'The fall' does not appear as a title for the events of Genesis 3 in the Bible, so who first called it 'the fall' and why?

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    @All I beg to differ. Of course the literal word "fall" is not used in the text, but many commentaries, including Keil and Delitzsch's, title this chapter "The Fall". When Paul talks about "you've fallen from grace", name another circumstance that doesn't originate from the Garden of Eden. The word "curse" first appears in Gen. 3, but what context does "curse" have if we don't understand "fall"? Since "The Fall" precipitated the Atonement, a term we DO accept, "F_A_L_L", though we may not see a literal transcription mark, is behind the understanding and therefore hermeneutics, Context is key.
    – Tau
    May 21, 2017 at 18:27
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    @All By hermeneutics, I mean Biblical Hermeneutics. If we are referring Buddhist Hermeneutics I would quite agree...;)
    – Tau
    May 21, 2017 at 18:36
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    Agreed with @Tau. Going by the textbook definition we have before us, this question is about a biblical text (Genesis 3) and is about both A) the history of the text itself and B) the meaning of the biblical text... through a process of arriving at a particular interpretation ("The Fall").
    – Steve can help
    May 22, 2017 at 12:38
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    This question really should have never been reopened. The answers it is attracting are proof of that. This belongs somewhere like Christianity, although I'm not sure it's even on topic there. This is not about understanding the text, but a later Christian theological term's historical development.
    – Dan
    Feb 18, 2018 at 3:17
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    @ConstantinJinga if this question were focused on that particular text (and the use of the word in that context alone), then by all means that would be on topic. But as it stands, this is inviting answers about the historical development of the term in Christian theology (look at the answers this is attracting) - the term does not come from this text (just as questions about "the Trinity" would be off topic as the term is anachronistic to biblical texts and concerns later theology).
    – Dan
    Feb 18, 2018 at 19:48

7 Answers 7


The Fall (of man), can be understood without connecting it to Original sin as most answers have done. The fall of man was not the first fall, The First fall" was the fall of Satan a (son of God). Satan with rage being hurled to the earth became bent at replicating his fall, knowing that the Judgment he received would be same for Adam. We know of Satan's transgression.

The King James bible in Isaiah 14 from verse 12How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, [and] consider thee, [saying, Is] this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;" (Isaiah 14:12-16 KJV)

"13Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone [was] thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14Thou [art] the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee [so]: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15Thou [wast] perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 16By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee." (Ezekiel 28:13-17 KJV)

When u take a look at Satan's Strategy to make man sin you will find similar methods, making sure Adams transgression was as his own. This resulted to the fall of man from Position, Location and Place.

  • I think this is an excellent answer, and I agree with the quoting of Isaiah 14:12 and the emphasis as to what is revealed to have occurred prior to the occurrences in Eden. My own personal understanding is that this is why the creation is viewed in Genesis 1 as bohu and tohu (inglorious and markedly so) or 'waste and void' as the KJV puts it.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 4, 2019 at 11:59
  • Off course Nigel J. I would love to see your answer also Nov 4, 2019 at 19:26
  • I think you have thoroughly answered the question and done so more competently than I would have done.All I could do would be to repeat what you have said.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 4, 2019 at 19:28

Why is Adam's disobedience to God in Genesis 3 referred to as 'the fall'?

Man's Fall From Perfection.

Adam was created as a perfect man in the image of God:

Genesis 1:27,31 (NET Bible)

27 "God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. 31 God saw all that he had made—and it was very good! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day."

Being a perfect human being , Adam was able to live forever, he would have enjoyed perfect health and never grow old and die, this is evident from what God said to Adam: 16"Then the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17 (NET Bible)

Adam disobeyed God and fell from perfection, not only for himself but also for his offspring, this explains why the human body is prone to deceases , imperfections , degenerates and dies. This goes against evolution, for it presents man as an improving animal, going from perfection to perfection.


I think this question's phrasing elides the most important element of the narrative of The Fall, which is the relevance of the first human's sin to our own sinfulness and salvation.

The use of the term, The Fall, is sensible enough for all the reasons mentioned in the other replies––most importantly the parallel with Satan's banishment & the cursing of humanity based on the actions of the serpent, Eve, and Adam (though I disagree vehemently that the term's appearance in commentaries justifies its use in any way.)

However, because The Fall carries with it such specific doctrinal connotations, several questions surrounding it must be answered: why did that original transgression happen, what were its real-world consequences, and how did God treat humanity afterward. In the very next chapter God famously advises Cain that "unto thee shall be [sin's] desire, and thou shalt rule over him." (Gen 4:7, KJV).

If "original sin" (a term also not found in the Bible, with far greater significance), is what defines humanity's sinful nature, why would God turn around and immediately tell Cain that he could rule over sin? Why would God give the Law and expect people to follow it? After all, Paul's argument in Romans is quite solid, logically, particularly in light of Jesus' intensification of the Decalogue in Matthew. It is impossible for humanity not to sin, as the Bible makes abundantly clear. Therefore two people's sin, at the start of the story, is no more significant than Adam and Eve going to the bathroom or preferring a temperate 74*F climate––merely a commonplace for creatures such as we.

If you ask me, the whole concept is bunk. The story of the Old Testament is a series of covenants with God, with humanity's Free Will usually getting in the way of God's plans. The sin in the garden is special only for being chronologically first; there is no reason to see it as definitive.


Adam's "transgression" [AV] in Romans 5:14 is parabasis in the original. [Stephens 1550 Text.]

My understanding of basis in Greek is that it refers to the actual placing of the feet, not the feet, physically, themselves. Thus "steppings" is how I translate it myself. Thus Adam walked a parallel course. His steppings were parallel to the true.

He was not wildly off the mark. He did no murder or theft, as such. But he walked in a parallel progress whose outcome was deviant from the true. And he did so because he chose to be influenced by Eve who had confused one Tree for another. A parallel tree, as it were.

Is this word, parabasis, where the idea of "Fall" comes from ?

Or is it from Romans 5:15 (and elsewhere) in the word paraptoma, the "offence" [AV] of one.

Some have translated this as "a mortal fall" from ptoma, a corpse, and have likened it to someone falling down beside, para, a dead body.

I like to translate paraptoma as a "corpence" so as to maintain the association of a carcase.

Adam walked a parallel path, in deviation. And so his further actions were as near to the state of a corpse as it is possible, para, to be, without actually being dead, is how I see the matter.

A Fall, indeed.

  • 1
    This "answer" does not seem to have any connection to the OP question. The passage in question is Genesis 3. What does Greek have to do with this? The base text is Hebrew. If you are suggesting that the origin of the use of "fall" in this context is Romans 5, then you state that explicitly.
    – user17080
    Sep 26, 2017 at 6:14

Nigel J has a point (+1). Of course, the origin of the use of "fall" is not in the context of Romans 5. Besides, in the NT writings we find many different other Greek words for „fall”, most often probably words derived from πίπτω or πίπτω itself. However this could lead us towards a possible answer. Nigel J, thank you for a most probably wonderful idea.

First of all, in Romans 5:12 the idea of original sin is related to the idea of death. Adam+Eve’s sin is said to be the origin of death:

Romans 5:12 … just as sin (ἡ ἁμαρτία) came into the world through one man, and death through sin (διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος), and so death spread to all men because all sinned (ESV)

In Romans 5:14, for Adam+Eve’s sin the author is using a different word:

Romans 5:14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression (τῆς παραβάσεως) of Adam ... (ESV)

Sin or transgression, the general idea is that as sin/transgression entered our race through Adam, so did death as the consequence of Adam’s sin/transgression.

Why transgression? What transgression? There is another Paul’s statement that can shed some light upon this:

1 Timothy 2:14 Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor (παραβάσει). (ESV).

Could we say that Adam and Eve stepped out (παράβασις) of the roles given to them by God at creation? And this is why Paul is using two different words (sin/transgression)?

But in the end what all this have to do with the OP question? Let’s return to Genesis 3. More precisely, shall we go to Genesis 3:20, bearing in mind this idea, that Adam+Eve’s sin/transgression has death as an immediate consequence. See also a very blunt apocrypha:

Sirach 25:24 Sin began with a woman, and we must all die because of her. (GNT)

It is this woman/death connection that caught my attention.

Now as we all know, in Genesis 3:20:

Genesis 3:20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. (ESV)

And we are taking this as a face value, as it comes from the Bible.

Now I am well aware that what I am going to say could be taken as a mere speculation, yet please do take it into consideration at least as a hypothesis and a good idea to follow into a more comprehensive research.

We generally share the idea that [חַוָּה] is about the idea of life, the source of life. For the Bible tells us so in Genesis 3:20. The same Bible in which we also find something like this:

  • Job 37:6 For to the snow he says, ‘Fall [הֱוֵ֫א] on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour. (ESV)

For Job 37:6, the KJB will render, of course, „Be thou on the earth” for „Fall on the earth”. Why „fall on the earth”? The [הֱוֵ֫א] occurs in BHS (WTS). And we are told that this is verb, qal, imperative, masculine, singular of [הוה], “to blow, fall, die” (see HAL, HALOT). There are some very rather gloomy der. as well [הַוָּה from הוה, desire, capriciousness; or הוָֹה from הוה, with deriv. as disaster, destruction]

Of course, there are many other words derived from חוה. The TWOT is very rich in explanations. Among others, for instance, חָוָה can mean "to prostrate oneself”; “to worship.” The verb in its original sense meant to prostrate oneself on the ground, a common act of self-abasement (see TWOT 619)

In the following I shall quote some excerpts from J. Skinner (p. 89), please see the complete reference bellow, at the end of this answer:

"[חוה]...the similarity of the name to the aram. word for ‘serpent’ (חַוֵּי, תִוְיָא, Syr. ܚܶܘܝܳܐ Syro-Pal. ܚܘܐ [Mt. 7:10]) has always been noticed, and is accepted by several modern scholars [in Skinner's paper there are references for this - my note CJ] as a real etymological equivalence [...] The ancient idea was that Eve was so named because she had done the serpent’s work in tempting Adam (Ber. R.; Philo, De agr. Noe, 21; Clem. Alex. Protrept. ii. 12. 1)."

Indeed, 'the fall' does not appear as a title for the events of Genesis 3. Why is Adam's disobedience to God in Genesis 3 referred to as 'the fall'? Who first called it 'the fall' and why? Why not Adam itself, when he called his wife’s name Eve? Why not just to give her a name so as to remember, as it was usual these days?

Or should we rather say ... it was the author of Genesis from the very beginning, in order to highlight a change of relation between Adam+Eve & God? If חָוָה can mean "to prostrate oneself” as an act of self-abasement, this could imply that from now on Adam+Eve are not anymore in the same position with respect to God, but they began considering themselves as much lower then they were before?

Adam or the author of Genesis gave the name Eve, because she was the mother of all living, but also as to remember "the fall" - and this idea was probably perpetuated as a tradition until Sirach 25:24 and more and developed by Philo of Alexandria, by Paul in Romans 5:12-14; 1 Timothy 2:14 etc., by Clement of Alexandria ... up until today.

Yet, just as I said above: it is a hypothesis to be followed into a comprehensive research. Please let me know if anyone is going to do it, I am really interested how it would develop, I really do.

As a reference for the above please see:

  • R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer, B. K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1999, p. 297;
  • G. R. Driver, Studies in the Vocabulary of the Old Testament, in The Journal of Theological Studies, 31:279–80
  • J. Skinner, A critical and exegetical commentary on Genesis, Scribner, New York, 1910, p. 89

The last two are in many ways obsolete, yet it is funny how easy we forget the work of so extraordinary people who did such a tremendous work long before us.


The concept of the fall is closely related to the concept of original sin. The thinking is that since the original Adam sinned, all of mankind has fallen from perfection.

So to pinpoint the origin of the fall you have to pinpoint the origin of original sin, since it was original sin that caused the fall.

I think both of these ideas came from none other than the early church father Irenaeus. He introduced both of these concepts while writing against the Gnostics.


Luke 10:18English Standard Version (ESV) 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

Isaiah 14:12 "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was hurled down--the ancient serpent called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. He was hurled to the earth and his angels with him.

When Satan attempted to be like God, he was hurled down in a symbolic, if not a literal fall. When Adam repeated Satan’s sin, the word pattern is repeated to make a parallel.

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