Did Adam and Eve have the ability to experience physical pain before the fall? It seems that there is no indication in Genesis of physical pain in the Garden of Eden.

  1. Is this issue mentioned anywhere else in the Scriptures?
  2. Do any Christian traditions use other known pieces to derive some belief about what pain must have been like before the fall? If so how to they arrive at these interpretations and what doctrine do they build on these understandings?
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    You shouldn't ask a question like this because it's not answerable. Therefore, answers will be speculative. This does not serve the community well. – user1121 Jan 9 '12 at 18:08
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    @gentmatt - How am I supposed to know if it's answerable or not before asking it? – brilliant Jan 9 '12 at 18:19
  • It's a personal question - for Adam and Eve. If you cannot ask them, you need to ask someone that knew them before their fall. That leaves us with God. He did not comment on that in the bible. – user1121 Jan 9 '12 at 18:26
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    @gentmatt - In this case I shouldn't even ask such questions as whether Jesus really suffered a physical pain on the cross or not on the simple basis of the question being a personal one. And even inquiring a great number of witnesses of crucifixion wouldn't help as their body's' nervous system was not connected to the body of Jesus, thus, they wouldn't be able to say with 100% certainty that Jesus really was experiencing a physical pain. However, to know whether or not God has commented in the Bible on Adam and Eve, I still needed to ask this question. – brilliant Jan 9 '12 at 18:54
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    @gentmatt: I don't think your argument about this being a personal question works here for the reason the OP points out ... that any question about any historical figure could be personal. The point is do we have anything to go on? If you don't think we do, how about making that an answer: that you don't see any indication in scripture and we can't derive an idea about this from anything else. – Caleb Jan 9 '12 at 19:26

This is an interesting question. The simple answer is that we are really told explicitly whether or not physical pain was possible. We do know, however, that in the judgment of Eve, pain is mentioned:

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16 ESV

The phrase, "I will surely multiply your pain", could certainly indicate that physical pain was a possibility.

This brings up some theological questions though. It seems that death only exists as a penalty for sin, and it would seem that pain is related to death. Pain tells us that something is wrong physically (much like shame lets us know that something is wrong spiritually). Yet, the body seems to have been created for immortal life, so pain that indicates the destruction of the body in some way does not seem to fit.

So, if pain originated at the fall, the wording in Genesis 3:16 could indicate that pain would also be a part of something that was intended to be good rather than just with all things that are to our own destruction.

Yet, again, we are not explicitly told the answer to this question, so it seems the best we can do is contemplate what we do know.

  • Interesting! What translation is this? The translations I use don't talk about multiplying. I guess we need some advice from somebody with knowledge in old Hebrew? – user1121 Jan 9 '12 at 20:36
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    @gentmatt: There is a related question on BH.SE. "Multiply" might not be the best translation of the word rabah. (I can't tell immediately which translation was used here, by the way.) In another question, I struggled with the question of whether Genesis presents a dualistic view of evil or not. However, I believe Revelation 21:1-4 strongly implies that there was no pain before sin entered the world. – Jon Ericson Jan 9 '12 at 20:38
  • @gentmatt ESV, sorry. – Narnian Jan 9 '12 at 20:44
  • As of now, the answer is very vague. It's only one verse. Than that verse has an indirect hint. Then the hint is very unsecure when looking at the source text. What other implications for an absence of pain before the fall are there besides Rev 21:4? – user1121 Jan 9 '12 at 21:18
  • @gentmatt As I said in the answer, we are not explicitly told the answer to your question. So, this kind of answer is about the best we can do. Yet, if God did not think it important for us to know this, then we have to accept His decision. – Narnian Jan 10 '12 at 12:54

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