Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 12. The Development of Catholic Theology in Conflict with Heresy” Sections 137-158, Loc. 18758-20235.
§ 143. Man and the Fall.
Concerning the sinful fallen state of the world, Schaff notes, “It was the universal faith of the church that man was made in the image of God, pure and holy, and fell by his own guilt and the temptation of Satan who himself fell from his original state. But the extent of sin and the consequences of the fall were not fully discussed before the Pelagian controversy in the fifth century” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19283). “The origin of the human soul” was another issue that did not receive very extensive discussion. Schaff introduces three theories.
“Tertullian is the author of traducianism, which derives soul and body from the parents through the process of generation” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 129286). His assumption was that part of the nature of humans was that their reproduction included production of a soul.
Aristotle’s view, adopted by many in the East and by Jerome and occasionally Augustine, “traces the origin of each individual soul to a direct agency of God and assumes a subsequent corruption of the soul by its contact with the body, but destroys the organic unity of soul and body, and derives sin from the material part” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19290). Schaff notes there has been no church-wide response to this theory.
Origen, following Plato and Philo, argued for pre-existence. “It assumes the pre-historic existence and fall of every human being, and thus accounts for original sin and individual guilt; but as it has no support in scripture or human consciousness...it was condemned under Justinian, as one of the Origenistic heresies” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19297).
Christianity insisted on man’s need for redemption and his capacity for the same. The Greek fathers emphasized the free will, which asserted the capacity for salvation. The West emphasized our need for redemption and our inability to save ourselves (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19305). Schaff notes both emphases remain and neitehr group has generally been able to persuade the others.