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Ellen Feig

Professor, Bergen Community College

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Can one ever truly atone?

Today I taught my World Lit class The Book of Ruth. This story is in both the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament, the word for atonement in Hebrew actually translates as "to placate." The word for atonement in the New Testament translates as "payment." So if we only placate people when we atone and we must make payment for our sins, can we ever truly atone?

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    Feb 27 2013: Atone for any wrong deed, whether it be against one's family, against society, against nature. Leo - there are many critics who actually argue that the Old Testament sees atonement as to placate; so I like the idea of soothing one's soul while attempting to atone for sin or a bad deed. One of my students brought up the concept that one can't truly atone until one gains forgiveness from the wronged party but I am not sure that's what is meant by the Story of Ruth.

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