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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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Sin as Path or Direction

Sin as Path or Direction

(p.156) 4 Sin as Path or Direction
Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew Bible

Joseph Lam

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines expressions that draw from images of a path or a direction of travel as vehicles for the instantiation of metaphor. The appearance of such metaphors is consistent with the intuitive coherence between spatial movement and notions of moral progress. Notably, the most common verb for “sinning” in the Hebrew Bible, ḥāṭā’, is etymologically derived from the failure to reach a goal, although in its biblical usage its sense of “to commit a sin” has been clearly lexicalized. Elsewhere in the biblical texts, the vocabulary of movement is regularly employed to describe the actions of moral agents. Yet it is crucial to recognize that these expressions represent a diverse set of applications of similar (or sometimes identical) metaphorical vehicles.

Keywords:   sinning, metaphor, Hebrew Bible, path, direction, moral agents

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