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Thursday, 2 February 2017

The atonement theology of Romans with special reference to Rom. 3:21-26

I've uploaded an essay to the web entitled The atonement theology of Romans with special reference to Rom. 3:21-26. This represents my first foray into the thorny subject of atonement theology. This study moves outward in concentric circles from a single passage which receives the lion's share of the attention (Rom. 3:21-26) to a brief consideration of other relevant passages in Romans and finally in other Pauline letters. The study has implications for New Testament theology and systematic theology, but these are not discussed.

This essay was completed as part of my theology studies at King's Evangelical Divinity School (hence one will detect a special interest in Evangelical interpretations of Paul's atonement theology). It was the assessment for a module entitled Theology of Romans and I selected it from a list of four essay topic options. This was the final module I had to complete for the degree program apart from the Honours dissertation, with which I'm now busy. I've become stingy about sharing my essay assignments online, as I harbour ambitions of spinning some of them off into peer-reviewed publications in the future, and don't want to compromise the copyright. However, while I hope this study offers some insight, I am under no illusions about publishing as a Pauline scholar in the foreseeable future.

Below is an abstract for the study.
This study investigates Paul's atonement theology in Romans with particular emphasis on Rom. 3:21-26 and concludes that a representative-participatory model best explains Paul's atonement concept. "Representative" denotes Christ's function as the new Adam, the federal head of a new humanity freed from sin. "Participatory" denotes that, just as Christ entered into our humanity and shared in our death, so we must participate in his death if we are to enter into the new humanity founded by his resurrection. Aspects of Rom. 3:21-26 that are analysed include the plight (Rom. 3:23), δικαιο-terminology, the πίστις Χριστοῦ debate, redemption, the meaning of ἱλαστήριον and the πάρεσις of former sins. It is argued that, while Rom. 3:21-26 is concerned more with the "that" of the atonement than the "how," it does offer hints of a representative-participatory model, which are further developed in other texts, especially Rom. 8:3-4, Gal. 3:13 and 2 Cor. 5:21. Paul's interpretation of the atonement was multivalent and it is not claimed that the model offered here exhausts it. However, it is argued that Paul's thought is inconsistent with a penal substitution model of atonement, particularly with its understanding of the relationship between Jesus's death and God's wrath.

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