Jesus and the Doctrine of the Atonement
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In his new book, Professor den Heyer explores the tremendous gulf between the historical Jesus and the manifold responses to him in the New Testament, and the classical Christian doctrines of the atonement.
How is it that someone who died on the cross as the result of a monstrous alliance between a group of Jewish leaders and the Roman forces of occupation can be seen to be fulfilling the pre-ordained will of God? What were Jesus' intentions, and does later Christian doctrine do justice to them?
In investigating this complex question, the author carries out a thorough study of all the passages relating to the death of Jesus in the New Testament. The great variety of images and metaphors which make an almost chaotic impression on the reader stand in marked contrast to the clear lines of the doctrine of the atonement. Far from helping to resolve the problem, this deeper study accentuates it even further. No immediate resolution is possible, but very profound questions are posed here for Christian faith.
Though tackling a difficult matter, Professor den Heyer's book is particularly easy to read. He based it on very wide reading, but in the end he scrapped all the notes, left the scholarly literature in his bookcase and wrote using only the Bible in its original languages, some translations, a dictionary and a concordance. The deceptive simplicity conceals a masterpiece of clear writing.
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