Australia’s MasterChef’s contestants were tonight [July 11, 2010] asked to cook dishes in keeping with the ‘seven deadly sins’ of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
Apart from the challenge of cooking with a theme, the designation of these sins has an interesting history.
There is a list of seven sins in the Bible, but it bears little resemblance to the well-known list. Proverbs 6:16-19 says:
16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (NIV)
The only common element is pride, linked to ‘haughty eyes’. In fact most of the list in Proverbs is to do with relational strife with particular emphasis on the dangers of dishonesty.
The ‘seven deadly sins’ appearing in MasterChef were based on a list developed by 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus, who had eight sins in his list of Greek terms, the extra one being sorrow or despair. Translated into Latin, they read:
- Gula (gluttony)
- Fornicatio (fornication, lust)
- Avaritia (avarice/greed)
- Ira (wrath)
- Acedia (acedia or discouragment)
- Vanagloria (vainglory)
- Superbia (hubris, pride)
These were refined over the years with Pope Gregory 1 combining some and adding others, with even further changes occurring over time.
Dante used the current version in his writings and artists from the 14th century ownwards featured them regularly, so ingraining them in European thought.
It is fascinating to consider that lying does not make an appearance at all while some of the sins to drop out along the way include discouragement, despair and extravagance. Deadly things indeed…
While there is no Biblical list that coincides exactly with the popularised ‘seven deadly sins’, they are all the subject of Biblical sanction or at least warning.
On the plus side, the Catholic Church also developed seven holy virtues – humility, charity, kindness, patience, chastity, temperance, and diligence.
There is much to learn about life and character in considering what the Bible says about sin but it is more than symbolic when Jesus, in discussing the sin of others against us, says we should forgive seventy times seven.
If you are not sure where you stand, then read the words of Jesus in the Bible – he is wise enough to point us in the right direction. Of course he must have sincerely believed in the harm of sin – he died for ours. PH