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Crime and Punishment

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky



It is not easy to pin down exactly what Crime and Punishment has to say about the Christian faith. It clearly comes from a Christian perspective, but also displays a distinct mistrust of religion. A belief in God is central to the story, but it is laced with a fair amount of tension when discussing the church.


The question explored in the novel centers around the problem of guilt. It is not a mystery – the guilt of the murderer is made evident early on. The problem explored is not one of objective guilt, but of the feeling of guilt within the criminal (and by extension, any sinner).


The issue of legalism is one that must be explored in connection to questions of crime and punishment, and the novel certainly delivers on this front. Legalism can be seen as perhaps the main obstacle that prevents feelings of "guilt" from being transformed into the "godly sorrow that brings repentance." The process of that transformation is what strikes me as most interesting in Crime and Punishment.


There are some harrowing scenes in the novel. The way they linger int he mind long after one has read the book is truly a sign of Dostoyevsky's great skill. I cannot help but wish I could read the novel in the original language – I can only imagine how much richer the experience would be.

reviewed by Shelly Bryant ©2015

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