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Can a major religion change? Reading Genesis 1–3 in the twenty-first century1

IJJ Spangenberg

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 28, No 1 (2007), 259-279. doi: 10.4102/ve.v28i1.107

Submitted: 17 September 2007
Published:  17 November 2007


Ever since the fourth century Christian theologians read Genesis 1–3 as a historical account about creation and fall. Augustine (354–430), one of the Latin fathers of the Church, introduced the idea of “original sin” on account of his reading of these chapters. According to him God created a perfect world which collapsed because of the sin of  Adam and Eve. This idea became a fixed doctrine in the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches.  The doctrine holds that every human being, by the very fact of birth, inherits a “tainted” nature in need of regeneration. Since the paradigm shift in Biblical Studies which occurred towards the end of the nineteenth century, the doctrine has come under severe criticism by Old  Testament scholars. In recent years even systematic
theologians are questioning the interpretation of  Augustine and proclaim: “There is no fall in Scripture.” This issue is discussed in detail and an answer is given to the question whether Christians can accept other readings and whether Christianity can change.

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Author affiliations

IJJ Spangenberg, University of South Africa



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