the Russian version reads, “Thus, by one man sin entered into the world…,” while in the Greek original it says, “as through one ( δι’ ὲνὸς) man sin entered into the world.” Adam is not actively responsible for the indwelling of sin in the whole world, but rather was a sort of door which opened the way for sin.36

ancestralSimilarly, further on (5:16) in Russian it says, “And it is a gift, not a judgment, for the one who has sinned, for the judgment for one transgression is to condemnation; whereas the gift of grace is for justification from many transgressions. For, if by one man’s offence death reigned….” etc. Here in the Synodal text italics are used, a sign that these words were thought up by the commentators; but the translation is wrong here. It should more accurately read: “but the gift followed many transgressions and brought righteousness. For if through the transgression of the one man, death reigned….”37 Further on the [Russian] translation is correct, for, although sin did not enter into the world by means of Adam’s deed alone, but only through it, still this deed was the cause of each man’s death; sin reigns not only through the one who sinned, but it actually was caused by his sin: του ενος παραπτωματι not δια παραπτωματος. Here we do not have merely the modus or means by which death was spread, but rather its cause (ablativus causae) is directly indicated. Therefore, the dative case, performing the function of the instrumental, is used. Further on, in verse 18, he speaks of condemnation, and again we find an expression with διά, not an ablativus causae: δι ενος παραπτοματος εις παντας ανϑπωους εις κατακριμα. The same distinction is continued in verses 19 and 20. Thus men are not condemned for Adam’s sin (cp Jer.31:29 and Ezek.18:2), but for their own sinfulness, the consequence of which (death) began with Adam δι ενος; but all have sinned, not in Adam, not ὲν ω (“in whom”), but εφ ω (“because”).

…concluded here 

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