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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.
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 ›
I had hoped for a treatment of “sin” from a Jewish and Christian vantage point. For example: How do the Hebrew and Christian Bibles define sin? From where did sin arise and how does it arise now? What is the relationship between evil and sin? How do sins of omission differ from sins of commission? What was the nature of Adam’s, Eve’s, and the serpent’s sins—the very first sins? What is the relationship between sin and free will? Can a sin become meritorious in certain circumstances? Why does God allow sin to occur? What is the relationship between the body and sin? What is "original sin"?
These questions are not addressed. Instead, this book would be more accurately entitled: “Repaying the Debt Resulting from Sin” as it deals (at least up to page 51) solely with theories and practices of repentance and atonement. Anderson believes that the Hebrew Bible conceives of sin as a weight, then a debt, by various means of which may be repaid. But these notions don’t address the questions of what is sin and what is the history of the development of ideas about it.
There are three biblical Hebrew roots usually translated as “sin”: cheit, sh’gagah, and pesha (pardon my transliterations). I had hoped Anderson would discuss how these differ from each other.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 on July 7, 2014 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
To explore the different metaphors the Bible uses to talk about sin is a great idea. I read this book with fascination, and thoroughly enjoyed much of it. Read morePublished on July 4, 2011 by Andrew
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