I’ve been a fan of Gary Anderson ever sense my Old Testament professor Doug Green at Westminster introduced me to his writings via “The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Even in Jewish and Christian Imagination.” There are a few, not many, a few biblical scholars whose books I can honestly say have made me rethink and relearn how I read scripture and Anderson is one of them. I’m sure his latest book, “Sin: A history,” will offer new challenges. The thing I like about reading Anderson is that he always points to things I’ve never considered before in very familiar passages and stories. Not to say I don’t have disagreements, but even in those I leave rewarded by Andersons thoughts.
Here’s the publishers write up on it at Yale Press;
“What is sin? Is it simply wrongdoing? Why do its effects linger over time? In this sensitive, imaginative, and original work, Gary Anderson shows how changing conceptions of sin and forgiveness lay at the very heart of the biblical tradition. Spanning nearly two thousand years, the book brilliantly demonstrates how sin, once conceived of as a physical burden, becomes, over time, eclipsed by economic metaphors. Transformed from a weight that an individual carried, sin becomes a debt that must be repaid in order to be redeemed in God’s eyes.
Anderson shows how this ancient Jewish revolution in thought shaped the way the Christian church understood the death and resurrection of Jesus and eventually led to the development of various penitential disciplines, deeds of charity, and even papal indulgences. In so doing it reveals how these changing notions of sin provided a spur for the Protestant Reformation.
Broad in scope while still exceptionally attentive to detail, this ambitious and profound book unveils one of the most seismic shifts that occurred in religious belief and practice, deepening our understanding of one of the most fundamental aspects of human experience.
Gary A. Anderson is professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible in the Department of Theology at Notre Dame. He lives in South Bend, IN.”
If you’ve been following at all the back and forth between John Piper (“The Future of Justification“) and NT Wright (“Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Mission“) on the doctrine of justification then Douglas Campbell’s forthcoming book is one you’ll want to pick up because it creatively explores ways beyond the impasse between the two pastor/scholars. Even if you haven’t followed their back and forth Campbell’s book is still one I’d suggest reading because he explores Paul’s theology through the lens of apocalyptic thought. Here’s the link to the book at the publishers website, “The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul.”
Here’s the write up on it from Eisenbrauns;
“This scholarly book breaks a significant impasse in much Pauline interpretation today, pushing beyond both “Lutheran” and “new” perspectives to a new, noncontractual, “apocalyptic” reading of many of the apostle’s most famous — and most troublesome — texts.
Douglas Campbell holds that the intrusion of an alien, essentially modern, and theologically unhealthy theoretical construct into the interpretation of Paul has disordered the broader interpretation of his thought and created many of the difficulties that scholars now struggle with. It has, in fact, produced an individualistic and contractual construct — which Campbell terms “the Justification discourse” — that shares more with modern political traditions than with either orthodox theology or Paul’s first-century world. In order to counteract that influence, Campbell argues that it needs to be isolated and brought to the foreground before the interpretation of Paul’s texts begins. When that is done, new readings free from this intrusive paradigm become possible and surprising new interpretations unfold.
Demonstrating in detail how prior positions in theological and political terms affect exegesis — how commitments to either lead to bad exegetical decisions at key points, shifting the theoretical implications of certain key texts — The Deliverance of God proves itself a unique and very important work for those looking for an accurate reading of Paul’s words.”
(HT: Stephen Young)