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Sin: A History Paperback – August 31, 2010
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"This slender volume, bearing the author''s wide learning with a rare grace, addresses a significant question in Jewish and Christian thought, one with far-reaching implications for theology, ethics, and the church''s work. . . . [Anderson''s] work offers a learned, and in many ways spiritually liberating, alternative to both evangelical and liberal views of sin and justification while taking human obligation seriously."--Gary A./i>--Gary A. Anderson "Restoration Quarterly "
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It is a rare scholar who blends cutting edge biblical scholarship with extensive knowledge of Jewish and church history. Anderson's book combines academic acumen, carefully executed methodology, and clear writing. The result is an innovative book on one of the oldest topics in the history of Judeo-Christian thought.
What struck me as strange is that a book supposedly about different conceptions of sin in history should cover so few of those conceptions. Anderson gets the concept of sin as 'weight' out of the way in the first 25 pages, and then proceeds to focus almost solely on the metaphor of sin as debt for the remainder of the book, which appears to be his preferred concept. Perhaps the book would be more accurately titled "Sin as Debt"? Particularly missing was any discussion of sin as a 'power' from which we are 'freed', an idea that is particularly relevant to the letters of Paul. In fact, references to the New Testament in general were remarkably scarce, with the Lord's Prayer being almost the only point of New Testament discussion. I would also have liked to see more discussion of the Old Testament conception of sin being 'washed' or 'cleansed'.Read more ›
The initial chapters of the book come off as somewhat repetitive, as Anderson builds his arguments in short sections and then feels to the need to summarize them again only a few paragraphs later. As I continued to read, this problem became less apparent as he expanded the lexicon of ideas and managed to raise my level of interest. I cannot recall exactly when it clicked for me, but maybe a third of the way into the book I realized that Anderson is primarily concerned with linguistics. Theology is only secondary to him, and in fact he understands theology via language and its interpretation through translation. This is not a criticism per se, but it was unexpected. With this in mind, Anderson's arguments can be better appreciated.
Some parts are more interesting than others. His examination of the interpolations into Leviticus and the importance of the Sabbatical years is of some interest but wears thin. His attempt to parse the meaning of some very similar phrases in Daniel ("when the transgressions have reached their full measure" and "to finish the transgression") seems forced.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A caveat: This is one of the only times in my life I’ve put a book back on the shelf before finishing it. I gave up at page 51. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Rick J. Strassman
Unfortunately, I can only give one star to Professor Anderson's book because it is not an original nor thorough and fair presentation. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Dennis
If you've grown up in the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, this book will blow your mind. It is amazing to think of something like sin, an eternal concept, as having changed... Read morePublished on August 1, 2011 by John-Michael Torres
Anderson's book does not attempt to define sin as any sort of transgression of God's commandments. He writes rather in order to describe sin as "debt" (hob 135) and how that debt... Read morePublished on July 11, 2011 by William S. Downer
Anderson offers an elegant and clear exposition of a particular academic thesis, namely, that the idea of "sin" is linked to the metaphor of sin as "debt. Read morePublished on September 8, 2010 by Dean Miller