There are some reasons considered by the Catholic Church to assume the Incarnation even without the Fall. Simply speaking, Jesus would come even if Adam and Eve would not have eaten the apple.

There are good biblical arguments (Romans 5:12-21) that there will be no (human) death. This concept does not contradict science as treated by Aquinas and interpreted here.

An important aspect of incarnation is radical God's self-giving, the kenosis that happened by the death on cross. I assume that also people shall practice similarly radical self-giving (John 15:13).

Question: How it would be possible to lay down one's life for one's friends if there is no death?

Note: I heard somewhere that there would be some transition like this, just without sorrow and pain. Similar to Mary's assumption. How it would look like? Would the person after the transition still be on the Earth?

I would appreciate Catholic position.

  • 1
    Are you asking if the Incarnation would have still occurred even if Adam had not sinned?
    – Geremia
    May 1, 2019 at 17:36
  • I think you could focus this question into a particular denomination so it wouldn't be a general purpose philosophy question. It does seem like something that is answerable and pertinent to theology, but we can't know exactly where you're coming from and what kinds of answers you would accept
    – Peter Turner
    May 2, 2019 at 17:22
  • Edited. I hope it helped. May 2, 2019 at 18:02
  • works for me! (also, if you want to respond to a comment, make sure you add the @peter in the comment otherwise it's just luck that I see it)
    – Peter Turner
    May 2, 2019 at 18:35

2 Answers 2


Any radical transformation in case of incarnation without fall?

The answer is Yes according to Eastern Church Fathers as they teaches the word Theosis.

Theosis, or divinization ("divinization may also refer to apotheosis, lit. "making divine"), is a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God, as taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches. As a process of transformation, theosis is brought about by the effects of catharsis (purification of mind and body) and theoria ('illumination' with the 'vision' of God). According to Eastern Christian teaching, theosis is very much the purpose of human life. It is considered achievable only through a synergy (or cooperation) between human activity and God's uncreated energies (or operations).[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis_(Eastern_Christian_theology)

Adam & Eve have access to the Tree of Life, and the fruit of the Tree of Life is what the Catholic Church believe today as the Holy Eucharist. The transformation, the Catholic Church teaches is a "transfigured bodies" for those who lived a Eucharistic Life.

Saint Albert the Great taught that the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, is the Fruit of the Tree of Life.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_life

1000 This "how" exceeds our imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith. Yet our participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ's transfiguration of our bodies:

Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God's blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.556

Question: How it would be possible to lay down one's life for one's friends if there is no death?

If Adam & Eve did not Fall then Jesus would still come as Creation & Incarnation is not a separate plan but a complete plan of God based on the teaching of Blessed John Duns Scotus on the Primacy of Christ. According to Blessed Scotus Jesus will still come not as a Redeemer but King of His creation.

The theology of John Duns Scotus places Christ at the centre of a universe ordered by love. Christ is presented as the basis of all nature, grace and glory – the most perfect model of humanity. He is at the beginning, the centre and the end of the universe.

St. Paul tells us that Christ was the first-born of all creation, and Scotus’ theology makes sense of this affirmation. Scotus did not believe that the acts of creation and Incarnation were separate, but part of one divine plan. So rather than the Incarnation being a sort of “Plan B” to rescue humanity after the fall, in Scotus’ theology it is the whole purpose of creation. Christ is the masterpiece of love in the midst of a creation designed for love, rather than a divine plumber come to fix the mess of original sin. Thus the Incarnation is placed by Scotus in the context of creation and not of human sin. The Primacy of Christ in John Duns Scotus: An Assessment.

Note: I heard somewhere that there would be some transition like this, just without sorrow and pain. Similar to Mary's assumption. How it would look like? Would the person after the transition still be on the Earth?

This is a different scenario on your premise above wherein Adam Eve did not Fall. Mary's Assumptions happened because original sin enters the world. You might probably asking on the appearance of the faithful souls in the New Paradise. The Book of Revelation speaks of a Eucharistic Era, so based on Catholic Church Catechism#1000 souls will be given a foretaste of Christ "transfigured bodies".

In closing,the Primacy of Christ teaches that the Omnipotent God in all eternity knew that Adam & Eve will fall into temptation even the Fall of Lucifer as the Wisdom of God knew everything.

"For the spirit of the Lord fills the world, is all-embracing, and knows whatever is said.(Wisdom1:7)

The Primacy of Christ is the ultimate radical transformation, A Creator transforming into a creature assuming humanity devoid of all powers majesty, but why?

St.Athansius has the answer;

"God becomes man, so that man shall become gods."(St.Athanasius)

Jesus the Begotten Son of God has to come down to show us the Way how to enter His Father's Kingdom, and there's is only one way and the first one who teach the Apostles the Way that Jesus had shown by His life is the Theotokos. The Catholic Church teaches that the Way to Heaven and "transformation" is the Way of the Cross.

As St.Paul boldly exclaimed his own transformation;

"I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians2:20)


In the hypothesis of Incarnation without sin, it is obvious that the Incarnated Word would not have been rejected, mistreated and killed by people. Not only the passion and death of the Incarnated Word would not have been necessary for the atonement of sins, but also it would not have been even possible, because people in the original state of holiness and justice would have recognized, worshipped and loved Him.

In this hypothetical case, the Word would still have assumed a human nature "for us men, and for our salvation" as the Nicene creed says, understanding salvation not in the negative way of delivering people from hell, but in the positive way of making people "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), members of the Word and temples of the Holy Spirit, and thus able, when glorified at the end of their time on earth, to see God "as He is" (1 John 3:2), "face to face" (1 Cor 13:12).

To note, the case is not that the Incarnation of the Word is the only way in which God can make people partakers of the divine nature even if they did not sin, but that it is the most fitting way. Just as the case was not that, once people sinned, the loving obedience of the Incarnated Word to God the Father to the point of death on a cross was the only way in which God could forgive people for their sins and make them again partakers of the divine nature, but that it was the most fitting way (Summa Theologica, Part III, Question 46, Articles 1-3) [1].

The notion that the Word assuming a human nature is the most fitting way for God to make people partakers of the divine nature, even if people had not sinned, seems fairly self-evident. It is also evident in several texts from the Church Fathers which refer to the Incarnation as the divine course of action for our theosis without connecting it necessarily with the Passion of the Incarnated Word for the atonement of sins, with some of those texts referred in paragraph 460 of the Catechism [2]. An ancient antiphony of Latin liturgy praises this divine course of action, again without making a necessary connection to the Passion for the atonement of sins, by calling it "wonderful exchange" ("admirabile commercium") [3]. For further reference, there is ample current literature on the subject, from brief [4] to extensive [5].

In this hypothetical scenario, the Incarnated Word would still have given us an example of radical Self-giving to God the Father, even if that Self-giving would not have involved an obedience to the Father to the point of death. Clearly for the Incarnated Word to give Himself to God the Father in loving obedience, and out of that love, to the people whom the Father loves, it is not intrinsically necessary that the Father commands the Word to let people kill Him! Though suffering to the point of death in loving obedience to God is the highest way in which radical self-giving to God may be realized, clearly it is not the only way.


[1] http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4046.htm

[2] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P1J.HTM

[3] First antiphon of Vespers and Lauds of the pre-1969 feast of the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord / Circumcision of the Lord, and first antiphon of Vespers of the current feast of St. Mary Mother of God, both feasts on January 1st: "O wonderful exchange: The Creator of the human race, assuming an ensouled body, deigned to be born of a Virgin, and coming forth as a man without intervention of [male] seed, has granted to us his Divinity." ("O admirabile commercium: Creator generis humani, animatum corpus sumens, de Virgine nasci dignatus est, et procedens homo sine semine, largitus est nobis suam deitatem.")

[4] E.g. https://www.hprweb.com/2010/12/o-admirabile-commercium-the-true-christmas-exchange/

[5] E.g. https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/o-marvelous-exchange-12607

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