Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Where are the Seven Deadly Sins?

Have you ever scoured the Bible, looking for this simple list of 7 sins? I have. You won't find them. At least, not in list form, by these names, in one place, in the Bible. Well, at least, I didn't find them. The closest I found is:

Proverbs 6:16-19 - There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Of course, there was a monk in the 4th century who revised the list. Then a Pope a couple hundred years later who revised it. Everyone wanted in on the 7 deadly sins.

But, I have recently stumbled upon a writing which took place well before the Pope and monk took it upon themselves to write this list....

The Testament of Reuben
Written somewhere between 107 and 137 B.C.

23 With these spirits are mingled the spirits of error.
24 First, the spirit of fornication is seated in the nature and in the senses;
25 The second, the spirit of insatiableness in the belly;
26 The third, the spirit of fighting, in the liver and gall.
27 The fourth is the spirit of obsequiousness and chicanery, that through officious attention one may be fair in seeming.
28 The fifth is the spirit of pride, that one may be boastful and arrogant.
29 The sixth is the spirit of lying, in perdition and jealousy to practise deceits, and concealments from kindred and friends.
30 The seventh is the spirit of injustice, with which are thefts and acts of rapacity, that a man may fulfil the desire of his heart; for injustice worketh together with the other spirits by the taking of gifts.

While this testament, like many others, did not achieve canonical status, this does not mean that it is not worthy of reading or studying. The reason it did not make it into the Bible, I cannot say.

But anyway, if you read all the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, you'll see each assigned a specific topic. Reuben discusses fornication; Simeon - envy; Dan - anger; etc. (I don't believe all 7 sins are covered by these 12, however... and fornication seems to be a rather common topic for most of them to discuss).

As many apocryphal texts, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs are an interesting read. Take a peek and let me know your thoughts. Most are only a couple chapters long except Simeon (3 chapters), Judah (4), and Levi (5).

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