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Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew BibleMetaphor, Culture, and the Making of a Religious Concept$
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Joseph Lam

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199394647

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199394647.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 December 2021

The Accounting of Sin

The Accounting of Sin

(p.87) 3 The Accounting of Sin
Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew Bible

Joseph Lam

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines metaphors that express the idea of sin as entries in an account kept by God in heaven. In contrast to the notion of sin as debt, which presumes the ability of the sinner to rectify the situation via repayment of the debt, the metaphor of sin as account places the sinner in a passive posture, at the mercy of a divine king who ‘reckons’ (pāqaḏ) good and bad deeds to human agents and ‘repays’ (šillēm or hēšîḇ) them in proper measure. Expressions such as the ‘erasure’ (māḥāh) of sin also draw explicitly from the practicalities of writing. These metaphors are employed to convey sin’s lasting effects, as well as its dependence on the notion of divine authority.

Keywords:   sin, metaphor, Hebrew Bible, accounting, debt, divine authority, memory

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