A Response to Steven Kepnes
Understanding sin and redemption requires thinking about why there is sin in the world, who is to blame, and how sinners are to be redeemed and forgiven. In this essay, I reinforce and also extend Steven Kepnes's efforts to uncover parallels between Christian and Jewish beliefs about sin and death, death and exile, and home after exile. Kepnes draws parallels between Christian notions of sin as individual alienation and Jewish notions of sin as corporate exile, and he suggests that sin and exile are redeemed through prayer. I agree, but I want to suggest that both traditions also share a deeper understanding of sin as injustice and of redemption as acts of righteousness. Because space is limited, I will make a series of connected arguments on the problem of Jewish and Christian conceptions of faith and action, revelation and witness.
Consider these two divergent texts:
See! I am setting before you today: Blessing and curse. . . . I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life--if you and your offspring would live--by loving the Lord your God, heeding his commandments, and holding close to Him. ( Deut. 11:26-29; 30:19-20)
In this way it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from among the dead on the third day, and on the basis of his name repentance for forgiveness of sins would be preached in all the nations--starting out