Original Sin


I would like to know what is the orthodox canon regarding the “original sin.” The following confuse me:

Father Michael Azkoul states that God punished man only once for the original sin by introducing death, and the original sin wasn’t transferred to the next generations.

He says (on the OCF website): “The Church does not accept the idea that the Mother of God was born with the (inherited) guilt of Adam; no one is ...”

On the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto’s page there is a totally different statement:
“Worst of all, original sin is hereditary. It did not remain only Adam and Eve’s.”


Concerning the original—or “first”—sin, that commited by Adam and Eve, Orthodoxy believes that, while everyone bears the consequences of the first sin, the foremost of which is death, only Adam and Eve are guilty of that sin. Roman Catholicism teaches that everyone bears not only the consequence, but also the guilt, of that sin. In the article by Fr. Azkoul, he deals with this quite clearly in the sections above the quote which you sent in your email. There is nothing wrong with his statement.

Concerning the second passage—from the Toronto Metropolis’ web site—it would probably have been clearer to the reader had the sentence read as follows: “Worst of all, the consequences of the original sin are hereditary. It did not remain only Adam and Eve’s.” I am not sure that there is any conflict whatsoever; rather, the second passage needs to be clarified.

Finally, the “Orthodox canons” are not statements of doctrine; rather, they are the “canon laws” drafted by the early Church councils. Canons deal with Church discipline and order, not with doctrine. They are found in the proceedings of the seven ecumenical councils and the local councils of the early Church. If by asking “if the Orthodox canons are published and available for purchase” you refer to Canon Law, please let me know, and I will direct you to places where you can purchase them. If you are interested in doctrinal material, however, collections of canons would not contain the fundamental teachings of the faith.


Thank you for your answer, Father.

I was somehow confused by the statement in the Toronto orthodox page. I also misused the term “canons” when I was actually referring to Orthodox doctrine. Could you please make recommendations on what should I read and where to purchase books on Orthodox doctrine.


Thanks for your email. Glad my last answer cleared a few things up.

Concerning materials on Orthodox doctrine, you need not look further than the OCA web site at http://www.oca.org. Follow the links to The Orthodox Faith and you will find that the four-volume set of books by Fr. Hopko are on-line. They deal with:

Bible and Church History
Currently the first two of these volumes are online, and the rest are expected to be online soon. With these you will find a great deal of information to get you started.

The web sites of the Greek and Antiochian Archdioceses—www.goarch.org and http://www.antiochian.xn—orgalso-416c have a wealth of resources.

You may also wish to follow the links on the OCA web site to the Orthodox Christian Publications Center. You may request a catalog from them, and you can purchase the four-volume set referred to above as well.

Further, you may also wish to contact St Vladimir Seminary Bookstore—the seminary’s web site is http://www.svots.xn—eduwhere-3n3d you will be able to on-line soon. The St Vladimir’s website also has a number of articles by various members of the theological faculty