From The Browser, an interview with Paula Fredriksen and recommended books—the opening question:
Before we look at your five book choices, how would you define sin?
I think three elements recur in discussions about sin. The first is a human moral agent. The second is some sort of revealed standard of behaviour. And in the West, of course, the third component is God – “sin” would be the human violation of a divine command. But modernity isn’t antiquity. “God” is a concept that’s been out of focus in Western culture since Nietzsche, and in modern Western democracies legislation draws on traditions other than the Bible. The civil idea of “crime” is quite different from the religious idea of “sin”. And, of course, depending on your point of view, something can be a crime without being a sin, and a sin without being a crime.