It’s quite apparent that physical death predates Man. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise must not be a fan of the fossil record.
Ha, ha. At my old Baptist church, I actually had a Sunday school teacher that, in order to properly dismiss evolution and affirm his own literal take on Genesis, said all animals prior to the Fall were vegetarians and none died. (Of course, that still means that plants died.)
Paul as well as the other Jews of his day were probably convinced that physical death was a side-effect of sin, too. Understandably. All of the biblical authors probably also believed in geocentrism. Science has come a long way. It’s important to remember that Scripture teaches us about religious truths first and foremost.
Sin kills. There *is *, after all, something far worse than physical death…
There are problems no matter which way one views the biblical texts.
That “death” has various meanings is testified by Jesus himself who says that unless a seed fall into the ground and die, it reamins but a single seed.
The quote from St. Paul, though, I think refers not to the universe exactly – but if I remember right, it should be cosmos. The difference being along the line that cosmos has to do with an orderly society or furnished household whereas universe is inclusive of all creation whatsoever. Cosmopolitan for example is usually thought of as a city, and the orderly sophistication thereof. The use of cosmos and universe as synonomous may be more of an English culture issue rather than a scripture issue depending on the context.
So St. Paul may simply referring to how death entered the order of man who was not destined to die but to live forever among a changable creation. Fertility itself (self donation) is a form of death – and the Genesis text implies that man (as opposed to angels) was always intended to reproduce.
In the Genesis text (Greek) the “death” of Adam is not singular but an awkward phrase “die to death”. To death being dative (eg: the “to” in english) can also act as some kind of action description. Dying death, not transformational death like a seed, but something else. The scripture writers also had a very strong tendency to use repetitions of words in verbal and noun form for an apparently poetic style.
Much of the literature does so macroscopicly, using redundant ideas in successive sentences, this could be a memorization device (originally the texts were oral) and at the same time, it could also be a poetic device (not in the sense of rhyming sound, but by rhyming ideas). When a verb and noun are used together, both kinds of rhyming occurs – poetic sound, and redundant idea.
Your question is quite interesting, and as a pointer –
I would study the passage in Romans, and then very carefully compare St. Paul’s vocabulary against the way it is used elsewhere especially in scripture. This is an area I am slowly probing myself. Many common interpretations I have heard – fall short when reading original or period texts and comparing how people thought about things as opposed to the way we popularly think they thought. Inconsistencies show up which are clues that some of today’s ideas are probably partially incorrect also.
People were quite intelligent at the time, even if they were working with a different set of assumptions and a vocabulary which emphasized different things than ours does today.
Many of us protestants read Genesis 3 to be speaking of spiritual death. According to James 2:26 physical death is defined as seperation of body and spirit. Since, Adam and Eve became seperated from God in the garden, that would be their spiritual death.
Also, if there was no death before the fall Adam and Eve would not be able to digest food. bateria reproduces at high rates, this bateria is used in the digestion of food. It must also die, or the host would basically foam at the mouth and die himself. Also, the plants they ate would die. So, there is no reason to believe that animals, and pre-humans would also die too. If there was no decay, then there also would not be plant gorwth, because decay is neccessary for the exchange of gases. Basically, look at many of the processes of life, decay is neccessary for things to work, even to go to the bathroom.