Was Adam mortal before he partook of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Has this matter been considered in Christianity? I believe there could be only two possible options here: "Yes, he was" and "No, he wasn't". But what main supporting points have been put forth for either of these doctrines?
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closed as off-topic by Lee Woofenden, Nathaniel, David♦ Jun 16 at 22:25
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Perhaps death was not the RESULT of Adam's disobedience, but CERTAIN ("surely die") death was the RESULT. That is, Adam was created mortal. As a mortal, Adam would eventually die. Hence, the availability of the Tree of Life (TOL). That is, unless Adam partook of the TOL which he was free to eat from, he would eventually die. It is clear from scripture this tree in some manner would impart immortality if it was eaten from (Gen. 3:22).
God's pronouncement that "you will SURELY die" conveyed the CERTAINTY of Adam's death if he partook of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (TOKGE) in his mortal state. Adam, as a mortal being would during the course of time eventually die. However, with the TOL being freely available for Adam to eat from, we can assume that he would eventually partake of it at which time Adam would become immortal (Gen. 3:22). Unfortunately, Adam partook of the TOKGE before the TOL, thus he would SURELY die. Inherent in this pronouncement that he would SURELY die is God's intention to keep Adam from partaking of the TOL if he partook of the TOKGE first. In other words, God would have to bar Adam from partaking of the TOL if he partook of the TOKGE first as Gen. 3:22 states God did. By partaking from the TOKGE first, it was certain ("SURELY") Adam would die because the TOL would no longer be available to the mortal to stave off death's eventuality. If the TOL was still readily available to Adam after his fall so that he could partake of it, he would "live forever" in his fallen state according to Gen. 3:22.
It is clear from Gen 3:22 that if Adam partook of the TOL, he would become immortal. If he partook of the TOL before partaking of the TOKGE, he would become immortal (without sin). Perhaps the TOKGE would then have been made available to Adam as a benefit to him. That is, with immortality imparted first, the TOKGE could be made available to him by God to add to Adam's godliness (God-likeness) "...knowing good and evil" like God (Gen. 3:22).
After all, having the knowledge of good and evil was not what was sinful for Adam, his disobedience was what was sinful, according to the Bible.
First, we must understand that only God is inherently immortal. The apostle Paulos states that God "alone has immortality" (ὁ μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν) (1 Tim. 6:16), for He alone is uncreated. Everything else that is not God is a creature, and thus, not inherently immortal. Now, although many creatures are not inherently immortal, God gives them immortality as He wills. This includes angels and Christians (John 10:28). (However, just as He gives immortality, He could also (potentially) take it away.)
As for Adam, we know for a fact that he was not inherently immortal, since only God is. Thus, the question we must ask is whether God ever gave immortality to Adam, before or after his transgression.
When Yahveh breathed into Adam's nostrils the "breath of life" (נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים), "Adam became a living creature" (וַיְהִי הָאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה) (Gen. 2:7). However, we do not know whether Adam was immortal or mortal at this point. Some time thereafter, Adam partook of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:6). Afterwards, Yahveh declared (Gen. 3:22), "Behold, Adam became like one of us, to know good and evil, and now, lest he put forth his hand and also take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever."
To "live forever" is undoubtedly synonymous with "be immortal." But, the scripture is clear that Adam would only live forever (be immortal) if he partook from the tree of life. The logical consequence is that Adam was not immortal - at least not after the fall - because he never partook from the tree of life. Yahveh obstructed Adam's access to the tree of life and banished him from Paradise (Gen. 3:24). Again, this only proves that Adam was not immortal after the fall.
However, there is a possibility, as Brilliant noted, that Adam was immortal prior to his fall, being made so by Yahveh. Then, by partaking of the fruit, he lost this immortality, and Yahveh prohibited Adam from regaining this immortality by impeding access to the tree of life.
But, we should note that, in his original state, Yahveh made trees in the garden that were "good for food" (טוֹב לְמַאֲכָל) (Gen. 2:9). While one may argue that the trees could have provided food for animals rather than Adam, Yahveh indeed informed Adam that he could eat from the trees (Gen. 2:16). Now, Jesus himself ate food after his resurrection (Luke 24:30; 24:43) despite having an incorruptible and immortal body. Therefore, the argument could be made that such trees in the garden, despite being "good for food," do not necessarily indicate that Adam required sustinence from the trees, just as Jesus did not necessarily require sustinence from the food he ate after his resurrection in his incorruptible and immortal body.
All that being said, I believe the apostle Paulos provides a definite answer in his first epistle to the Corinthians. In discussing the resurrection of the dead, he wrote,
Now, it is important to note that in v. 44, the apostle Paulos is contrasting two bodies: the "natural body" (lit. "soulish body": σῶμα ψυχικόν) and the "spiritual body" (σῶμα πνευματικόν). Then in the very next verse, saying "likewise it is written," he establishes the proof of these two bodies, using as examples "the first man Adam" who "became a living soul" and "the last Adam," Jesus Christ, who became "a life-giving spirit."
By this, we can establish that Adam possessed the "natural body" (σῶμα ψυχικόν) at the very moment he "became a living soul." Since he became a living soul (Gen. 2:7) prior to his transgression and fall, then we could ascribe all the properties the apostle Paulos attributes to the "natural body" in 1 Cor. 15 to Adam himself prior to his fall. These would include:
More importantly, it would include mortality and corruptibility (1 Cor. 15:53-54). On the other hand, Jesus who became a life-giving spirit possessed the spiritual body with the attributes of immortality and incorruptibility.
H3br3wHamm3r81's answer is good, but it is maybe too well argued, and I think perhaps s/he is missing the forest for the trees.
God told our first parents
I'll leave the Hebrew-to-English translation job to those who are well-versed in that valuable process. Assuming the translators of the NIV have done the heavy lifting for us already in that regard, I'll provide what I believe is a fair, albeit very liberal, paraphrase of God's instruction to the first man:
I've paraphrased vv.15-17 in the way I have because I think it makes at least one thing clear: Adam would retain the gift of immortality if and only if he were to refrain from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. ("Good and evil," by the way, is a Hebrew merism which today we might translate whimsically "the whole kit and caboodle," or "from soup to nuts." In other words, "the whole ball of wax.")
I assume, for the time being, that the only insight into evil Adam had prior to his disobedience was that disobedience was the wrong thing to do. In other words, it was bad, and it had a bad consequence (viz., death). How much Adam and his soulmate understood about death, we do not know. Had they already partaken of the tree of life prior to their disobedience? Probably. After all, if you already have the gift of immortality, you cannot become more immortal than immortal!
What God makes eminently clear in the text is that His preventing them from eating from the tree of LIFE came AFTER they had sinned. To have allowed our first parents to partake of the tree of life as sinners would have been unthinkable for a loving God. Imagine living forever with no prospect of redemption. Personally, I shudder at the thought.
Now I realize my use of the word redemption, above, has anachronism written all over it, but think on it for a moment. In light of what we know today about our physical bodies, how that virtually every kind of cell in our bodies (save for brain cells) is replaced with a new cell on a regular basis, who is to say the process could NOT continue forever? Were it not for the "death gene" (again, another anachronism) being passed via Adam to the next generation and to each successive generation thereafter, there is no physical reason why the human species could not be immortal.
However, the last Adam--Jesus, the Son of God--did not receive the "death gene" from an earthly father. His genetic code came from His heavenly Father, even though the egg came from the ovaries of a mortal woman (who herself HAD inherited the death gene from an earthly father and was thus destined to die, according to Protestant theology, that is).
In conclusion, my analysis of the text in Genesis 2 may be flawed by its inclusion of anachronisms, but if there is a flaw in my interpretation, it is not in the anachronisms; rather, it may be in my logic and reasoning (and here is where you might disagree with me):
BONUS MATERIAL: Interestingly, in Revelation 22 we read of another tree of life.
So here we have bookends; we have come full circle. What started as a second, forbidden tree, of which our first parents could not partake once they had sinned, ended up as an eternally fruit-bearing tree of which all God's children may partake.
As for how and why the leaves of this eternal tree serve to heal the nations, I'll leave that for another OP to question!
Life is determined by our relationship to God.
Mortality is being susceptible to death, Adam was always susceptible to death and God warned Adam of his susceptibility:
We were intentioned for life:
We look forward to life eternal:
Eternal life is subject to our relationship with God:
Therefore, man was created mortal, susceptible to death but the new birth assures eternal life, life eternal in Christ!
(Just sharing a different idea based on the pseudepigraphical book "The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan")
Adam had immortal body before the fall
Adam and Eve had a perfect immortal body before they eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After eating the fruit, their body was altered and became mortal, which will ultimately return to dust, though their soul(or spirit) is still immortal.
Adam had a bright nature before the fall.
Adam did not need food and water before the fall.
Adam and Eve will go to Hell after they die and will be tortured with fire by Satan. They will be delivered from Hell only when God shed His blood for them.
Mortality (one among the changes) was injected into humans by the consuming of the fruits by Adam and Eve. Jesus Christ repaid that debt for humanity to be reaped by whoever believes in Him [1Corinthians 15:21+].