These readings cause me a difficulty with the Roman Catholic dogma of Original Sin.  That dogma seems based on Romans 5:9, 19, 20.  The problem is that the dogma seems to find its scriptural base in an ambiguous verse, which the Catechism presents by using an ellipsis [ … ] to omit the difficult part.  This is described in detail below the double line.


What is the relationship between human sin as an individual responsibility and as a group responsibility, emanating from the doctrine of Original Sin?  Is there a relationship?  Are the United States bishops entirely forthright in their Catechism?  How proper is such questioning?


At least some scholars argue that the book of Genesis is presented to cause such questioning.  At issue is the role of wisdom in discerning the will of God.  My position is that such questioning is an appropriate theological exercise for the Faithful.


I began developing these reflections Sunday, January 20, when the Diocese of Richmond ordered a second collection for Respect Life Advocacy.  Genesis is about respecting life.  Genesis is about life equating with love and life with God and death with separation and life without God.  The philosophical cosmological applications of that reality are political, contemporary, and urgent.


Cosmology is that aspect of philosophy related to material reality.  As I learned it in the seminary, cosmology is the most difficult aspect of Aristotelian philosophy that underlies Catholic theology.  The problems the Magisterium has with Galileo illustrate the difficulty.  Even today, students and faculty at the University of Rome objected to Pope Benedict XVI speaking there because, as Cardinal Ratzinger, Benedict claimed that Galileo received a fair trial.[1]


Galileo was the first to prove that the earth was not the center of the universe, in that the earth went around the sun and the sun did not go around the earth.  What Galileo proved was in the philosophical realm of cosmology.  As far as I can tell, the position of the Magisterium on birth control and Respect Life is also in the philosophical realm of cosmology.  This matter is of significance to conscience formation by the Faithful.


Annotated Bibliography

Material above the double line draws from material below the double line.  Those uninterested in scholarly details should stop reading here.  If they do, however, they may miss some of the fun stuff scholars are digging up.  


Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7

          Gen 2:7

          Dale Launderville, O.S.B., “Ezekiel's Throne-Chariot Vision: Spiritualizing the Model of Divine Royal Rule”[2]

          Genesis 2:7 transfers life from God into human life, “God … blew into his nostrils the breath of life …” The verse is appropriate for contemplation before the March on Washington objecting to Roe v. Wade.


          Genesis 2:7

          Bernardin Schneider, O.F.M., "The Corporate Meaning and Background of 1 Cor 15,45b—`O Eschatos Adam eis Pneuma Zoiopoioun" as found at 070115.[3]

          Schneider reports that Paul quotes Genesis 2:7c at 1 Cor 15:45a, but not quite.  Genesis 2:7c has and man became a living soul, but 1 Cor 15:45a has the first man ADAM became a living soul.  Paul gave, in the words of Sister Schneider, “a rabbinic-type amplification to pave the way for gal wahomer (from lesser to greater) conclusion e contrario in the second half [of 1 Cor 45].”


          Gen 2:7

          Casimir Bernas, O.C.S.O., review of Mamy Raharimanantosa, Mort et Espérance selon la Bible Hébraique[4]

          Bernas writes that in the case of the First Testament, Raharimanantosa concludes, as Bernas, the reviewer puts it, “faith resolves the conflict by the juxtaposition of conflicting ideas.  Death is a question; hope is an answer.”  In the New Testament, the meaning of death settles in separation from God.


          Gen 2:8

          Walter A. Vogels, review of André Lacocque, The Trial of Innocence: Adam, Eve, and the Yahwist[5]

          Vogels writes that Lacocque “attributes the [Genesis] text to “A Storyteller Called the Yahwist (J),” who wrote the whole story—`I shall in general take exception to highly hypothetical suggestions of text emendations’ (p. 6).”  Vogels continues with the words of Lacocque.  “`I shall call attention to the mostly overlooked dialectical mind of the author and to the fine psychological sense of reality’ (p. 6.)”  Dialectic requires thought and confrontation of differing ideas, brought out by examining what various scholars write concerning the verses the Lectionary uses.


          Genesis 2:9

          Richard Clifford, S.J. and Khaled Anatolois, "Christian Salvation: Biblical and Theological Perspectives"[6]

          Clifford reports that the tree of life occurs in only three places in the Christian Bible, one of which is here at Genesis 2:9.  The other places are Genesis 3:22, 24, Proverbs 3, and Revelation 2 and 3.  “In Genesis the tree of life grows in the Garden of Eden and is in poetic parallelism with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9); only the fruit of the latter tree is forbidden to the first couple.”  This causes a problem, if the Faithful are called upon, as they are, to discern the difference between good and evil.  The problem resolves itself, when knowledge is taken to mean experiential knowledge, rather than theoretical understanding.


Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17

          This Psalm is available for Catholic funerals.[7]


United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults[8]


          The bishops refer to this Psalm in Chapter 18, “Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.”  The bishops write,


Even when the beloved King David lied, committed adultery, and caused the death of an innocent man, he was not beyond God’s mercy, to which he had a humble recourse.  Psalm 51 gives us words to express the kind of contrition and to trust in God’s forgiveness [sic] that David felt after committing these sins.


          Psalm 51:15-17

          Dale Patrick, review of William K. Gilders, Blood Ritual in the Hebrew Bible: Meaning and Power[9]

        Gilders examines the Hebrew or Masoretic text for the meaning and power of blood ritual.  Gilders finds controversy in the practice.  The reviewer, Patrick, writes, “… priests could not avoid theorizing about atonement when confronted by a pietistic, prophetic party that accorded atoning significance to the contrite heart (Ps 51:15-17; Isa 66:2-4).”  Psalm 51, then, is a political rejection of blood ritual.


Romans 5:12-19

          Rom 5:1-21

          Robert A. J. Gagnon, “Why the `Weak’ at Rome Cannot Be Non-Christian Jews”[10]

          This passage is one of the “bookends of grace” that soften some of the harshness in other sections of Romans.


          Rom 5:12-21                               

          Frank J. Matera, "Christ in the Theologies of Paul and John: A Study in the Diverse Unity of New Testament Theology"[11]

          Matera writes, “Paul’s soteriological understanding of Christ’s death, then, allows him to present Christ as redeemer, justifier, reconciler, the power and wisdom of God, the eschatological Adam through whom God overcomes humanity’s history of sin.”  In other words, Christ is a second Adam.


          Romans 5:12, 19, 20b

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults[12]


          The Catechism quotes the verses as follows:


Just as through one person sin entered the world, and by sin, death and … just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.  … Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.


This is the only scripture the Catechism cites in support of Original Sin. The various standard Biblical translations of the ellipsis in verse 12 above are as follows:


Romans 5:12

Lectionary (1998)               and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned—


The Vulgate (circa 410)      et ita in omnes homines mors pertransiit, eo quod omnes peccaverunt.


Douay-Rheims (1582-1610)   and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.


King James (1611)             and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:


Catholic RSV (1969)           and so death spread to all men because all men sinned


New Jerusalem (1985)       and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned.  


New Jerusalem contains the following note, “The exact meaning is a matter of debate.  Perhaps `everyone has sinned in Adam,’ i.e. by participation in Adam’s sins, or perhaps the reference is to everyone sinning through their personal sins.  In this instance, the Gk phrase would be best translated `by the fact that everyone has sinned,’ referring to the actual situation by which eternal death has extended to everyone.  In fact, in the case of adults (who alone are considered here) the power of sin which entered the world with Adam had its effects through personal sins which in some way ratify Adam’s revolt.  Alternative translation: `because of which everyone has sinned.’


New American (NAB) (1992)        and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned—

The Lectionary has all men, but the NAB, which the Lectionary usually follows, simply has all.


In addition, the NAB contains the following note, “Inasmuch as all sinned: others translate `because all sinned,’ and understand v. 13 as a parenthetical remark. Unlike Wis 2:24, Paul does not ascribe the entry of death to the devil.”


The grammarian, Maximilian Zerwick, S. J.,  remarks, “This causal sense must be adverted to in the formula ej w  = `inasmuch as,’ lest one render obscurely and ambiguously (as does the Vulgate) `and so death has come upon all men ej w (Vulgate: in quo) all have sinned’ Rom 5:12, a rendering which has led some to take the previously mentioned `Adam’ an antecedent of `quo,’ whereas ej w simply means `inasmuch as.’”  While the Lectionary does use inasmuch as, the Catechism omits that section of the verse.  Whatever the bishops in the United States may be doing here lacks transparency, as seen by the ellipsis.


          Romans 5:12

          George M. Smiga, review of Mark Reasoner, Romans in Full Circle: History of Interpretation[13]

          Reasoner identifies 5:12 (All Sinned) as one of twelve controversial texts or loci identified in Romans.  This supports the contention that the bishops avoid controversial texts not only in their Lectionary, but also in their Catechism.  I argue the matter of the Lectionary throughout these Notes, though not particularly here.  Reasoner particularly supports the Catechism argument in favor of the doctrine of Original Sin, here.


          Rom 5:13

          Mark Reasoner, review of Kari Kuula, The Law, the Covenant and God’s Plan, Volume 2, Paul’s Treatment of the Law and Israel in Romans[14]

          Kuula points out inconsistency in the arguments of Paul, concerning Jewish law.  Kuula uses Romans 5:13, 20 among a plethora of other citations, to support the argument.  She is in good company.  Reasoner notes, “Paul’s logic has been questioned by Origen and Thomas Aquinas as well.”  Kuula argues that, in his inconsistencies, Paul is testing arguments in support of his core convictions.  From this, one can conclude that Paul expected the Faithful to question, not only him, but also the Magisterium, through the ages.


          Rom 5:14-19

          Lisa Sowle Cahill, "Quaestio Disputata: The Atonement Paradigm: Does it Still Have Explanatory Value?"[15]

          Cahill worries about the Anselmian theory of Christ’s death as atonement for sin making violence, somehow, sacred.  Cahill then uses Rom 5:14-19 to argue that Saint Anselm (1033-1109)[16] narrowed the vision of Saint Paul.  The Lectionary uses verse 14, that death reigned and verse 19, pitting the disobedience of Adam against the obedience of Jesus Christ.  Cahill argues for models alternative to Anselm, namely salvation through the incarnation, which unites humanity to divinity or through the entire life of Jesus, which for Paul recapitulates the history gone so wrong in Adam.  In a word, Cahill argues that while the atonement paradigm does still have explanatory value, there are also other paradigms deserving of consideration.


Rom 5:18

The grammarian, Zerwick, writes “The `justification of life’ Rom 5:18 seems to be the justification brought by life, consisting in life.”[17]


Lectionary (1998)               through one righteous act, acquittal and life


The Vulgate (circa 410)      sic et per unius iustitiam in omnes homines in iustificationem vitae


Douay-Rheims (1582-1610)   by the justice of one, unto all men to justification of life


King James (1611)             by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous      

Catholic RSV (1969)          so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.


New American (NAB) (1970)  through one righteous act, acquittal and life


New Jerusalem (1985)       one man’s good act has brought justification and life 


This is the verse to use to promote Respect Life Sunday.

The many appears three times in the Lectionary for this Sunday.  One of those times is in verse 19, used in the Catechism above.  This is what the grammarian writes, “… not `many’ but all (who are many), the fact of a great number being more prominent to the Semitic mind than the fact of totality …”[18]


Rom 5:19

Thomas D. Stegman, S.J., "Episteusa, dio elalhsa (2 Corinthians 4:13): Paul's Christological Reading of Psalm 115:1a LXX"[19]


Romans 5:19


Lectionary (1998)               the many were made sinners


The Vulgate (circa 410)      peccatores constitute sunt multi


Douay-Rheims (1582-1610)   many were made sinners


King James (1611)             many were made sinners


Catholic RSV (1969)           many were made sinners


New American (NAB) (1970)  many were made sinners


New Jerusalem (1985)       many were made sinners


The consistency of translation, many, renders the grammarian and my translation, all, unconvincing.


Matthew 4:4b


Matthew 4:1-11

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults[20]

          The bishops refer to this passage in Chapter 36, “Jesus Taught Us to Pray.”  The bishops write, “A meditation on how Christ resisted temptation in the desert is a fruitful and inspiring example of how we should conduct ourselves in the face of temptation.”


Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy[21]

Barker suggests that the temptations “record Jesus’ coming to terms with his new situation.”


          Matt 4:1

Robert H. Gundry, “Mark 10:29: Order in the List”[22]

Grundy relates Matthew to a “familiar three-part ascensive form,” in this case from desert to parapet, to a very high mountain.


          Matt 4:3, 6

          Mark J. Goodwin, “Hosea and `the Son of the Living God’ in Matthew 16:16b”[23]

          Goodwin writes, “… Matt 4:3, 6 … identifies Jesus as the Son of God who is Israel tempted in the wilderness.  In contrast to the exodus generation of Israel, Jesus is the faithful son who acts in filial obedience to God’s will.”


          Matt 4:3

          Neil J. McEleney, C.S.P., “Peter's Denials—How Many? To Whom?”[24]

          McEleney uses this passage to exemplify that Matthew does not always follow his sources, including Luke, exactly.  The problem McEleney brings up is between the plural stones in Matthew 4:3, about changing stones into bread, and Luke 4:3, where Luke uses the singular, stone,


          Matt 4:3

          Boris Repschinski, "For He Will Save His People from Their Sins" (Matthew 1:21): A Christology for Christian Jews[25]

        Repschinski points out that Matthew has a general preference to write of Jesus as the Son of God.  Matthew 4:3, If you are the Son of God.



For more on sources see the Appendix file. Personal Notes are on the web site at




After-action Report


 These Notes for Reading 21A, January 13, 2008, focus on only one aspect of humility, its relationship with truth.  These Notes overlook the reality that telling the truth is capable of being cruel. Humility is a virtue that needs constant attention.


Whether or not related to Vocation Sunday, on January 13, the Bethlehem Monastery of Poor Clares in Barhamsville, Virginia did recognize silver jubilees of several Sisters, Sisters outside their own monastery.  National Vocation Awareness Week was January 13-19 in the U.S.A.[26]


          For an After-action Report on this, the First Sunday in Lent, see Reading 31A for the Fourth Sunday in Lent.

[1] Reuters, Rome, “Pope cancels visit to Rome university: Students, faculty protest Benedict’s views on science,” USA Today. Wednesday, January 16, 2008, 11A, columns 1-6.

[2] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 3 (July 2004) 375.


[3] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 29 (July 1967) No. 3 455 (149).


[4] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 3 (July 2007) 560.


[5] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 4 (October 2007) 788.


[6] Theological Studies, Vol. 66, No. 4 (December 2005) 762.


[7] N.a., International Commission on English in the Liturgy: A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, The Roman Ritual: Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and published by Authority of Pope Paul IV: Order of Christian Funerals: Including Appendix 2: Cremation: Approved for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See (New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1998) 271, 304.


[8] Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006 235. 247.


[9] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 3 (July 2006) 513.


[10] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1 (January 2000) 73.


[11] Theological Studies, Vol. 67, No. 2 (June 2006) 244. Also, cf. 253.


[12] Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006 70.


[13] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 2 (April 2006) 346.


[14] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 1 (January 2006) 151.


[15] Theological Studies, Vol. 68, No. 2 (June 2007) 419.


[17] Maximilian Zerwick, S.J., English Edition adapted from the Fourth Latin Edition by Joseph Smith, S.J., Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblico—114—Biblical Greek (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1994) 46.


[18] Max Zerwick, S.J. and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament unabridged, 5th, revised edition (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico 1996) 470 at verse 15.


[19] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 4 (October 2007) 740.


[20] Washington, D.C.: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006 488-489.


[21] London: T & T Clark International: A Continuum imprint, 2003, 31.


[22] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 3 (July 1997) 474.


[23] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 2 (April 2005) 274. Also cf. 278.


[24] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 3 (July 1990) 468.


[25] the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 68, No. 2 (April 2006) 264.


[26] Josephite News and Views: January 2008—May God Bless the Work of Our Hands this Year, page 3, column 1.