Judaism and original sin

I find this article about original sin (or the lack thereof) from a rabbi very compelling: outreachjudaism.org/original-sin/

Please read it (like really read it, all the way through) and tell me what your thoughts are. Original sin has always seemed sort of wrong to me (and I discovered today that it wasn’t even a concept until the late 300s), but this is an interesting perspective I hadn’t explored before.

  1. Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another’s burdens. If one heavily laden should call another to (bear) his load. Not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other). Even though he be nearly related. Thou canst but warn such as fear their Lord unseen and establish regular Prayer. And whoever purifies himself does so for the benefit of his own soul; and the destination (of all) is to Allah. Quran, Fâtir(35):18

  2. Who receiveth guidance, receiveth it for his own benefit: who goeth astray doth so to his own loss. No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another: nor would We punish until We had sent a messenger (to give warning). Qura, Isrâ(17):15

Human have both capability of to commit sins and do good deeds. Everyone has a free will to choose.

Not original sin but human have a original disposition to commit sin and we took that heritage from Adam and Eve. We are not sinful because of our parents commmited sin but we are too close to sins because of our weakness. So we must repent for our sins very much.

Although, as a Jew, I do not believe in the doctrine of original sin, I think Rabbi Tovia Singer fails to capture the nuances of its meaning according to Catholic teaching in his emphasis on mankind’s depravity. It seems to me he is focusing more on a Calvinist interpretation of original sin than a Catholic one. Nonetheless, he presents a strong argument based on the Hebrew Scriptures. Perhaps a Catholic layperson well-versed in the Gospels can comment further on the rabbi’s remarks concerning Paul, Matthew, and Luke.

That was what I was thinking as I was reading along, as well as the fact that there are those in Christianity that do indeed believe much inline with the view of (some) Jewish perspectives that point out that Adam and Eve’s sin had an effect, though not called “original sin” in the same manner the Calvinists do.

Also the idea of total utter depravity tends to be a Calvinist view as well.

I would take a look at the Jewish Encyclopedia, which probably gives a more balanced treatment. Not all Jews taught a doctrine of original sin, but some did. Judaism was and still is an incredibly diverse phenomenon. It would be somewhat like grouping Anglo-Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Unitarian Universalists, Mormons etc. all under the label “Protestant.” It’s not completely meaningless, but you can’t treat them as if they were a homogeneous group.


Second, I think you need to re-read the article (or correct me). I only skimmed the article, but I didn’t see Rabbi Singer allege anywhere that idea of original sin was unknown until the fourth century. He even lays the blame for the doctrine at the foot of St. Paul, saying that Paul twisted the Jewish scriptures to invent the doctrine of original sin. If you didn’t get your idea from there, whatever the other source with is wrong. Paul definitely does teach a doctrine of original sin, and so do the other pre-fourth-century Christian fathers.

Keep in mind, like others said, that there are different understandings of “original sin.” By the frequent use of the word “missionaries” in his article, I get the idea that the rabbi’s contact with Christianity is mostly with Protestant missionaries, who are focused on proselytizing Jews. If you had a lot of contact with Baptists asking, “do you know if you died right now, you would go to heaven,” and stuffing Chick tracts in your face, I can see how you would get a distorted view of Christianity. I would definitely have a bone to pick with the way the rabbi interpreted Paul.

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