Adam Received Revelation From Christ
The Ancient Eden Covenant Was Christian, and Is Still Valid Today

Anthony Zimmerman
Updated June 2000
Not published
Reproduced with Permission

If it was our Primate Christ who mediated grace and revelation to our first ancestors, then no members of our Homo Sapiens race should be anonymous Christians. They should all be real Christians, even if they name themselves Shintoists or Buddhists, whatever. The original religious inheritance that all people on earth receive is Christian. The thrust of this writing is that Adam and Eve received their revelation and sanctifying grace from Christ, just as Mary also received the fulness of grace from Him in virtue of His anticipated merits.

This concept opposes not only the contention of some novel would-be-theologians who fancy that God gives His graces through various religious organizations without the mediation of Christ; it differs also from a traditional school of theologians who contend that the original grace given to Adam was a gratia Dei, provided directly by God without the mediation of Christ. They theorize that gratia Christi is given to mankind only after the Fall of Adam and Eve. They hold that Original Sin led God to make the decision that the Son of God should become Incarnate to redeem the fallen race.

The Church, I fervently believe, should proclaim without fear or apology that God calls all mankind with power and authority to obey Him because He initiated that call through our first human ancestors. It is God who globalized religion in the first place, and this initial catholic or world religion began with our primeval ancestors whom the Bible calls Adam and Eve. This world-spanning reality is too much neglected, I believe, in our over-polite and Milquetoast style of evangelization among member of so-called "Non-Christian" religions.

For it is true that God calls all peoples to adopt the religion that He first proposed to Adam and Eve, and I believe it is also true that Christ calls all to Himself with authority by our relationship to our first parents.

Vatican II describes how God indeed made Himself known to Adam, but says nothing whether God gave this primeval grace and revelation in view of the merits of Christ:

God, who creates and conserves all things by His Word (cf. Jn. 1:3), provides men with constant evidence of himself in created realities (cf. Rom. 1:19-20). And furthermore, wishing to open up the way to heavenly salvation, he manifested himself to our first parents from the very beginning. After the fall, he buoyed them up with the hope of salvation, by promising redemption (cf. Gen. 3:15); and he has never ceased to take care of the human race. For he wishes to give eternal life to all those who seek salvation by patience and well doing (cf. Rom. 2:6-7) (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, 3).

These words are now also in the Catechism, telling explicitly that God made an initial revelation to Adam and provided Him with grace, and that He has since then always continued to keep in salvific touch with mankind:

In the beginning God makes himself known

54"God, who creates and conserves all things by his Word, provides men with constant evidence of himself in created realities. And furthermore, wishing to open up the way to heavenly salvation, he manifested himself to our first parents from the very beginning. " He invited them to intimate communion with himself and clothed them with resplendent grace and justice.

55 This revelation was not broken off by our first parents' sin. "After the fall, [God] buoyed them up with the hope of salvation, by promising redemption; and he has never ceased to show his solicitude for the human race. For he wishes to give eternal life to all those who seek salvation by patience in well-doing."

Even when he disobeyed you and lost your friendship you did not abandon him to the power of death .... Again and again you offered a covenant to man.

Elsewhere I have suggested that the Eden events occurred not more than 400,000 years ago, nor less than 80,000. The two skulls of Homo Sapiens found by the Richard E. Leakey team near the river Omo in Ethiopia were situated in strata 130,000 years old (see Leakey page 91-92), but one cannot know whether these are pre-Adamites or post-Adamites (see my books Evolution and the Sin in Eden,and the Primeval Revelation in Myths and in Genesis). When we consider how our race has spread out over the globe, has acquired various languages, cultures, and phenotypes, we can conclude reasonably that considerable time has elapsed since the race began.

Briefly, I have proposed the theory that the supposed "Homo Habilis" who made the tools 2,500,000 years ago which were found in Ethiopia (Johanson-Edey page 231) was not yet our Adam and Eve. Neither was Homo Erectus, of whom a 1,600,000 year old fossil was discovered, also by the Richard E. Leakey team, on the shore of Lake Turkana (National Geographic November 1985). Not was Peking Man of 500,000 years ago, or Neanderthal, or any other hominid our own Adam and Eve.

Our ancestors must have been Homo Sapiens people. The lynchpin and fulcrum for this reasoning is that only the more recent Homo Sapiens has the type of speech organs which, I believe, were an essential part of the equipment of the biblical Adam and Eve who committed Original Sin. With adequate speaking ability they were able to handle speech sufficiently well to receive revelation from God concerning their elevation to grace, and their destination in heaven, to understand this revelation adequately, and to explain it in turn to their offspring. Normal adult human capacity to think and to speak is an essential condition for them to understand of the "Ten Commandments of Eden," and therefore to be held responsible by God for the commission of Original Sin. All this is discussed at length in the books mentioned above. In brief, Homo Sapiens was the first among the hominids who could have possessed our type of speech organs (see Lieberman 257-329). Our type of versatile speech organs do not fit into the morphology of the skull and basicranium of other hominids.

And why do we say that the original revelation made to our first ancestors was Christian, mediated by Christ? We enter here into the celebrated controversy of the centuries, "Cur Deus Homo?". "If Christ had not sinned, the Son of Man would not have come" wrote St. Augustine (De Verb. Apost. 8,2). At first sight that is also what prompts the church to sing on Holy Saturday night: "O felix culpa, quae talem et tantum meruit habere Redemtorem!" (0 happy fault, to merit a Redeemer so great, so splendid!). But it is to be noted that the Church marvels at the Redeemer, not at the fault. And St. Augustine elsewhere speaks of other reasons for the Incarnation besides the sin of Adam.

St. Thomas leans toward the opinion of St. Augustine, saying that the Scriptures seem to indicate this, but he is not entirely certain about the question:

I answer that there are different opinions about this question. For some say that even if man had not sinned, the Son of Man would have become incarnate. Others assert the contrary, and seemingly our assent ought rather to be given to this opinion ... Since everywhere in the Sacred Scripture the sin of the first man is assigned as the reason for the Incarnation, it is more in accordance with this to say that the work of the Incarnation was ordained by God as a remedy for sin; so that, had sin not existed, the Incarnation would not have been. And yet the power of God is not limited to this; - even had sin not existed, God could have become incarnate (ST III,1,3).

St. Anselm (d. 1109) set the stage for those who focus on sin as the motive for the Incarnation and Redemption. After man sinned the Incarnation became absolutely necessary, he thought, if God was to save man. A simple forgiveness of sin made by God without a previous satisfaction in a just manner is not conceivable, is not possible from God's viewpoint, he maintained. That would be equivalent to placing justice and injustice on the same level. It was necessary that God's justice first be satisfied before He could forgive sin. God, therefore. decreed the Incarnation and Redemption in response to man's sin. Fr. Francis Xavier Pancheri summarizes the thoughts of St. Anselm on this subject as follows:

Who can make satisfaction for sin? Not man, because "it is impossible for a sinner to satisfy for a sinner (Cur Deus Homo I. c. 23) ... From the above it follows that the dramatic situation comes down to this: only God can supply adequate reparation. And yet, since the human race is guilty, it cannot remain extraneous to the reparation. God, as God, cannot make satisfaction to Himself; that would be pure fiction. It is necessary, therefore, to have a God-Man, Jesus Christ, so as to render possible a true satisfaction which is in harmony with all the demands involved (Pancheri 16-17).

Fr. Pancheri believes that St. Anselm's concepts about justice and satisfaction are dated by Germanic ideas prevalent during his time. Moreover the just retribution due after sin loomed so overwhelmingly in his thinking that other reasons for the Incarnation besides satisfying for sin, reasons which had been expressed admirably by Greek Fathers, were practically eclipsed and not considered:

Latin juridicism, already present in Tertullian and St. Augustine, acquires in Anselm an absolute importance and is colored by Germanic justice, according to which an offended nobleman had to demand an adequate satisfaction, not from just anybody, but from one of his peers (Pancheri 17).

In old Japan a somewhat similar code of justice was once in vogue; if a nobleman died at the hands of an enemy, the heir had to track down the assassin and kill him, else he could not return to his native place with honor. Shall we really believe that God feels Himself bound by such exaggerated human codes of justice, and so be unable to forgive sins of humans without exacting the penalty of death from His Son? Blessed John Duns Scotus (d. 1308) sought a more profound meaning in the Incarnation.


Scotus began with the vocation of Christ as Primate, as Head of the human race, as the center of all creation, for whom all things exist. God did not pre-vision the universe without previously pre-visioning Christ. Christ, then, was from the beginning the exemplar, the executor, and the final cause of all creation. In God's thoughts, Christ is first. It is in dialogue with Christ as Architect that God then molded creation. In Him all things came into being. That man sinned

and required redemption is incidental to the positive and pre-visioned plan of God to have Christ to be our Primate. In the view of Scotus, then, Christ is seen as the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end; if this Beginning and End had not been pre-visioned and decreed, then nothing at all would have come into existence.

Scotus, therefore, insists that Christ's Incarnation is willed by God prior to the pre-vision of Adam's sin (cf. Pancheri 38). He makes the salty observation that if the Incarnation had not occurred unless Adam sinned, then "Christ should have rejoiced over Adam's prevarication, since He would have owed His existence to it" (Pancheri 39). But it would be humiliating for Christ to have to stand by and wait for Adam to do his sin before Christ could proceed to become the Incarnate God. In following pages I will endeavor to show why we should believe that Christ's Incarnation was decreed independently of the sin of Adam, and to indicate the profound significance which this has for all of humankind today.


When we use the term Adam we mean our first ancestors, as Pope John Paul explained:

Our first parents (the Decree of Trent says: Primum hominem Adam), in the earthly paradise (and therefore in the state of original justice and perfection) sinned gravely by transgressing the commandment of God (Catechesis 24 September 1986).

If Adam's original revelation and grace were given without the mediatorship of Christ, then, of course, Adam would not be indebted to Christ originally, nor related to Him as yet. This makes the original Adam an island of salvation history, not connected with the mainland on which we now live. Such a dubious concept helps to explain, perhaps, why theologians in past centuries painted Eden as a land of the never never, a Cinderella paradise, a miracle construct in which God is pictured surrounding Adam with care and solicitude, keeping harm from him by miracles, and awaiting the day when, after a simple trial, God will give him a gratuitous reward in heaven. There should be no sufferings for innocent Adam in this construct of the theologians:

As Adam had not merited grace, so he was not to have purchased the state of glory by suffering and death. God exacted of him no true sacrifice as the price of glory. Although the painless manifestation of tender love for God could avail as merit for glory, still for Adam heaven was given rather than bought, since it cost him nothing (Scheeben 455).

(We must hasten to explain, however, that Scheeben defends the main thesis of Scotus, and explains luminously why we should believe that Christ was decreed independently of the sin of Adam.)

But Adam sinned, and then Christ finally came into God's plans as an "afterthought" to the sin, according to the theory of a two-phase salvation history. These theologians would make the original grace and revelation given to Adam to be without reference to Christ and without Christ as Mediator. As they theorize, it was because of Adam's sin that the Incarnation was subsequently planned and decreed. It may remind us of a railway switching yard: Adam is first coupled to the engine of God and is pulled along by God's power. Then, because of sin, Adam is unhitched from the engine of God, and backed up now to be coupled with the engine of Christ. Genesis 3:15 might then be cited as the harbinger of the new order of grace, the first beginning of the Christian Salvation History.

Consistency in the theory about a two-phase salvation history would postulate that its defenders must regard the original revelation given to Adam as a kind of throw-away package, designed for Adam by God on condition that he would not sin. When Adam sinned, it was time to throw away the outdated package, and bring out a new one. Or we might think of a Hollywood street scene, with false store fronts, set up for the run of a movie, to be carted away when the brief run is finished. So also the original revelation would be discarded after the brief run it had in Paradise. That first revelation would become so profoundly altered by the intrusion now of plans for Christ, that it would have lost significance after Adam lost original holiness and justice. At any rate, the Thomist School denies that the grace of innocent Adam was a grace from Christ: The Thomist School unanimously denies that the elevation of our first parents to the supernatural life was due to the merits of Christ. The majority of its representatives, guided more by the logic of the system than by the authority of the Master [St. Thomas] and of Tradition, equally refuse to attribute the grace and glory of the angels to the merits of Christ (Bonnefoy, see Pancheri 69).

But if the grace of innocent Adam was not from Christ, then neither was Christ the one who gave the pre-Fall revelation, as noted above, so we can picture God taking Adam aside after the Fall and explaining apologetically: "About those talks we were having before your Fall, the revelation I gave you - forget it. All that is a has been now. It is finished, a dead end. From now on you are under a new management, namely Christ. Your grace and revelation come now from Him, because after your sin We decreed a new relationship between God and humans, namely one mediated by Christ Incarnate. The other view, namely that God willed all things in Christ from the beginning of creation, including Adam and his original holiness and justice, appears to me to be more biblical and more theologically consistent. The "two systems of salvation" theory appears less translucent than the explanation that Adam was from the beginning under the aegis of Christ. The two system theory of Thomists makes the Eden events seem to be a vain attempt by God for a plan now flawed and so discarded. It implies that the plan was abandoned by God because the devil played his tricks well, and man fell temporarily for his lies. And so God would just as soon forget about the whole thing, including the revelation given to Adam before the Fall, for this revelation would no longer be relevant after the Decree of the Incarnation was initiated in response to Adam's sin. These considerations make the "two system salvation" plan manifestly dubious, so it appears to me. I prefer to believe that the primeval revelation once given to Adam, was made for all times and all places, and that the Decree of the Incarnation is already in it.


Christ's mission is not narrowly confined to making reparation for sins. As Primate, He leads us and supports us with the supernatural power of grace to become an elevated people, to become adopted children of God and heirs of heaven. He must be equal to the task of Primate and Redeemer from the very beginning. Actually, the two tasks are one. As Primate, He supports our freedom; as Redeemer, He makes up for our abuse of it. In no other way could God plan from the beginning to make man free, to give him complete freedom of choice, that most precious gift so extolled by Vatican II:

But that which is truly freedom is an exceptional sign of the image of God in man. For God willed that man should "be left in the hand of his own counsel" (cf. Eccl 15:14) so that he might of his own accord seek his creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him. Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint (GS 17).

If we take the view of Scotus that Christ is first in creation, and that Adam with all other creatures are dependent on Christ; and if we believe that it was Christ who also chose us for creation in Himself, then we can understand better what Paul means when he writes; God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do (Eph 2:10)).

Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is he first-born Son, superior to all created things. For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers and authorities. God created the whole universe through him and for him. Christ existed before all things, and in union with him all things have their proper place (Col 1:15-17).

Scotus summed it up in his famous lapidary formula which reads: "God first loves Himself; secondly, He loves Himself for others, and this is an ordered love; thirdly, He wishes to be loved by the One who can love Him in the highest way - speaking of the love of someone who is extrinsic to Him; and fourthly, He foresees the union of that nature which must love Him with the greatest love even if no one had fallen" (Opus Par. III,d.7,q.4; see Pancheri 35).

This formula makes us to be created for and in Christ, not the other way around; Christ did not become man because we needed Him; rather, God willed Christ first and foremost, and Christ, in turn, willed us to participate with Him in giving glory to God.

Pope John Paul II did a remarkable thing, I believe, when he interjected Christ's name into a passage of St. Paul, to indicate that we were created in Christ before the world began: "God chose us in him" - in Christ - "before the - world began, to be holy and blameless in his sight, to be full of love" (Eph 1:4; Address to the Bishops of the United States, Los Angeles, 16 September 1987).

The same Pope had previously asserted categorically that it was from the beginning) that God intended to have the Son become incarnate; the passage agrees with those who hold that the Incarnation was decreed before the pre-vision of sin: God loved the world so much that, from the beginning, he intended through the human nature of Jesus his beloved Son to enter into union with all humanity... The mystery of creation, then, is part of our celebration today on this feast of Christ the King, for Christ is also the Lord of heaven and earth ... (Homily, Athletic Park of Wellington, November 23, 1986).

The view of pioneer theologian St. Irenaeus (125-202) is in full accord with the thought that the cosmos was made for Christ, not Christ for the cosmos. Even more, Irenaeus has God creating Adam in order to pave the way for Christ's coming, in a remarkable passage of his book Against Heretics. Allow me to quote from Chapter 12 of the book Evolution and the sin in Eden:

1, 2