Although Meghan Duke has already posted accurate praise for Bruce D. Marshalls review , in the current FT, of Gary Andersons book Sin: A History , I want to say a bit more about the review from my own standpoint as a theology buff.
Anderson does not strive, and Marshall does not call, for a panoramic overview of the history of sin. Any such attempt would depressing as well as futile, and depressing partly because it would be futile. Rather, Prof. Marshall suggests, the history highlighted here is that of how ancient Judaism and early Christianity presented sin as the incurring of debt, and salvation as the discharge of that debt through both faith and the works necessarily arising from faith. Whats revealed by that history is how inextricably the interlocking metaphors of debt, repayment, and the forgiveness of debt are woven into what theologians like to call the sources of revelation, aka “Scripture” and “Tradition,” which are really the sources by which divine revelation is transmitted to us.
Given my own theological preoccupations, I especially like Anderson’s apparent emphasis on the continuity between Second-Temple Judaism and early Christianity on this point. And juxtaposing that theme with the main theses of N.T. Wright’s recent, controversial book Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision would open still wider theological vistas. I havent yet read Anderson’s book, but the review has convinced me that I, and anybody whos interested, could richly benefit from doing so.
We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.
Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on firstthings.com.
Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.
Will you give today?