20 December 2008

Death Examined (Pt 2)

I have always been taught, as many of you probably have, that Adam was created immortal, and would never had died if he had been faithful and not eaten from the tree. I had never really questioned it, rarely ever giving it a second thought, until I started reading and asking questions about things, then found out that many other reputable theologians taught that this was not the case.

One of the first things that hit me was, why was Adam given free access to the tree of life if he was immortal? Why would he need life if he would never die?

Actually, the first thing that got me thinking and looking further, was the way it was written in the Young's Literal translation of the Bible:
and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it — dying thou dost die
In dying you will die? That struck me as odd, and appears to be saying that when you die, you will die. I then flipped over to the Septuagint, which basically says "die by death." So, was there a way to die without being by "death" is one question? The English translations all basically say "shall surely die" yet looking at the original Hebrew there, the words thou shalt surely do not actually exist, and you have just two words, similar Hebrew words, both labeled with the same Strong's code for die; yet the two words differ slightly, so technically would be dying die.

Now remember, this is the same verse that says in the very day that they eat, they shall "die" (by death?), so whatever is being said here, we have every right to assume that it will take place on the very day they transgress. Since we know they did not drop down and physically die after eating, we have every right to understand the death being spoken of as differing from physical death. It does NOT say when they eat they will begin dying, as some stretch it to say; nor does it say they will become mortal and thus be on track to die. It says on the day they eat, they will die.

One thing we do know for certain, on the day they ate, within moments after the act, they were changed for sure. So, who was right, God or the serpent? God said they would die (by death), the serpent said they wouldn't die, but would have their eyes opened. Did they die? Did they have their eyes open? Yes, it seems they did both, which seems to imply that their eyes being opened is related to the death promised. So, was God's promise of "dying" on the day of eating relating to actual physical end of life?

Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period
to begin the search, and found the following regarding death:
Views of death in the Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Jewish texts, and the New Testament vary widely. Death is seen as both natural and a result of sin. The tension appears already in Genesis 2-3. God warns the first humans that if they transgress the commandment they will die (2:17). Nonetheless, their exclusion from the immortality that the tree of life could give them indicates that they were mortal at the time they sinned (3:22-24).
So, we see the connection made as I mentioned before. The tree of life, in some way, would prolong their life, possibly even grant immortality, meaning they did not already possess immortality. It goes on:
The term "death" developed a moral dimension, particularly in the wisdom literature in the concept of the two ways of life and death. To sin was to walk in the way of death, in two senses. One's sins could lead to premature death. The person who lived an unrighteous life, apart from God, was already walking in the realm of death.
This is an important remark, I believe. Someone who is living in sin, living outside of God's righteous commands, later to be referred to as living outside of God's covenant, are said to already be dead. When Adam disobeyed God...when he broke the commandment...when he broke the "covenant"...he entered the realm of "death" and left the realm of life he previously enjoyed. He went from being alive in God, to being dead in the flesh, yet no physical transition occurred. This is commonly referred to in the theological world as spiritual death.

I will stop here, as I am still arranging my thoughts on how to best proceed beyond this point (and I try to keep these posts real short for ease of reading).

If you have not already, go back and read my series called Descended into hell...? which discussed where Christ went for three days after he physical life ended, the place of "death" that all mankind went after life above ground. The connection will be hopefully tied together in future segments of this series on death.