On Adam and Life in Eden before the Fall

By St. Symeon the New Theologian

symeon_the_new_theologianGod is the creator of the world and of man. During the first five days, He made the earth and everything that is on it, as well as the sky. On the sixth day, He created man. On the seventh day, He rested after all the work that He had done (Genesis 1, 1-10).

The seven days of the world creation symbolise the ages that follow one another over time. Heaven was built on the eight day, imagining the age to come, which is not subject to the passing of time. God placed Heaven eastward, in Eden, and planted all sorts of trees there that were pleasant to the eye and good for eating (Genesis 2, 8-9). God made Adam a king over all the visible creatures living under the sky.

Adam was made of two natures: a thinking one and a sentient one; he was made of soul and body. And the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground – we read in the Bible – and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2, 7). The breath of life is the phrase for the thinking, simple, immaterial soul, which is made in the image of God.

Only the human soul has mind, memory, imagination, will, and feeling. In Adam – the first man ever built -, the soul stood under the umbrage of the Holy Spirit and as a result, it was unmoved by evil tendencies. The Holy Spirit was united with the soul, in our ancestor, just as a soul would merge with another soul, and thus its thoughts would become one, in unity and harmony.

Thanks to such unity with God the Light, Adam was – in terms of his grace endowment – made of three things: body, soul, and the grace of the divine Spirit. Clad in the godly power that is worn by the angels, he was strong, pure, and holy. He would contemplate God whilst his mind was in Heaven, he would receive from Him thought irradiations, and, when necessary, he would listen to God’s voice.

Before his Fall, Adam was wise and, in his great wisdom, he named all the animals. By being able to see the thinking light, he would contemplate God in the light and had spiritual, god-like knowledge.

At the same time with the Grace light that surrounded the first man, even the whole plant world, as well as some of the creatures, were lit by the grace of God, as His light would visibly radiate from the creatures.

Human nature, as [initially] built by God, although passionless and sinless, was however endowed with self-steering, enabling it to either reach higher levels through grace, or lower levels, through its proud free will.

Human thought per se was inconstant and perverted. The state of the human mind depends on the topic with which its thoughts occupy themselves; by reflecting on God, that state gets permanent, while by occupying themselves with inconstant (perennial) things, it is troubled by them. The will of Adam, as the one who was built by God, the will that was untainted by sin, would rise with perfect control upon itself as he would attach his mind to the One God. Which is why our ancestor was ever advancing towards a constant resemblance with God, through the power of Grace.

Adam’s nature included anger and desire (lust), but they were not passions, but good inclinations, due to which our ancestor was striving towards the thought-made goods of God, whilst anger – in the form of enticement and zeal – was steered towards a zealous quest for the divine good things. Thanks to this, the holy man as built by God did not need to rely on any written law in order to distinguish between good and evil. It was in his power to eat from any tree in Heaven, and, above all, from the Tree of Life.

However, in order for man to realise his inconstancy and remain in his good state while fully aware of it, he was given an order: not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God warned Adam that he will die if he tasted from the fruit of the forbidden tree. Thus, the first man – free of sin, lust, and passionate anger – was called upon to become God’s servant fully and freely and as part of his obedience, to find his honour, glory, and joy.

Until the Fall, Adam was truly happy, living in complete contentment, without any troubles, sadness, or needs, and free of any natural necessities. If Adam had not acted wrongly, then with the help of the godly light that was flowing upon him, he would have risen higher and higher, towards perfect glory; his own body would have become completely spiritual, and he would have never thought of being able to live outside God.


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