Critical scholars have long rejected Genesis 3 as an accurate account of actual events, such as the Creation and Fall of man. However, in the recent debate over the historical Adam, many professing evangelicals, and once-professing evangelicals, who have adopted the methods and conclusions of critical secular scholarship, have pointedly argued that the doctrine of the Fall, which teaches original sin, is not original to the text of Genesis 3. These scholars see the doctrine of the Fall and original sin as an invention the church Father Augustine of Hippo (354-430) read into the text. In the recent book Adam and the Genome, which rejects a historical Adam, theologian Scot McKnight argues:
What we call the “fall” story of Genesis 3 borrows a later Christian term and, more importantly, in borrowing a later category, reads the text in ways that miss what the text meant in the ancient Near East. . . . In fact, the whole of Genesis 1–3 barely — if ever — makes another appearance in the entire Old Testament; so while many would say Genesis 1–11 is the foundation for reading the whole Bible, that is certainly at least an exaggeration if not a serious error.
It has also been pointed out that because Genesis 3 contains none of the language associated with disobedience, such as sin, evil, rebellion, transgression, and guilt, it therefore cannot be a passage that teaches the doctrine of the Fall.
Are these objections valid? Does Genesis 3 say anything about the concept of a Fall? Have Christians read something into Genesis 3 that is simply not there? I will argue that the doctrine of the Fall is a biblical concept and can be derived from the biblical text. It is important to defend the biblical concept of the Fall and original sin because “no doctrine is more crucial to our anthropology and soteriology.”