4.) Paul, Genesis 3 & The Early Christians:
In the early years of the Christian movement, there were three distinct belief systems, each with its own interpretation of Genesis 3:
The Jewish Christians, centered in Jerusalem, were the first Christian group, founded by the followers of Jesus. They considered Paul to be a heretic.
Little is known about their specific beliefs. However, they apparently followed the Jewish traditions and beliefs - one of which did not place a great deal of emphasis on Genesis 3. The Jewish Christians were later killed, scattered, and exiled by the Roman Army during two uprisings in the first and second centuries CE.
Some Gnostic sects honored the snake of Genesis 3. They did not view the snake as a seducer who led the first couple into sinful behavior. Rather, they saw him/it as a liberator who brought knowledge to Adam and Eve by convincing them to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and thus to become fully human by achieving something that they did not have when they were created: a moral sense.
Magically, by eating the fruit, they realized for the first time the difference between good and evil. The Gnostics were attacked by the Pauline Christians in one of the first Christian genocides and essentially wiped out by the mainline Christian church.
The Pauline Christians derived most of their theological beliefs from the Pauline Epistles and the Gospel of John. To them, Genesis 3 was of paramount importance. They saw in the passage the reasons for "humanity's corrupt nature and desperate existential situation."
Paul used the chapter to derive his concept of sin. Later, Augustine used it to develop his idea of original sin - the belief that all of the generations of Adam and Eve's descendents (including ourselves) have inherited the sinful behavior of the first human couple.
The Pauline Christians survived to evolve into modern Christianity.