The Story of Original Sin

By John E. Toews

An examination of how the story of Adam and Eve was interpreted in Jewish and early Christian traditions, and the growth of the doctrine of original sin.

ISBN: 9780227174142


This work traces the history of the interpretation of the disobedience of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, through the biblical period and the time of the church fathers, to Augustine. It explains the emergence of the doctrine of original sin with the theology of Augustine in the late fourth century on the basis of a mistranslation of the Greek text of Romans 5:12. The author suggests that it is time to move past Augustine’s theology of sin, and embrace a different theology that is more biblical and makes more sense in the postmodern West and the developing world.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 144

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

John E. Toews is the retired President of Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo, and the Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament Literature Emeritus of the Fresno Pacific University Biblical Seminary.



1. The Story of Sin in Genesis 3
2. The Story of Sin in Second Temple Judaism (200 BCE-200 CE)
3. The Story of Sin in the Jesus Movement: Paul the Follower of Jesus
4. The Story of Original Sin in the Greek Church Fathers (ca. 150-400 CE)
5. The Story of Original Sin in the Latin Church Fathers Prior to Augustine (200-400 CE)
6. Augustine’s Theology of Original Sin (354-430)
7. Where Do We Go From Here? Toward a Constructive Proposal

Subject Index
Scripture Index


Endorsements and Reviews

Through careful reading of the Bible and centuries of interpretation of the biblical text, Toews demonstrates that the common understanding of original sin is not as old or as universal as many assume. This will unsettle some and excite others, but all will benefit from reflecting anew on this crucial topic.
Mark D. Baker, Associate Professor of Mission and Theology, Fresno Pacic Biblical Seminary

John Toews is the first Mennonite theologian to do a detailed study of the origins and concept of original sin. He offers a compelling argument that sin is a matter of choice, not a state into which all humans are born. is book is a must-read for all who search for understanding of God’s truth in their own lives.
William Klassen, Principal Emeritus, St Paul’s University College

I would highly recommend this fascinating monograph for biblical scholars, theologians, and seminarians interested in the history of sin within the Old and New Testaments and its reception in Second Temple Judaism and patristic literature.
Igal German, University of Toronto, in Theological Book Review, Vol 25, No 2

Towes makes some important points along the way – understanding sin as a relational and political concept not an ontological one, for example … in the process he offers the slenderest of loose threads which could be pulled in various interesting directions. Perhaps he has done us a service in piquing our curiosity and loosening those threads through his determined focus.
G.R. Evans, in Theology, Vol 117, Issue 6