Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bernard Cooke

Second Advisor

John Sheets

Third Advisor

Thomas Caldwell

Fourth Advisor

William Kelly


The Christian understanding of the doctrine of original sin has undergone significant change in recent times. The purpose of this dissertation is to clarify the present situation of the problem with regard to original sin, and to explain some elements pointing toward a new approach to the question. One of the key elements which emerges is the basic unity of mankind in the community of redemption. An understanding of original sin depends directly upon the position taken with respect to this thesis. If the fundamental unity of mankind is understood to be the community of salvation, then it is possible to consider original sin, in principle and in fact, as the history of man's refusal of god's salvific love. This history of sin is intrinsically tied up with the origin and nature of man. If the basic unity of the human family is conceived to be a unity in nature, then original sin will be thought through in terms of a defect in nature attributed to the one from whom nature comes and by whom nature is harmed. To accomplish the purpose of clarifying the present situation of the problem with regard to original sin, the work of five contemporary theologians has been considered. They are: M._M. Labourdette, Stanislaus Lyonnet, Karl Rahner, Piet Schoonenberg and Reinhold Niebuhr. In each case the contributions of the theologian have been discussed in relationship to the thesis that the most basic unity of mankind is the community of redemption.



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