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Original Sin – Death

Irenaeus (A.D. 180)

Now Adam had been conquered, all life having been taken away from him: wherefore, when the foe was conquered in his turn, Adam received new life; and the last enemy, death, is destroyed, which at the first had taken possession of man. Therefore, when man has been liberated, “what is written shall come to pass, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is thy victory? O death where is thy sting?” This could not be said with justice, if that man, over whom death did first obtain dominion, were not set free. For his salvation is death’s destruction. When therefore the Lord quickens man, that is, Adam, death is at the same time destroyed. – IBID, Against Heresies, Book III

In the first place, then, in the garden of God he disputed about God, as if God was not there, for he was ignorant of the greatness of God; and then, in the next place, after he had learned from the woman that God had said that they should die if they tasted the aforesaid tree, opening his mouth, he uttered the third falsehood, “You shall not die by death.” But that God was true, and the serpent a liar, was proved by the result, death having passed upon them who had eaten. For along with the fruit they did also fall under the power of death, because they did eat in disobedience; and disobedience to God entails death. Wherefore, as they became forfeit to death, from that [moment] they were handed over to it. – IBID, Against Heresies, Book V

Wherefore also He drove him out of Paradise, and removed him far from the tree of life, not because He envied him the tree of life, as some venture to assert, but because He pitied him, [and did not desire] that he should continue a sinner for ever, nor that the sin which surrounded him should be immortal, and evil interminable and irremediable. But He set a bound to his [state of] sin, by interposing death, and thus causing sin to cease, putting an end to it by the dissolution of the flesh, which should take place in the earth, so that man, ceasing at length to live to sin, and dying to it, might begin to live to God. – IBID, Against Heresies, Book III

In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin (for in Paradise “they were both naked, and were not ashamed,” inasmuch as they, having been created a short time previously, had no understanding of the procreation of children: for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward), having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race. – IBID, Against Heresies, Book III

For if man, who had been created by God that he might live, after losing life, through being injured by the serpent that had corrupted him, should not any more return to life, but should be utterly [and for ever] abandoned to death, God would [in that case] have been conquered, and the wickedness of the serpent would have prevailed over the will of God. But inasmuch as God is invincible and long-suffering, He did indeed show Himself to be long-suffering in the matter of the correction of man and the probation of all, as I have already observed; and by means of the second man did He bind the strong man, and spoiled his goods, and abolished death, vivifying that man who had been in a state of death. For at the first Adam became a vessel in his (Satan’s) possession, whom he did also hold under his power, that is, by bringing sin on him iniquitously, and under colour of immortality entailing death upon him. For, while promising that they should be as gods, which was in no way possible for him to be, he wrought death in them: wherefore he who had led man captive, was justly captured in his turn by God; but man, who had been led captive, was loosed from the bonds of condemnation. – IBID, Against Heresies, Book III

Theophilus (A.D. 180)

For man had been made a middle nature, neither wholly mortal, nor altogether immortal, but capable of either; so also the place, Paradise, was made in respect of beauty intermediate between earth and heaven. And by the expression, “till it,” no other kind of labor is implied than the observance of God’s command, lest, disobeying, he should destroy himself, as indeed he did destroy himself, by sin. –  Theophilus to Autolycus,  Book II

The tree of knowledge itself was good, and its fruit was good. For it was not the tree, as some think, but the disobedience, which had death in it. – IBID, Theophilus to Autolycus,  Book II

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195)

By which consideration s is solved the question propounded to us by the heretics, Whether Adam was created perfect or imperfect? Well, if imperfect, how could the work of a perfect God — above all, that work being man — be imperfect? And if perfect, how did he transgress the commandments? For they shall hear from us that he was not perfect in his creation, but adapted to the reception of virtue. For it is of great importance in regard to virtue to be made fit for its attainment. And it is intended that we should be saved by ourselves. This, then, is the nature of the soul, to move of itself. Then, as we are rational, and philosophy being rational, we have some affinity with it. Now an aptitude is a movement towards virtue, not virtue itself. All, then, as I said, are naturally constituted for the acquisition of virtue.

But one man applies less, one more, to learning and training. Wherefore also some have been competent to attain to perfect virtue, and others have attained to a kind of it. And some, on the other hand, through negligence, although in other respects of good dispositions, have turned to the opposite. Now much more is that knowledge which excels all branches of culture in greatness and in truth, most difficult to acquire, and is attained with much toil. “But, as seems, they know not the mysteries of God. For God created man for immortality, and made him an image of His own nature;” – Stromata (Miscellanies),  Book VI

Lactantius (240 AD-320 AD)

Therefore the spirit, apart from the flesh, could by no means be a guide to immortality for man, since the flesh hinders the spirit from following God. For it is frail, and liable to sin; but sin is the food and nourishment of death. For this cause, therefore, a mediator came—that is, God in the flesh—that the flesh might be able to follow Him, and that He might rescue man from death, which has dominion over the flesh. Therefore He clothed Himself with flesh, that the desires of the flesh being subdued, He might teach that to sin was not the result of necessity, but of man’s purpose and will.- The Divine Institutes Book IV, Of True Wisdom and Religion

Then He gave to him fixed commands, by the observance of which he might continue immortal; or if he transgressed them, be punished with death. It was enjoined that he should not taste of one tree only which was in the midst of the garden, in which He had placed the knowledge of good and evil. Then the accuser, envying the works of God, applied all his deceits and artifices to beguile the man, that he might deprive him of immortality. And first he enticed the woman by fraud to take the forbidden fruit, and through her instrumentality he also persuaded the man himself to transgress the law of God. Therefore, having obtained the knowledge of good and evil, he began to be ashamed of his nakedness, and hid himself from the face of God, which he was not before accustomed to do. Then God drove out the man from the garden, having passed sentence upon the sinner, that he might seek support for himself by labour.  – IBID, The Divine Institutes Book II,  Of the Origin of Error

See also Original Sin Is Not Total Depravity

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