I remember reading a work of fiction, possibly by a Russian writer (translated into English), in which a character says that the Jesuits (?) write of a mysterious sin for which there is no forgiveness and that he/she thinks it is destroying love in another person. I'm normally good at finding things online but haven't been able to find this passage. The author might be Dostoevsky. Any ideas?

  • It may be relevant to note that the original source is Mark 3:29: "But whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin" -- but it would be something that a Jesuit might speculate about the specifics of, or a character attribute such speculation to a Jesuit.
    – Mary
    Apr 25, 2021 at 3:22

1 Answer 1


For sake of clarity and context, the notion of the “unforgivable sin” is found at least three times in the New Testament:

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (Matthew 12:31, KJV);

Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. (Mark 3: 28-29, KJV);

And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. (Luke 12:10, KJV)

Of course, what constitutes “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” is hotly debated among religious folk but some ideas include “deliberate rejection and antagonism [toward the ministry of Jesus], not an attempt to frighten those with a tender conscience” (France 177). And this warning is directed (mainly) against the Pharisees. Others contend it is “those who against their own conscience deliberately blaspheme the Holy Ghost and persecute the faithful” (Geldenhuys 349). The idea of blasphemy also carries the notion of “slander”; so, a paraphrase might be “slander against the Holy Spirit” and the “diametrical opposition to the good purpose of God”—again an indictment directed specifically at the Pharisees (France 482).

In any case, the NT references clearly convey a different idea than Isben’s “The great, unpardonable sin is to murder the love-life in a human soul.”

The quote (or idea) to which you refer is most likely:

“You are a murderer! You have committed the one mortal sin! You have killed the love-life in me. Do you understand what that means? The Bible speaks of a mysterious sin for which there is no forgiveness. I have never understood what it could be; but now I understand. The great, unpardonable sin is to murder the love-life in a human soul.”

― Henrik Ibsen, John Gabriel Borkman


France, R.T. The Gospel of Matthew (NIGTC). William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

France, R.T. The Gospel of Mark (NIGTC). William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002.

Geldenhuys, Norval. The Gospel of Luke (NICNT). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977.

Ibsen, Henrik, John Gabriel Borkman: A Classic Play From The Father Of Theatre. Stage Door, 2013.

The Holy Bible, (King James Version). Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1972.

  • Thank you! You have probably identified it. While I don't remember reading John Gabriel Borkman, I did read works by Ibsen at the time that I think I read the quote. Apr 25, 2021 at 17:32
  • My pleasure :-)
    – user10067
    Apr 25, 2021 at 18:11

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