By Professor Ronald Paulson
The confusion of sin and evil, or non secular and ethical transgression, is the topic of Ronald Paulson’s newest e-book. He calls recognition to the real contrast among sin and Evil (with a capital E) that during our occasions is essentially overlooked, and to the additional confusion brought on by the time period “moral values.” Ranging largely during the background of Western literature, Paulson focuses rather on American and English works of the eighteenth via 20th centuries to find how questions of evil and sin—and evil and sinful behavior—have been mentioned and represented.The breadth of Paulson’s dialogue is big, taking the reader from Greek and Roman tragedy, to Christian satire within the paintings of quick and Hogarth, to Hawthorne’s and Melville’s novels, and eventually to twentieth-century reports of excellent and evil by means of such authors as James, Conrad, Faulkner, Greene, Heller, Vonnegut, and O’Brien. the place does evil come from? What are “moral values”? If evil is a cultural build, what does that suggest? Paulson’s literary travel of sin and evil during the last 200 years offers not just a old viewpoint but additionally new methods of considering vital concerns that signify our personal period of violence, intolerance, and warfare. (20080301)
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Additional resources for Sin and Evil: Moral Values in Literature
Evils are imposed usually downward as the consequence of sin, primarily of the upward- directed treason. The worst evildoer in the Torah, according to the rabbinical scholars, was Amalek, who fought the Israelite army by killing the weak and exhausted stragglers (Exod. 17:8–16; Deut. 25:17–18). There are, of course, instances of the powerless killing the powerful, but the sense of “evil” does not as often adhere; part of the evil seems to include the idea of power exerted on the powerless—the reverse is a turning of tables which, in some cases, could be regarded as justice—until, of course, the excess carries wrongdoing by humiliation and torture to the level of undeniable evil.
Around the time of Christ, however, he began to recover his dualist roots, becoming God’s antagonist, his enemy, even his rival, introduced by such splinter groups as the Essenes into tales of the sons of light battling 18 E V I L , S I N , A N D WR O N G D O I N G the sons of darkness. People are now accused of having been seduced by the power of evil, whom they name—Satan, Beelzebub, Semihazah, Azazel, Belial, and the Prince of Darkness; in other words, they are turning to, sinning with, false gods.
His was incidentally an 34 C L A S S I C A L A N D C H R ISTIAN EQUIVALENTS 35 act of filicide, but first an act of impiety, testing the gods to see whether they can tell the difference between celestial and human meat, trying to bring them down to the level of humans. The result is the gods’ curse on the House of Atreus. Pelops then, resurrected with the exception of the shoulder eaten by Demeter, grows up to cheat and kill King Oenomaus, his prospective father-in-law, in a chariot race; and he kills his accomplice, the king’s driver, who had removed the chariot’s linchpin, which caused the death: a crime and another reason for, or an extension of, the curse on the house of Atreus.