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In Adam's Fall: A Meditation on the Christian Doctrine of Original Sin 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-1405183659
ISBN-10: 1405183659
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Editorial Reviews


“Modest in length, but rich in substance … even those who demur from McFarland’s thesis will learn much from a work of competent theology which takes seriously and strives to protect key components in Augustine’s understanding of original sin.”  (Evangelical Quarterly, 2 April 2012)

“Written from an ecumenical Reformed perspective heavily indebted to Augustine and arguably Barth, the book’s strength lies in its sophisticated argument in favor of Augustine’s enduring relevance to ecclesial life generally and the doctrine of original sin specifically, especially the illuminating discourse on willing which paints a surprisingly complex view of the will in concrete acts of sin.”  (Religious Studies Review, 1 December 2011)

"Overall, In Adam's Fall is an engaging and historically-informed reflection on a difficult aspect of Christian teaching that stimulates constructive dialogue and further examination." (Studies in Religion, 2012)

"Libraries that support advanced classes in theology will find this a worthwhile addition. Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above." (Choice, 1 May 2011)

"Engagingly written and infused with scholarly sophistication. In Adam's Fall offers refreshingly original insghts into the contemporary relevance of a doctrine of Christian teaching that has inspired fierce debate for over 1,500 years." (Zentrum für Augustinus-Forschung, 2011)

"While unapologetically academic in style, I found this to be most engagingly written and there are few academic books over recent years that have brought me as much pleasure and provoked my thinking to such a degree." (Regent's Reviews, 1 April 2011)


"A must read for anyone who thinks seriously about questions of sin and what it means to be human. McFarland deftly explores historical theological texts and contemporary scientific theory to paint a picture of human beings as creatures whose identity is rooted in an essential unity and thus a common destiny ... This book will be a classic which will find a place in classes about doctrine, theological anthropology and theology classes more generally."
Stephen G. Ray Jr, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

"Historically sensitive and dogmatically astute, this book offers a persuasive commendation of an element of Christian doctrine which has become increasingly strange in modern theology." In Adam’s Fall is a work of rare theological and spiritual penetration.’
John Webster, King’s College, Aberdeen

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (October 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405183659
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405183659
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,159,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian A. McFarland is a Lutheran theologian who was born, raised, and educated (mostly) in southern New England. From 1998-2005 he taught in the School of Divinity at the University of Aberdeen, from which he moved to his present post at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. He lives in Decatur with his wife, two daughters, and their dog. In addition to working with seminarians, he teaches middle school Sunday School at St. John's Lutheran Church, Atlanta, where he also serves on the church council. His current research is focused on the doctrine of Christ's person.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dean Dough on November 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It's a shame that this book is priced out of reach for most readers; it is neither easy, enjoyable, nor correct in its conclusions, but it is important. If I had to pick one book that displayed most clearly the indefensibility of orthodox Christianity, I would be hard-pressed to find a better. For that reason alone it should have a wider audience. How does the author, a committed Christian, a well-trained professional theologian, and no slouch as a thinker, accomplish this task despite his best efforts to the contrary? I present the evidence in detail in a series of critical blog posts that can be located easily by searching for the title of this book using any standard web search tool. Here I'll give the five-cent version. In a nutshell, the author's argument is that all human beings are sinners from birth, this congenital condition is the source of all concrete sinful actions human beings commit over the course of their lives, and so much so that everything humans being do without the grace of God is sinful in one way or another. How is it that we are sinners? First, we need to understand that we have a "will," that part of human nature by which everything we do is done freely, as an expression of our desires, because the "will" always follows desire. That means everything we do is done willingly, even things that are not under our conscious control. Second, we need to recognize that our desires are distorted. God intends for us to desire and love him above all else, but from birth our desires are primarily oriented toward created things. These distorted desires are partly a result of our "damaged" human nature, with which human beings have always been born, so far as we can tell from evolutionary history.Read more ›
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3 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nebridius on December 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
McFarland offers a critical and constructive engagement with theological anthropology and harmatology. I expected more from the subtitle, though. I expected there to be more originality in his sin. Lord knows I've spent loads of time contemplating new types of sin. And I really want to do something original, something that's never been done before, something that will totally redefine the genre. But between Caligula and Manson, pretty much everything's been covered. I've recently bought some sparklers, a ten-pack of tube-socks, a cabin air filter for a '92 Ford Fiesta, and a cotton candy machine. Maybe I can come up with something original to do with those. One thing's for sure: this book didn't have any good ideas!
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In Adam's Fall: A Meditation on the Christian Doctrine of Original Sin
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