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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Quinn

Original Sin's Etymological Origins

According to many Christians, 'original sin' is the belief that humans are inherently born with the urge to choose bad or do harm.

Let's look into the etymology of "sin" to understand its origins.

The origin of the word 'sin' dates back to the Proto-Indo-European root seuH which, by adding the suffix 'nu', means 'to give birth'. Sin can also be linked with the Anglo-Saxon word 'sunu' which derives from the Germanic word 'sonh', both words referring to the male offspring of a man and woman. 'Sunu' carries 'sun', as 'sonh' is 'son'.

'Sin' also can mean, in German Sünde, 'trespass' or 'offense':

The notion is probably ultimately "it is true," i.e. "the sin is real" (compare Gothic sonjis, Old Norse sannr "true"), from PIE snt-ya-, a collective form from es-ont- "becoming," present participle of the root *es- "to be." (Etymonline)

In the Bible's first chapter Genesis, 'original sin' springs from the plentiful Garden of Eden when a serpent presents an opportunity for Eve to betray and deceive God. The serpent tempts Eve, God's first female creation, to take a bite of the only forbidden fruit in the garden, symbolizing indulgence and all-seeing knowledge. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). After bargaining with temptation, Eve presents the same opportunity for Adam, who also eats it. Due to the broken vow between God and mankind, God casts the couple out of the safe space of the garden and into the real world, where they are now subjected to, and cannot defy, the law of nature.

The meaning of sin is to give birth or to bear a son. Eve is cited as the first human to demonstrate 'original sin', the first human able to bear life. Life can be quite burdensome when exiled out of the Garden of Eden.

God then says to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life" (Genesis 3:14).

This is assuming that the serpent had limbs, or had not crawled on its belly prior to mankind's betrayal; it may have originally been a creature such as a lizard or dragon. However, in scripture, the serpent is depicted as a snake (these two words look a lot like 'servant' and 'slave', interestingly). The serpent is also seen as Satan, meaning 'adversary' or 'accuser', as well as the Prince of Darkness, Lord of the Flies, the Antichrist, and the Father of Lies. The Hebrew Bible, which is older than most Bibles, does not mention Satan, the devil, demons, or hell.

The origin of 'Eve' comes from the Latin name 'Eva' which derives from the Hebrew words 'chavah' or 'chayah' meaning 'to breathe', 'to live', or 'to give life'. Does Eve give life to sin, or a son? Or both? Or multiple sons, for that matter (she has four in the Bible).

In Hebrew, the name 'Adam' derives from 'adamah' meaning 'earth', 'soil', 'man', 'mankind', or 'humanity'.

Now, let's create sentences with the root meanings of 'Adam', 'Eve', and 'sin':

Eve births sin with Adam. Breath births life with earth.

Adam and Eve create sin. Man and life create offense. / Man and life create truth.

Sin comes from Adam and Eve. Becoming comes from mankind and breath.

Adam and Eve have original sin. The soil and life have (original) son, or sun.

This linguistically illustrates the natural creation of humankind. Humanity births offspring. The soil breathes life. Man lives truth. Earth births the sun.

'Sin', 'son', and 'sun' may be much more distinctively related than what our history gives credit for!

The iconic tale of Adam and Eve is an ancestral, familial story about the power behind our individual choice. Many people call this free will.

What is the threshold of living in abundance?

Are we Takers - those who indulge in greed, or are we Leavers - those who provide and nurture in gratitude? Are we both? We are meant to weigh our own healthy balance of giving and receiving.

How do we get back to the Garden of Eden? Maybe we never left. Or, maybe we have freely made the choice to leave. Does it mean we will be welcomed back home? The parable of the prodigal son says so.

The feeling of abundance comes from within - gratitude for life. Mankind seems to eventually, naturally, return to the garden. 'God' means 'to call' or 'to invoke'. Following the sound of our 'calling' may lead and guide us back to our inner abundance, our source of creation. It seems like humanity has a historical habit of forgetting, repeatedly, in order to remember again. We tend to enjoy hard lessons for the purpose of gaining wisdom in the journey of life.

Maybe our 'original sin' isn't as bad as we thought, as long as we can trust our own freedom to make good choices.

Choosing freely is meant to feel natural.

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