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TH THOMIST A SPECULATIVE QUARTERLY REVIEW OF THEOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY EDITORS: THE DoMINICAN FATHERS OF THE PROVINCE OF ST. JosEPH Publishers: The Thomist Press, Washington 17, D. C. VoL. XVI APRIL, 1953 No.2 STo THOTh1AS' THEORY OF ORIGINAL SIN N OUTLINE of the doctrine of St. Thomas on the transmission and nature of Original Sin will show, as far as possible, the development of his thought in different writings. For the comparison of certain articles in the Summa Theologiae with the corresponding ones in the Commentary on the Sentences reveals a very great difference of approach. Little of the argumentation is common to the two works, although the conclusions are the same, and scarcely any of the data of the CommentaTy on the Sentences is thrown aside, but rather remains as an essential basis for the more advanced theory of the later works. I. THE EXISTENCE OF ORIGINAL SIN St. Thomas uses a number of scriptural, theological and rational arguments to show that original sin exists, and a survey of them is instructive. They find their chief develop161 162 OSWIN MAGRATH ment in the Summa Contra Gentiles (IV, c. 50). They are as follows: I. Genesis 2:16-17. "And He commanded him saying: of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat: but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat. For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it thou shalt die the death." From this text St. Thomas infers that, since it is implied that man was not created in a state in which he was subject to the necessity of death, we must say that this is a punishment for sin. Taking this as revealed, he argues that, since a punishment can only be inflicted justly for sin, wherever we find the punishment, that is, liability to death, there must we also find sin. Now this penalty is found in all mankind, even in those not capable of actual sin; hence it follows that there must be in all mankind a sin not incurred by an act of the individual 's will, but transmitted to him by his very birth or origin. 2. Romans 5: 12-14. " Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned." This is the text most frequently quoted, and is understood by St. Thomas to be an explicit statement of the fact of original sin, and is used by him as an argument not only in determining its existence, but in many questions relating to its transmission and nature. He rejects the Pelagian interpretation which explained the text as applying to actual sin, which entered the world by Adam, insofar as all men imitate his transgression when they sin.1 His most usual argument against their exegesis is that cited by Peter Lombard from St. Augustine: had transmission by imitation been meant, St. Paul would rather have said that sin entered the world by the devil, quoting Wisdom 2 :24: " But by the envy of the devil death came into the world." 1 Ad Rom., c. 8, lect. 5; Summa Theol., I-II, q. 81; IV Cont. Gmt., c. 50. STo THOMAS' THEORY OF ORIGINAL SIN 163 In the Contra Gentiles, however, he urges against the Pelagian interpretation that if this were intended SL Paul would not have said that " death passed into all men," since then both sin and its penalty would only pass into those who imitated Adam by sinningo Whereas he expressly asserts: 2 " death reigned from Adam unto Moses even over them also who have not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adamo" Again in the Commentary on Romans 3 the Scriptural use of the singular " sin " is put forward as an argument: for though the plural can be used of original sin understood in its true sense, the singular could hardly be used were it only an imitation by many actual sinso It is remarkable, and we shall see why later, that St. Thomas does not make use of" in whom all sinned" in the Commentary on the Sentenceso In his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 161-189
Launched on MUSE
2017-06-15
Open Access
No
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