"Adam Citings before the Intrusion of Satan: Recontextualizing Paul’s Theology of Sin and Death"

This article (available free here), by Henry Kelly is of relevance to discussions here.

“The common notion that Adam was punished by death for his sin is verified neither in Genesis 2–3 itself (and the surrounding chapters) nor in any pre-Pauline texts. Paul’s focus on Adam’s sin was out of the ordinary, and his conclusion that he was punished by some kind of death does not resemble interpretations in any other contemporary source, including Philo. The equally common idea that the Devil was assumed to participate in causing Adam’s sin does not occur in early texts (for instance, Wisdom or the books of the New Testament), being first found in Justin Martyr. Therefore, assessments of biblical theology that depend on these concepts should be emended.”

Kelly is a leading scholar on the subject of satan and demons, but in this case it’s his focus on Adam which is of particular relevance.

So they want to retcon Paul’s theology on Adam? Alter the biblical text? Why not just come out and state that the Bible has it wrong?

No. Please read the article before commenting.

I bet that’s fun for his date at parties. “Hey, have you met Henry? He’s a Satan scholar.”

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Paul was very explicit that Adam was a real individual. It was clear as Day. To say that any theology based on this interpretation needs to be emended is in my eyes stating that the Bible is incorrect.

The article does not argue Adam was not a real individual. I suspect you have not read the article.

If Philo did not write any part of the Bible then the author is stating that the bible is wrong by favouring Philo over Paul.

No he is not saying that. Please actually read the article; the author does not favor Philo’s interpretation over Paul’s. You are not being intellectually honest.

Just using the quote you provided.

You mean you’re not reading the article and you’re making false assumptions based on what you think the author is saying. You’ve done that three times in this thread now, without reading the article. That is not intellectually honest.

“Reassessment of early sources calls in turn for a new survey
of the development of the Adam story, one that shows how
sporadic and varied interest in the first parents was. Specifically,
it will reveal that Paul was out of the ordinary in his
focus on Adam, and that his interpretation of Adam’s sin and
its effect (hereditary “death” of some sort) was not shared by
other writers of his time. Therefore any understanding of his
theology of sin and death as based on contemporary ideas
must be modified.”

I maintain my objection. If Paul is being accused of being ‘out of the ordinary’ and therefore his position is in need of rejecting, what use is the rest of the bible? Why not just come out and say it is nonsense?

The death in Genesis is referring to spiritual death. Physical death was already occurring.
When Jesus set right what Adam ruined, people still died, but they were given spiritual life again through faith.

This individual seems rather misguided. Preferring Philo to Paul. And the seeming focus on decriminalizing Satan and the serpent is ringing alarm bells. But I suppose everyone wants to make a name for themselves. This person is a ‘Satan and Demon expert’ hmm? What more can be known about these things than what is written in the Bible? I would suggest nothing that is helpful.

If the Bible is truly ‘God-breathed’ then it is to be our main source. If what is written in it is not actually the case, then it is not ‘God-breathed’ and should be rejected.

The author is not saying that Paul’s position is in need of rejecting. You have clearly still not read the article.

This is further evidence that you have not read the article. The author himself points out Paul identified Adam as mortal before the fall, and says that physical death was already occurring. The author also points out that Paul does not believe the death in Genesis is referring to physical death. You are ironically agreeing with the author and with what the author says about Paul, while imagining you are disagreeing.

The author is not preferring Philo to Paul.

The author is not decriminalizing anything.

That is a stupid statement. Kelly has been a leading scholar on Second Temple Period and early Christian views on satanology and demonology, for decades. He is very obviously not trying to make a name for himself.

No, I said “Kelly is a leading scholar on the subject of satan and demons”. He studies Second Temple Period and early Christian views on satanology and demonology, and is a leading scholar in these fields.

This is another example of your intellectual dishonesty, since you clearly do not believe this. What is under examination here is Second Temple Period and early Christian views on satanology and demonology. By necessity, this requires study not only of those views as they appear in the Bible, but also as they appear in other Second Temple Period and early Christian literature.

What is this author trying to do exactly? Find something that isn’t written in the Bible? I can come to the conclusion this author has by simply reading the Bible… So what is the point of it?

From what I have read (I skimmed through it) This Kelly is still comparing a Biblical book to extra-biblical philosophers. And preferring to agree with the philosophers.

What is worse is he uses the book of Enoch as a source. That book is confirmed to be bogus. Angels mating with Humans? Absurd to the highest order.

Whatever. Mod, please delete my interaction and the responses here.

Most biblical scholarship consults texts or archaeology outside of the Bible in order to argue for a best interpretation of what is in the Bible. That’s what Bible scholars do.

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By using Enoch as a source?
By claiming that Paul’s theology is unreliable?

If you read the article, you will know.


No. Clearly you haven’t read the article properly (if at all).

He is using the Book of Enoch as a source for Second Temple Period Judaism. That is entirely valid, and does not require the book to be authentic or accurate.


He does not claim that Paul’s theology is unreliable.

Then I have mis-understood the article. Because I have read several areas that seem to call Paul into question.

Extra-biblical sources are often consulted to try to understand the context in which a biblical author is writing and to try to recreate the shared common ground between the author and the audience. This can help us figure out things that were not made explicit in the text, because the implicit understanding between the original communicators did not require it. I’m not trying to evaluate this particular article’s conclusions, I’m just saying he isn’t doing anything weird. This is how biblical scholarship is done. If you pick up any good commentary, there are going to be plenty of extra-biblical texts cited in the footnotes.

And questioning interpretations of Paul’s theology is fair game. What Paul’s theology actually was is what is being debated by the scholars.

You have definitely misread the article.

Ok. I can admit when I seem to have messed up. Honestly my heart wasn’t in this discussion anyway. Though I am sure you can tell.

I kinda just jumped on the seeming implications that Paul’s theology is in need of adjustment.

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