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The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin Through Easter Eyes

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  77 ratings  ·  15 reviews
This original work of theological anthropology looks at original sin in the light of the Resurrection, and shows how forgiveness has become the way of transformation.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Herder Herder
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May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Alison takes a look at the doctrine of original sin from a very different perspective. Traditionally the doctrine of original sin has been understood in a "foundational" manner. This means that the normal Christian story goes like this: creation, fall, redemption. Yet Alison changes this around. In his view, it is Jesus' death as a victim, and Jesus' resurrection as a victim, give us the hermeneutical key to understanding the whole stroy (what he calls the 'intelligence of the victim').
What we
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a difficult and profound book. I read Part One with great interest, but really I skimmed Part Two which contains the heavily detailed exegesis on the theories of Part One. In this respect, I think that the writer of the Foreward is just plain wrong when he says that one should read chapter one and then go directly to Part Two. It is chapter one and the other chapters of Part One that are most directly engaging to a non-theologian, non-academic reader.

I have been stuck on the doctrine of
May 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: theology
I wouldn't dare analyse the intellectual arguments of someone who learned from Jesuits. Yikes!

What I can say is that this book left me feeling sad for Roman Catholics. What must it be like to have your heavy thinkers continue to set you apart from all the other Christians who history has given a different set of practices and/or understanding of what the Jesus event meant for humanity?

I confess that once the author arrived at the claim that baptism into the Roman Catholic church is the requirem
Brett Salkeld
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is one of those rare books where you are simply overwhelmed at the genius of the author. James Alison is at the same time creative and traditional, a thinker whose Catholic sensibility is so finely honed that even when he says something that no one in the tradition has ever said before it just sounds right. Once his basic thesis has been articulate, namely that original sin (like the Trinity) could never have been understood without the fact of the Resurrection, it seems obvious. But beyond ...more
Nov 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those interested in original sin and theories of what makes us human.
Shelves: theology, non-fiction
Very interesting and thoughtful exploration of what made humans human and the on-going struggle with that process.
Jesse Miller
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Alison makes original sin, a doctrine I've been somewhat uncomfortable with, into something reasonable and necessary. He argues against a "foundational" approach that starts with Adam sinning. Instead, he shows how Jesus's life, death, and resurrection reveals a new view of God and humanity. God is understood to have nothing to do with death. This development started in Hebrew Scriptures as God became less of a jealous, sometimes violent God among many gods to the one creator God. Human culture, ...more
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant, thorough, insightful treatment of original sin in light of Girard's mimetic theory. At times the language was dense, but staying with it tenaciously was richly rewarded with a mature, sensible, credible light on the revelation of salvation. ...more
Chris Waddle
This is the greatest theology book I have ever read. I can say with no hesitation that this book demonstrates that Christianity is True and livable and helps to sustain human flourishing proudly. Thank God for this book and for James Alison.
Jacques-jude Lépine
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A genuine masterpiece of theology and anthropology. Not easy to read, long sentences and academic style, but the analysis is worth the effort. Hard to summarize. Forgiveness and resurrection are at the center.
Aug 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm not going to lie, it was difficult, difficult. I gave it five stars because what I did understand opened up new and fruitful ways of looking at old problems. And I presume that what I didn't understand was of the same caliber. The whole idea of mimetic desire is powerful and transformative, once one gets this idea, the victimization prevalent in society just seems so obvious and prevalent. The idea that it is this which constitutes original sin is profound and prolific. The idea too that we ...more
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not an easy read, having its basis in James Alison's doctoral dissertation and suffering - particularly in the early chapters - from the heaviness of language (unhappily) found in such texts. But the thinking is sound, it's exposition in later chapters - whilst still difficult and often ponderous to follow - is fascinating and provocative in the best sense, and his conclusions as such are presented (or, perhaps better said, offered) with refreshing humility.
Worth reading if you want to understan
Humberto Maiztegui
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is time to assume de Original Liberation, in the path of the revelation of God of the Hebrews in Exodus. No more a theology of sin, but a theology of grace and shalom. The Roman Catholic Tehologian Queiruga just afirm this way as is in the Theology of Liberation in Latin America.

+Humberto - Porto Alegre
(Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil)
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I love some of Alison's ideas, but I find much of his writing a bit over-wrought. ...more
Sister Anne
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just FYI, this was Alison's doctoral dissertation, despite being written in an almost conversational style. I had to read it twice in a row just to read it once, but it was well worth the effort. There are some amazing insights in Alison's bringing Rene Girard's thought to bear on the issue of Original Sin. He takes all the moralism out while actually upping the ante with his robust theology of Original Sin. This is a book I think I will need to read annually. It has a tremendous amount to offer ...more
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James Alison (b. 1959) is a Catholic theologian, priest and author. He grew up in an evangelical family in England and converted to Catholicism as a teenager. Alison studied at Oxford and earned his doctorate in theology from the Jesuit Faculty in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He was a member of the Dominican order from 1981-1995.

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4 likes · 3 comments
“The doctrine of original sin is the doctrine according to which divine forgiveness makes known the accidental nature of human mortality, thus permitting an entirely new anthropological understanding.” 4 likes
“I naturally think that my desire is mine, is of me, that I am it's subject and I know what I want. But so to think is not to see that desire is making me.

The me is a highly mutable construct, radically dependent on the desires of others.

The failure to recognize is not a mistake about something of which the ‘me’ might be conscious, but is a failure to rest peaceably on what made it possible for there to be a conscious “me” at all.”
More quotes…