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From Pride to Sloth, David Salomon Examines the Seven Deadly Sins in New Book

Research director traces influences of sin from Middle Ages to today.

  Monday, May 6, 2019
 
David Salomon
David Salomon

The so-called seven deadly sins – pride, lust, anger, gluttony, avarice, envy and sloth – are as old as humanity, constantly evolving, and still influence our popular culture in countless ways, according to a new book authored by Christopher Newport University professor David A. Salomon.

Salomon is director of undergraduate research and creative activity and teaches courses in the university’s Honors Program. He has been teaching and writing about medieval and Renaissance literature, religion and culture for almost 30 years.

The Seven Deadly Sins: How Sin Influenced the West from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era (Praeger, 2019) will be published this month.

Salomon examines the history of the concept of sin as it has influenced and shaped Western culture. Then comes a section on contemporary applications of the idea of sin. As Salomon makes clear, sin touches modern life in every place from the boardroom to the bedroom. Each chapter provides a close look at the origins and history of an individual sin. Salomon looks at the ways in which technology has particularly influenced contemporary notions of sin. Instagram and selfies evoke a discussion of pride and narcissism, while the introduction of modern refrigeration and microwave dinners has contributed to a gluttonous culture.

Each section includes case studies from our everyday lives. Regarding lust, Salomon also takes on the tension between sins imagined and sinful actions. After an interview with Playboy magazine in 1976, Jimmy Carter put that tension on display when he admitted he had looked at many women with lust and had committed adultery in his heart. Recalling the theology of St. Augustine, Salomon notes the important distinction between intention and action.

Salomon examines how the popular media makes sinning seem less serious, through the frequent condemnation of minor transgressions and minor omissions as “sins.”

This is Salomon’s second major book. In An Introduction to the "Glossa Ordinaria" as a Medieval Hypertext (University of Wales Press, 2013), Salomon offers a primer on the extensively annotated Bible from its genesis in the 10th century to its first printed edition in the 15th century. He has also written two other monographs on faculty evaluation in higher education.

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