Abstract

The link between sin and death is rooted in the first stories of Genesis and developed particularly by Paul in the NT. While Genesis sometimes presents death as sin’s consequence, at other times the immoral are preserved and the righteous die prematurely. The presence of two trees is used to explain a cause-effect link between obedience and death, but the connection is surprisingly uncertain: the couple does not die on the day they eat from the forbidden tree as forewarned. I use both a narrative and theological approach to understand better death within God’s judicial framework and liberate it from anachronistic attempts to impose Paul’s direct link between sin and death on the more nuanced view presented in Gen 2–3. By underscoring the ambiguity in Genesis, we are better able to identify its unique theological purpose that has a bearing on other Genesis themes.

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