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The Invention of Sin

13 apr 2017 10:00 - 17:30
Institut d'études avancées de Paris
Hôtel de Lauzun
17 quai d'Anjou
75004 Paris

Conference organized by David Konstan (Paris IAS / New York University) and Renaud Gagné (Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study / University of Cambridge)


The Greek word for a fault or error is hamartia; this same word, when it appears in Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament, is commonly rendered as “sin.”  If there were no word like sin or péché or Sünde or peccato in modern languages, with the religious connotation these terms have acquired, could we identify a special sense of hamartia (or the Latin peccatum) in the Bible on the basis of context alone?  This colloquium will address the question of when and how error and wrongdoing acquired the specific sense of sin commonly associated with the Judaeo-Christian tradition – if indeed there was a change.  Under examination will be attitudes toward wrongdoing in ancient cults, ideas of pollution, conceptions of God or gods, and more.

The colloquium will consist of several relatively brief papers, in English or French, followed by discussion.  The format is a roundtable discussion, and the number of participants is limited.


Morning (9h30 - 13h00)

9h30  Sin: The Prehistory
David Konstan (IEA de Paris, Université de New York)

10h15  Le concept de honte chez Philon d'Alexandrie : à propos de son interprétation de la rencontre d'Adam et d’Eve au jardin d’Eden
Carlos Lévy (Université Paris-Sorbonne)

11h00  Coffee break

11h30  Existe-t-il une faute romanesque? Péché et contrôle du corps dans les Ethiopiques d'Héliodore
Romain Brethes (Lycée Janson-de-Sailly)

Afternoon (14h30 - 17h30)

14h30  Péché et nécessité chez saint Augustin
Anne-Isabelle Bouton Touboulic (Université Lille 3) 

15h30  Secular sin: Pseudo-Phocylides' construction of Biblical prohibitions as universal ethics
Miguel Herrero de Jáuregui (Complutense University (Madrid))

16h30  Coffee break

17h00  Was Patristic Sin Different from Ancient Error? The Role of Ethical Intellectualism and the Invention of “Original Sin”
Ilaria Ramelli (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart (Milan))

Alain Gigandet (Université Paris-Est Créteil)
Suzanne Said (Columbia University)
Olivier Renaut (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre)
Jean-Baptiste Gourinat (Université Paris-Sorbonne)
Julie Giovacchini (CNRS)
Anne Vial-Logeay (Université Lille 3)
Charles Delattre (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre)


13 April 2017, 09:30 - 13:00
13 April 2017, 14:30 - 17:30
On the Margins of Love: Gratitude, Loyalty, and Altruism in the Classical World – and Beyond
01 February 2017 - 30 June 2017
13 Apr 2017 17:30
David Konstan
Conferences and workshops
Antiquity (3500 BCE – 476 CE)
World or no region
Classical studies