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Sin and EvilMoral Values in Literature$
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Ronald Paulson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780300120141

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300120141.001.0001

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Classical and Christian Equivalents of Sin and Evil

Classical and Christian Equivalents of Sin and Evil

(p.34) Chapter Two Classical and Christian Equivalents of Sin and Evil
Sin and Evil

Ronald Paulson

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on the Greek word used to translate the Hebrew chattathamartia, which refers to the missing of a mark with bow and arrow: a lack of skill, not a morally culpable act. One scholar writes, “Hamartia (error) and its concrete equivalent harmartema (an erroneous act) and the cognate verb hamartanein seem to connote an area of senses shading in from a periphery of vice and passion to a center of rash and culpable negligence,” and notes “a passage in Oedipus where hamartia and hamartanein shift in successive lines from the connotation of the voluntary to that of the involuntary.” Hamartia is an unfortunate mistake, a misfortune, closer to suffering-evil than to doing-evil (kakia).

Keywords:   chattat, hamartia, lack of skill, morally culpable act, unfortunate mistake, suffering-evil, doing-evil

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