The Invention of Sin
Free Public Lecture
Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre A
What if English lacked the word “sin,” with its religious connotations and Judeo-Christian heritage, and had only words like “fault,” “error,” “crime” and the like? For this is the precise case with the ancient Greek word hamartia – a perfectly common term meaning “fault” (as in Aristotle’s famous “tragic flaw”), but which, when it appears in English translations of the Bible, is almost invariably rendered as “sin.”
Is there something in the Biblical context that justifies the use of a special word in English? How do we know that hamartia should be translated differently in pagan and Judeo-Christian contexts?
In this lecture, Professor David Konstan addresses the question of when, how, and whether error and wrongdoing acquired the specific sense that we associate with the word “sin".
Professor David Konstan, Professor of Classics at New York University
Professor David Konstan
Professor of Classics at New York University
New York University
David Konstan is Professor of Classics at New York University. Among his publications are *Greek Comedy and Ideology* (Oxford, 1995); *Friendship in the Classical World* (Cambridge, 1997); *Pity Transformed* (London, 2001); *The Emotions of the Ancient Greeks: Studies in Aristotle and Classical Literature* (Toronto, 2006); *“A Life Worthy of the Gods”: The Materialist Psychology of Epicurus* (Las egas, 2008); *Before Forgiveness: The Origins of a Moral Idea* (Cambridge, 2010); and *Beauty: The Fortunes of an Ancient Greek Idea* (Oxford, 2014). He is a past president of the American Philological Association (now the Society for Classical Studies), and a vice president of the Bristol Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an honorary fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.