The story of the Garden of Eden presents us with the failings of mankind portrayed in an allegory. 'Adam' simply means 'man' and is derived from the Hebrew 'ha adamah' which means 'the ground' or 'the earth.' 'Eve' simply means 'living one' or 'source of life.'
Paul emphasises that although made from the same 'earth,' there is a vast gulf separating the 'first Adam,' who embodied all the faults of 'earthiness,' and between the 'last Adam,' Jesus, who embodied all the virtues required by God.
Because blood symbolised 'life,' and we have new 'life' in Jesus, Paul depicts Jesus as corporately 'atoning' once only for the sins of Adam and Eve - humanity in general - and purging them with redeeming blood. As well as humanity in general, this once only atonement referred to the failures of corporate entities such as the Law of Moses and the Priesthood. We might say that the slate was wiped clean at the time of the crucifixion.
What is not generally understood is the ritual blood sacrifices of the Mosaic Law atoned only for sins committed in ignorance. We see this confirmed for us in Hebrews 9:7 -
"...but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance."
The Hebrew Scriptures consistently warned that there was no vicarious atonement for intentional individual sin -
"And when you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you: when you make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow..." (Isaiah 1:15-17)
"Atone for your sins with righteousness, and your iniquities with mercy to the oppressed, so that your prosperity may be prolonged." (Daniel 4:27)
"And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said to the people, You have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up to YHVH; peradventure I shall make atonement for your sin. And Moses returned to YHVH, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if you will forgive their sin, and if not, blot me, I pray you, out of your book which you have written.
And YHVH said to Moses, Whosoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." (Exodus 32:30-33)
Moses' request was denied on the basis that he could not suffer vicariously for intentional individual sin.
"But everyone will die for his own sin..." (Jeremiah 31:30).
"No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him" (Psalms 49:7).
"The person who sins will die..." (Ezekiel 18:20).
"...everyone shall be put to death for his own sin." (Deuteronomy 24:16, II Kings 14:6).
By the time of Jesus, however, these many warnings had fallen on deaf ears and he found it necessary to issue another warning. That he did not see himself as vicariously 'atoning' for another individual's intentional sin is amply demonstrated in John 15:22.
"If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin."
Henceforth, in the New Creation of Life brought into existence by Jesus, there would be no more 'cover' for sin that the Mosaic Law had been seen to provide. Each and every individual was responsible before God for their own behaviour.
According to the Bible, the only way it has ever been possible for an individual to atone for intentional personal sin is through prayer and repentance, followed by good works. This concept is befitting of the God of justice, wisdom, and impartiality.
What does not reflect the wisdom, justice and impartiality of God, however, is the claim that only a divinity can atone for the sins of humanity. The prime message of the New Testament is obscured, twisted and robbed of meaning by this claim.
Only a normal man fashioned after the first Adam, subject to all the weaknesses and temptations of Adam, can possibly atone for the sins of Adam. Hence Jesus is referred to as the 'last Adam.'
Henceforth, it would be possible for all those who share the values of Jesus, the commitment of Jesus, and the integrity in adversity of Jesus, to follow in his footsteps and spiritually share in his death and resurrection by putting to death the old physical Adam and resurrecting the new spiritual man, 'begotten' of God and fashioned after God's own image, the intent of Creation.