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Seven Deadly Sinsby Aviad Kleinberg
Synopses & Reviews
There is no society without right and wrong. There is no society without sin. But every culture has its own favorite list of trespasses. Perhaps the most influential of these was drawn up by the Church in late antiquity: the Seven Deadly Sins. Pride, sloth, gluttony, envy, anger, lust, and greed are not forbidden acts but the passions that lead us into temptation. Aviad Kleinberg, one of the most prominent public intellectuals in Israel, examines the arts of sinning and of finger pointing. What is wrong with a little sloth? Where would haute cuisine be without gluttony? Where would we all be without our parentsandrsquo; lust? Has anger really gone out of style in the West? Can consumer culture survive without envy and greed? And with all humility, why shouldnandrsquo;t we be proud?
With intellectual insight and deadpan humor, Kleinberg deftly guides the reader through Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman thoughts on sin. Each chapter weaves the past into the present and examines unchanging human passions and the deep cultural shifts in the way we make sense of them. Seven Deadly Sins is a compassionate, original, and witty look at the stuff that makes us human.
"What's more sinful: angrily beating a child for no apparent reason, sleeping with a neighbor's wife or husband or eating all of the cheesecake so nobody else can have any? In his simplistic book, Tel Aviv University professor Kleinberg attempts a very partial answer to this question. He acknowledges that there is no sin without context, so that while child abuse may not be a wrong in one culture, it is horribly wrong in another. Using the Catholic Church's list of the seven deadly sins as his foil, Kleinberg proceeds to show that sin is relative and that even the worst of sins can be excused or seen in different lights depending on circumstances. For example, he understands sloth as the tendency to avoid the daily struggle against evil and injustice, and he counsels avoiding such slothfulness. Ultimately dissatisfying, Kleinberg's unfocused reflections comprise a book without a mission, for it fails to be either a deep personal meditation on the subject or a thoughtful theological exploration of a subject much better covered by Oxford University's series on the seven deadly sins." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The Seven Sins is an intellectual gem that introduces the reader to a new world of ideas. It is a thought-provoking and passionate book. Kleinberg cites religious (Christian and Jewish) and non-religious texts. He widens our horizons and broadens our minds...Kleinberg's humor and learning invite the reader to a journey of self exploration and to a reexamination of the sources of evil.
"[A]n intellectual gem that introduces the reader to a new world of ideas. It is a thought-provoking and passionate book." Timeout (Israel)
"[A] learned, sometimes personal look at sloth, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, and pride....He explores each deadly sin with great care and thoughtfulness and from both historic and very personal perspectives." Booklist
"Kleinberg offers a hard-hitting treatment of the seven traditional capital sins....Recommended." Library Journal
The Seven Deadly Sins is a fascinating, amusing and highly readable book that offers a rethinking of our sins and passions through an examination of the Christian deadly sinssloth, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, anger and pride — to which Kleinberg adds an eighth, self-righteousness.
The strength of this book is the link between the historian-philosopher Kleinberg and the boy Aviad that appears repeatedly in the book. It offers a successful connection between theoretical issues and the life of concrete human beings in our day and age.
With intellectual insight and deadpan humor, Kleinberg deftly guides the reader through Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman thoughts on sin. Each chapter weaves the past into the present and examines unchanging human passions and the deep cultural shifts in the way we make sense of them.
About the Author
Aviad Kleinberg is Professor of History at Tel Aviv University and the author of Prophets in Their Own Country: Living Saints and the Making of Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages.
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