Soul‐Making, Theosis, and Evolutionary History: An Irenaean Approach

Zygon 54 (2):523-541 (2019)
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In Romans 5, St. Paul claims that death came into the world through Adam's sin. Many have taken this to foist on us a fundamentalist reading of Genesis. If death is the result of human sin, then, apparently, there cannot have been death in the world prior to human sin. This, however, is inconsistent with contemporary evolutionary biology, which requires that death predates the existence of modern humans. Although the relationship between Romans 5, Genesis, and contemporary science has been much discussed—often with goal of dissipating the idea that the two are in conflict—the specific issue of death entering the world through sin has remained difficult to resolve. I argue that the Eastern Orthodox tradition has the resources to respect both Romans 5 and contemporary science. Appealing to a broadly Irenaean notion of soul‐making, and to the idea of theosis, opens up space for an understanding of these passages that is both scientifically informed and Orthodox.



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James Collin
University of Glasgow

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