Non Fiction
Aviad Kleinberg
Belknap Press
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There is no society without right and wrong. There is no society without sin. But every culture has its own favorite list of trespasses. Perhaps the most influential of these was drawn up by the Church in late antiquity: the Seven Deadly Sins. Pride, sloth, gluttony, envy, anger, lust, and greed are not forbidden acts but the passions that lead us into temptation. Aviad Kleinberg, one of the most prominent public intellectuals in Israel, examines the arts of sinning and of finger pointing. What is wrong with a little sloth? Where would haute cuisine be without gluttony? Where would we all be without our parents' lust? Has anger really gone out of style in the West? Can consumer culture survive without envy and greed? And with all humility, why shouldn't we be proud? With intellectual insight and deadpan humor, Kleinberg deftly guides the reader through Jewish, Christian, and Greco-Roman thoughts on sin. Each chapter weaves the past into the present and examines unchanging human passions and the deep cultural shifts in the way we make sense of them. "Seven Deadly Sins" is a compassionate, original, and witty look at the stuff that makes us human.
The Seven Sins is a fascinating, amusing and highly readable book that offers a rethinking of our sins and passions through an examination of the Christian deadly sins-sloth, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, anger and pride--to which Kleinberg adds an eighth, self-righteousness. Ynet The Seven Sins is an intellectual gem that introduces the reader to a new world of ideas. It is a thought-provoking and passionate book. Kleinberg cites religious (Christian and Jewish) and non-religious texts. He widens our horizons and broadens our minds...Kleinberg's humor and learning invite the reader to a journey of self exploration and to a reexamination of the sources of evil. Timeout Israel The strength of this book is the link between the historian-philosopher Kleinberg and the boy Aviad that appears repeatedly in the book. It offers a successful connection between theoretical issues and the life of concrete human beings in our day and age. Haaretz The Seven Sins is a book written with a pleasure that is bound to pass over to the reader. It is an essay that demonstrates the broad scholarship of its author, who is as comfortable with the rabbinic literature as with Christian and Jewish philosophy, with the Bible as with medieval poetry. Unlike many academics that make it a point to be boring and laborious, Kleinberg is fun to read. Maariv [A] lively and engaging essay collection. -- J. Courtney Sullivan New York Times Book Review 20081130 Israeli intellectual Aviad Kleinberg's new book, Seven Deadly Sins: A Very Partial List, is a taut examination of conventional morality. He quotes widely and obscurely, from 14th-century German mystics and Jesus to Franz Kafka and the Buddha, also occasionally invoking his own experience. -- Iain Marlow Toronto Star 20081206 Aviad Kleinberg entertainingly and instructively poses some provocative questions--"What's wrong with a little sloth? Where would haute cuisine be without gluttony?" Jewish Chronicle 20081205 A learned, sometimes personal look at sloth, envy, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, and pride as well as self-righteousness and what [Kleinberg] calls "advanced sin." -- June Sawyers Booklist 20081001 In this collection of essays about sin, and its relativity, Kleinberg focuses on the big seven: Sloth, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger and Pride. With each, he provides historical perspective, going back to Greek and Roman, Jewish, and Christian traditions, showing how they have changed over the centuries. He has interesting insights, a keen sense of humor, and his research skills found plenty of fodder for both. The bonus chapter on Self-Righteousness (the sin of pride and sloth), in many ways, ties them all together, as we notice the sin in others, and feel the need to point it out, yet somehow do not notice the beam in our own eye. Probably should be a reference book on many a pastor's shelf. Sacramento Book Review 20090201 Kleinberg offers an accessible, thought-provoking reflection on the famous list of sins created by the Catholic Church in late antiquity. His previous books focused on saints; in this well-written, insightful, and witty book he turns his attention to sinners...It is an enjoyable read that will edify and entertain. -- M. A. Berkson Choice 20090701 Kleinberg looks at the seven famous sins, dismantling and interrogating the very notion of sin. He uses history to show how sinful behavior changes with time and context, how one generation's sin becomes another's freedom. This is an important and challenging book about the moral state we're in. -- Stav Sherez Catholic Herald 20090925
Aviad Kleinberg is Professor of History at Tel Aviv University and the author of Prophets in Their Own Country: Living Saints and the Making of Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages.

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