What were the lives of Adam and Eve like in the Garden of Eden?

[This post continues my discussion of why Aquinas holds there was no private property in Paradise. Other topics in the series include in order: 1. No property in Paradise, 2. Life in Paradise, 3. No Labor in Paradise,  4. Sexuality and Procreation in Paradise, 5. The Children of Adam and Eve, 6. Were Adam and Eve Vegetarians?  7. No Equality in Paradise, 8. Subjection and Government in Paradise, 9. Private Property, the Result of Sin, 10. Aquinas’s Analogy: Clothing, Slavery and Private Property. Or download the full essay here: No Property in Paradise: How Aquinas Understands the Origin of Private Property]


Human life in Paradise was not as we know it today. Both human nature and the conditions of life were different in fundamental ways. Aquinas refers to this period as “the state of innocence,” “the primitive state of life,” and contrasts this period with “we in our present state” and “the present state of unhappiness.”1)See, ST Ia, 94, iv, 2132, ST Ia, 94, ii,  ST II-II, 164, ii

Aquinas assumes that Paradise was both a physical and a spiritual place. It was located somewhere in the East, possibly near the equator, though its exact location is unknown because it is surrounded by mountains or other physical barriers that make its discovery impossible. Its climate is perfectly tailored to the lives of the immortal beings who lived there.2)ST 1a 102, i and 1a 102, i, ad. 3

Before their sin, the parents of the human race were immortal and would not die. The soul was naturally immortal, but the body, which humans shared with other creatures, was naturally “corruptible.” This natural “defect” of all corporeal bodies was eliminated in Paradise and did not return until after the first sin and loss of divine favor.

In other respects, however, human bodies were not exempt from the natural qualities of living animal or plant bodies “in the operations of which are the use of food, generation, and growth. Wherefore such operations befitted man in the state of innocence.”3)ST Ia 96,iv; Ia, 97, iii;  this contrasts with what happens after resurrection. The first couple’s immortality originated in a supernatural force given as a gift by God to the soul which protected the human body from all corruption, for as long as the soul remained subject to God and did not sin.4)ST Ia, 97, i,; Ia, 97, ii,  ad. 2 Thus, in Paradise, Adam and Eve were protected from death and aging, which were otherwise natural. After they sin, they lose this divine protection and become subject to aging and death and thus are returned to the natural state of the corruptible body.

While Aquinas attributes human immortality to this divine gift, he also identifies other factors as protecting human beings from the aging and death. Under natural circumstances, death is caused by external factors and internal causes (e.g., aging, disease, accidents). In Paradise, the first couple was able to avoid injury and death by “hard objects” (i.e., natural accidents) because reason helped them to anticipate and avoid dangers and because “Divine Providence, so preserving him, that nothing of a harmful nature could come upon him unawares.”5)ST Ia, 97, ii, ad. 4 Furthermore, Paradise itself had a climate that was specifically fit for an immortal being. With a temperate climate, possibly because it is near the equator, Paradise physically protected Adam and Eve’s bodies from external degradation and aging.6)ST Ia 102, ii, ad. 4

Next up: No Labor in Paradise

References   [ + ]

1.See, ST Ia, 94, iv, 2132, ST Ia, 94, ii,  ST II-II, 164, ii
2.ST 1a 102, i and 1a 102, i, ad. 3
3.ST Ia 96,iv; Ia, 97, iii;  this contrasts with what happens after resurrection.
4.ST Ia, 97, i,; Ia, 97, ii,  ad. 2
5.ST Ia, 97, ii, ad. 4
6.ST Ia 102, ii, ad. 4

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