Twice About One Guilt: A Bible Study

January 15th, 2013 5:48 pm

Gabriela Bradovkova


Read both sections from the Bible. Try to find out answers to the questions below.

Genesis 3: 6-13 and 23

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

Luke 17, 36-39 and 44-50

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Guilt in general

  1. What is guilt in your opinion?
  2. Both texts obviously present situations when individuals are considered guilty. However, neither of the texts directly mentions word “guilt”. Can you come up with any other synonyms for guilt?
  3. What are usual consequences of guilt?
  4. Theological guilt (trespassing against God´s law), sociological (trespassing against civil law) and psychological guilt (a guilty conscience) can be classified as the main kinds of guilt. Can you add any others?

One guilt, different approaches

  1. Why are the people from the texts considered guilty? What is the cause of their guilt? Do we know what they really did?
  2. Did anyone directly accuse them? What is Pharisee´s role in the 2nd story?
  3. Do they feel guilty? How can we find it out?
  4. Can we talk about a collective or a shared guilt in the 1st story?
  5. Dealing with guilt – based on their behavior, compare how Adam and Eve in one story and the woman in the other story deal with their guilt in front of God/Jesus. What do they do? What do they say? What is their intention?
  6. What is a consequence of their actions? How does their “end” differ from one another? Why do you think it is so?
  7. One was justified – the other not. What impact do their attitudes to own guilt have on their relationship to God? Why do you think God treats them differently?

Taking from the stories…

  1. Do you think there is a relation between (objective) guilt and (subjective) guilty feelings?
  2.  “To feel guilty is not to be guilty.” (Sigmund Freud) Do you agree? Explain.
  3. How can guilty feelings be expressed in ordinary life? What kind of behavior can result from guilt/guilty feelings? Are guilty feelings always legitimate?
  4. Based on your findings can you describe an adequate way to cope with guilt from the Christian point of view?
  5. Based on the readings, Adam and Eve were blaming others; the Pharisee was condemning the woman. Can you name any other ways how people usually excuse their (wrong) acts or point at guilt of the others?

For inspiration or further discussion

  1. “In so far as you approach temptation to a man, you do him an injury; and if he is overcome, you share his guilt.”. (Samuel Johnson, English Poet)
  2. “Men’s minds are too ready to excuse guilt in themselves”. (Titus Livy)
  3. “Fear is the tax which conscience pays to guilt”. (unknown)
  4. “Sin with the multitude, and your responsibility and guilt are as great and as truly personal, as if you alone had done the wrong”. (Tryon Edwards, American Theologian, 1809-1894)
  5. “Guilt is the very nerve of sorrow”. (Horace Bushnell)
  6. “Power acquired by guilt was never used for a good purpose”. (Latin Proverb)


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