chimes.sum2013.web0729 - page 31

FACULTY NEWS
Professor’s new book examines
ancient sins and current addictions
By Kay Carney
I
f you’ve never given much thought
to the Seven Deadly Sins, here’s
your chance to take a fresh look
from a different perspective.
R. Scott Sullender, associate pro-
fessor of pastoral counseling at San
Francisco Theologi-
cal Seminary, has
long been intrigued
with addictions—
how and why people
become dependent
on a multitude of
behaviors—and the
theological relationship between ad-
dictions and the Seven Deadly Sins.
In his new book entitled
Ancient
Sins…Modern Addictions: A Fresh Look
at the Seven Deadly Sins
, Sullender ex-
plores the similarities between the tra-
ditional definition of “deadly sins” and
the modern definition of “addiction.”
He also looks at how addictions have
resulted in a burgeoning mental
health crisis in America. The vari-
ous modern addictions, fueled
by the sins of pride, envy, anger,
greed, gluttony, sloth, and lust
seem to have reached epidemic
proportions, he says—so much
so that millions of dollars are
being spent trying to “win the
battle, but we’re losing the war.”
Sullender wonders: What is wrong
with humanity? Why is it that humans
are so self-destructive and so destruc-
tive of each other and the natural
world? His book provides a graphic
and powerful perspective on these
eternal questions. According to Sul-
lender, nowhere else do humanity’s
self-destructive tendencies manifest
themselves more obviously than in the
world of addiction.
“In the Christian tradition, the
concept of sin is the answer to this age-
old question about what is wrong with
us,” he says. “Traditionally, sin has
primarily been understood as a moral
failure or as a breaking of God’s laws.
The metaphor has been framed in ei-
ther moral or legal terms. But what if
we look at sin through the framework
of addiction?
“In this book, I propose to look at
the traditional Seven Deadly Sins in
the light of modern psychology and
addiction recovery literature,” Sullen-
See Sullender on page 38
SFTS CHIMES | Summer 2013
29
of borders in the New Testament.
The Muilenburg-Koenig History
of Religion Seminar was funded by
a gift from Rev. Dr. Robert Koenig
(M.Div. ’69) in memory of James
Muilenburg, SFTS Gray Professor
of Hebrew Exegesis and Old Testa-
ment from 1963-69, and scholar in
residence at the Graduate Theologi-
cal Union until 1972. Her paper was
entitled “Tear Down the Wall: Early
Christianity as a Religion Breaking
Borders?”
Weissenrieder was also invited in
early December to the Hengstberger
Prizeholder meeting at the Interna-
tional Research Institute in Heidel-
berg, Germany. Together with PD
Dr. Gregor Etzelmüller from the
Theology Department of the Ruper-
to Carola University of Heidelberg,
Weissenrieder was the first junior
scholar in Humanities receiving the
prize in 2006. She currently received
together with Dr. Gregor Etzelmül-
ler a grant of $5,500 founded by
Dr. Hengstberger for the translation
of the book
Religion und Krankheit
(Religion and Illness). The book was
granted as one of the twelve books
recommended in the year 2011 by
the Theologische Literaturzeitschrift
(Journal of Theological Literature).
In December and January she
worked at the libraries of Ancient
History and Theology at the Univer-
sity of Freiburg, Germany and has
written several papers, one of which
is “Die lebendige Wirkung des
Geistes in Gen 2,7LXX” (The lively
effect of the Spirit in Genesis 2:7
in the Septuagint). She is currently
editing a volume on “Interpreting
the Body” together with Prof. Dr
Gerhardus van den Heever from the
University of Johannesbourg, South
Africa, in the Journal series
Religion
& Theology
with contributions from
Teun Tieleman from the Nether-
lands, Gregor Etzelmüller from Ger-
many, Erastus Jonker from South Af-
rica, Christopher Ocker from SFTS
and many others.
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