The Seven Deadly Sins


Grasping. Avarice. Covetousness. Miserliness. Insatiable cupidity. Overreaching ambition. Desire spun out of control. The deadly sin of Greed goes by many names, appears in many guises, and wreaks havoc on individuals and nations alike.In this lively and generous book, Phyllis A. Tickle argues that Greed is "the Matriarch of the Deadly Clan," the ultimate source of Pride, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Lust, and Anger. She shows that the major faiths, from Hinduism and Taoism to Buddhism and Christianity regard Greed as the greatest calamity humans can indulge in, engendering further sins and eviscerating all virtues. As the Sikh holy book Adi Granth asks: "Where there is greed, what love can there be?" Tickle takes a long view of Greed, from St. Paul to the present, focusing particularly on changing imaginative representations of Greed in Western literature and art. Looking at such works as the Psychomachia, or "Soul Battle" of the fifth-century poet Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, the paintings of Peter Bruegel and Hieronymous Bosch, the 1987 film Wall Street, and the contemporary Italian artist Mario Donizetti, Tickle shows how our perceptions have evolved from the medieval understanding of Greed as a spiritual enemy to a nineteenth-century sociological construct to an early twentieth-century psychological deficiency, and finally to a new view, powerfully articulated in Donizetti's mystical paintings, of Greed as both tragic and beautiful.Engaging, witty, brilliantly insightful, Greed explores the full range of this deadly sin's subtle, chameleon-like qualities, and the enormous destructive power it wields, evidenced all too clearly in the world today.
  • Oxford University Press; April 2004
  • ISBN 9780198035565
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
  • Title: Greed
  • Author: Phyllis A. Tickle
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press

In The Press

"What midsummer night's feast would be digestible without Francine Prose's Gluttony; what weekend jaunt to your best friend's chateau would be survivable without Joseph Epstein's Envy? And you'll need Wendy Wasserstein's Sloth (wickedly subtitled 'And How to Get It') while you're struggling out of your deck chair."--O, The Oprah Magazine (on the series)
"Whimsically packaged exminations of Lust by Simon Blackburn, Gluttony by Francine Prsoe, Envy by Joseph Epstein, Anger by Robert Thurman, Greed by Phyllis Tickle, Sloth by Wendy Wasserstein and Pride by Michael Eric Dyson become playgrounds for cultural reflection by authors and playwrights in Oxford's Seven Deadly Sins series."--Publishers Weekly (on the series)
"Don't be misled by the format of this book. What you're holding is not a decaf caramel macchiato--it's a triple espresso, a little book with a big wallop. Greed, Phyllis Tickle says, is a sin we see readily in others but rarely acknowledge as our own--and therein lies its power. Urbanely provocative, with striking assertions every other page--if you don't find something to disagree with, you can't have been reading very carefully--it demands to be devoured in one sitting."--John Wilson, Editor, Books & Culture
"Tickle's thoughtfulness and scholarship will make readers avaricious and leave them wanting more."--Publishers Weekly
"Many cheers to Phyllis Tickle for this lively, trim, erudite study! She has pulled off a near-miracle, making the most deadening (remember Midas?) of the deadly sins glitter with fascination and gleam with moral (or immoral) depth. Tickle is full of surprises, darting from the Mahabharata to Hieronymous Bosch to D.H. Lawrence to 9/11 as she makes her case for greed as the 'mother and matrix, root and consort' of all sins. A superb achievement that leaves one, dare I say it, greedy for more."--Philip Zaleski, Editor of The Best Spiritual Writing series, and author of The Recollected Heart
"Tickle gives the reader such an apt 'big picture' glimpse into our world and its history that her words could serve as the perfect introduction for the entire series. She then persuasively argues that greed is the ultimate source of all the sins, because the root of greed is desire spun out of control."--Library Journal

About The Author

Phyllis A. Tickle frequently appears on PBS's "Religion & Ethics News Weekly," The Hallmark Channel, and National Public Radio. She is the author of some two dozen books, including the forthcoming The Night Hours and the three-volume The Divine Hours, a set of manuals for observing fixed-hour prayer. One of the nation's leading experts and commentators on religion in America, Tickle was the religion editor for Publishers Weekly from 1991 to 1996 and a contributing editor until 2004. She lives in