This bit by Alastair Reynolds is an excellent summary of the position to which I have slowly come over the last few years of reflection on the question of physical death before the Fall. It shows the influence of patristic thought in the best way possible, and also demonstrates a great handle on the bigger picture of salvation history in the whole of the canon.
A few salient quotes. First, on moral and physical perfection:
Perfection was not the creation’s natural state, but its intended destiny (and salvation is not a ‘rebooting’ of creation to its primary state, but the restoring of creation to the future that God originally intended for it)….
With perfection, our wills will be so capable of apprehending our good that we will no longer be capable of willing to do evil, not by virtue of some external compulsion, but by virtue of mature wills and natures and their appropriate mutual correspondence.
And then from the conclusion, which I positively loved:
First, Christ’s obedience is not about ‘innocence’ but about ‘perfection’. Christ brings humanity to the height and fullness of its divinely intended moral stature. He gives us, not merely innocence or obedience, but full maturity.
Second, humanity was always intended to die and rise again to a more glorious form of life. Christ death and resurrection achieves this destiny.
Third, as the last Adam, Christ will pacify and tame the entire creation, ruling until every enemy is placed under his feet.
Fourth, as we are in Christ, the bad character of death is minimized. We are not unclothed to be left naked, but in order to be more fully clothed, to have death swallowed up in life. We are still subject to the hostile attacks of the world and to the possibility of death within it, but Christ is the Tree of Life and we have unrestricted access to him. Death is no longer the alienating power that it once was.
This is a great read, start to finish. “Death Before the Fall”