In A History of Sin, John Portmann argues that especially since 9/11, the reality of sin has made a strong comeback, and he believes that even liberal Christians, who have downplayed the notion of sin, have to take the fact of personal evildoing seriously. Starting in the present, Portmann then loops back into the past to outline the key moments in the history of sin from the ancient Greeks and Israelites through Jesus and Paul to Augustine and Dante and on up to the present. A History of Sin reveals how some kinds of sin, such as usury, have faded or undergone radical transformation, and how other activities, such as slavery, polygamy, gender inequality, etc., have come to be regarded as sinful. In this highly readable volume, Portmann examines how our changing understanding of sin impacts today's society.
John Portmann is professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He is the author of When Bad Things Happen to Other People, Sex & Heaven, and Bad for Us.
1 Introduction - Sin Today Chapter 2 Sin Fatigue: The Dilution and Demotion of Sin Chapter 3 Atonement Fatigue Chapter 4 Catholic Masturbation and Modern Science Chapter 5 Virginity: Almost a Sin? Chapter 6 Modern Sins Chapter 7 The Sins of Our Fathers: Paying for Affirmative Action Chapter 8 The Best We Can Do