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[XTalk] Re: origins of the doctrine of atonement

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  • Richard H. Anderson
    ... mystery religions involving participation in the death and resurrection of the dying and rising god. It has naught to do with Judaism. Where did the notion
    Message 1 of 21 , Nov 12, 2003
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      --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Lisbeth S. Fried"
      <lizfried@u...> wrote:

      > Jesus' atoning death has more to do with Greek and Egyptian
      mystery religions involving participation in the death and
      resurrection of the dying and rising god. It has naught to do with
      Judaism.

      Where did the notion that the death of an ordinary person had
      salvific value originate? As you know I claim, citing Milgrom, that
      the death of any high priest had limited salvific value. I also
      claim that the death of the Jewish High Priest is the origin of the
      NT doctrine of atonement. Boyarin would say that it is difficult
      when dealing with cultural border crossings to determine if the
      origin of a particular idea is Jewish or Christian citing his Jewish-
      Christian martyrdom discussions. In this instance however, I
      believe I have the better argument in that the idea of substitution
      is present, in the sense of 'take the place of' or 'substitute for'
      the necessity of suffering for one's transgression, BCE.

      The vicarious intercession of a mediator is present in the
      following: when the people intercede for Jonathan (1 Sam 14:45) and
      Abraham for Sodom (Gen 18:22-23), when Moses places himself between
      the people and God's chastising wrath (Exod 32:30-32) and in a
      prayer of David for the people (2 Sam 24:17).

      In response to guiltless suffering the idea of a just man atoning
      vicariously for Israel became common in early rabbinic Judaism,
      especially in relation to Moses and Isaac. By the third century CE,
      whatever soteriological significance the Christians claimed for
      Jesus, the Jews in turn tended to claim for Moses and/or Isaac.

      Was pre-Christian Judaism familiar with the idea of a suffering,
      atoning Messiah? Except possibly for Wis 2:13 and 3:19, the 4th
      servant song was not interpreted this way in early rabbinic
      Judaism.

      Both 2 Maccabees (1st century BCE) and 4 Maccabees contain a martyr
      theology which provides a significant pre-Christian source for the
      idea of the vicarious suffering and death of the martyrs. These
      ideas are strongly suggested in 2 Maccabees, esp. 7:37-38 and 12:42-
      45, and are stated with clarity in 4 Maccabees, esp. in the prayers
      of the dying martyrs. Eleazar prays to the Lord to be "merciful unto
      thy people, and let our punishment be a satisfaction in their
      behalf. Make thy blood their purification and take my soul to ransom
      their souls" (4 Maccabees 6:28-29).

      Something interesting happened in the Alexandrian Septuagint (LXX)
      translation of Lev. 17:11 from the third century BCE. The final
      phrase of this verse "It is the blood that makes atonement by reason
      of the life."

      There is no question that the LXX of Lev. 17:11 is strongly
      evocative of substitutionary ideas. This may be the source of
      Eleazar's prayer in 4 Maccabees 6:28-29.

      Eleazar is not just any person. Eleazar is the High Priest.

      Richard H. Anderson
    • Jeffrey B. Gibson
      ... Good quotes. Note though, that not one of the authorities you cite -- or who are cited by the authorities you cite -- sees the High priest as someone
      Message 2 of 21 , Nov 12, 2003
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        "Richard H. Anderson" wrote:

        > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Lisbeth S. Fried"
        > <lizfried@u...> wrote:
        >
        > > Jesus' atoning death has more to do with Greek and Egyptian
        > mystery religions involving participation in the death and
        > resurrection of the dying and rising god. It has naught to do with
        > Judaism.
        >
        > Martin Hengel, Atonement: pp. 60-65. Esp. his conclusion on p.
        > 64: "As a result, after careful consideration of all the sources
        > indicated, we must agree with Jeremias and Lohse that the vicarious
        > atoning effect of the death or even the suffering of a righteous man
        > was not unknown in the Palestinian Judaism of the first century AD,
        > independently of the question of terminology."
        >
        > Psalm 34 states in verse 22
        > The LORD ransoms the life of his servants, *
        > and none will be punished who trust in him.
        >
        >
        > Joseph Bonsirven, Palestinian Judaism in the Time of Christ,
        > Translated from the French by William Wolf, At page 116 wrote: "The
        > doctrine of vicarious atonement through suffering, by death, and
        > especially by martyrdom, seems to have been generally accepted in
        > the Jewish world before Christ (2 Macc. 7:37; Sifre on Num.,
        > 25:13)."
        >

        Good quotes. Note though, that not one of the authorities you cite --
        or who are cited by the authorities you cite -- sees the High priest as
        someone whose death is atoning or finds anything within Judaism that
        points or attests to the particular theological topos that you would
        have us believe is the origin of the early Christian proclamations of
        Jesus' death as atoning.

        Again, how do you explain this?

        Yours,

        Jeffrey
        --

        Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

        1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
        Chicago, IL 60626

        jgibson000@...



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Crispin Fletcher-Louis
        Richard, Geoffrey, Liz and all, I ve come in a little late to this fascinating discussion about the high priest in atonement. But may I offer a few
        Message 3 of 21 , Nov 12, 2003
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          Richard, Geoffrey, Liz and all,
          I've come in a little late to this fascinating discussion about the high
          priest in atonement. But may I offer a few observations:

          1. In response to Geoffrey's question, 'how come no one has suggested this
          high priestly context for atonement before?' I would suggest this is because
          the high priest has been ignored, period. (see my article at
          http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/jesus.pdf)

          2. Richard's ideas need now to be supplemented by a consideration of
          Margaret Barker's thesis that the goat 'lyhwh' on the Day of Atonement is a
          substitute for the high priest (who plays the role of YHWH) in the cultic
          drama. It is the blood of this goat that makes the atonement (in the
          pre-eminent act of atonement) as a substitute for the life (i.e. Death) of
          the high priest/yhwh. (See e.g. M. Barker, The Revelation of Jesus Christ
          (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2000), 45 ...; M. Barker, The Great High Priest.
          The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (London: T. & T. Clark, 2003), chapter
          3). In both books Barker has fascinating interpretative observations on a
          number of late second temple texts to support her thesis.

          3. For further texts relating the suffering of the high priesthood and the
          Day of Atonement - supportive of Barker's thesis, though not explicitly
          referring to atoning suffering, see C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, "The Revelation
          of the Sacral Son of Man: The Genre, History of Religions Context and the
          Meaning of the Transfiguration," Auferstehung - Resurrection. The Fourth
          Durham-Tübingen-Symposium: Resurrection, Exaltation, and Transformation in
          Old Testament, Ancient Judaism, and Early Christianity (eds. F. Avemarie and
          H. Lichtenberger; WUNT 135; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2001) 247-298 (pp.
          286-88).

          4. With regards to the Pauline language of putting off the old body and
          putting on the new one, that Liz quotes, this too might, in fact, be very
          adequately explained in terms of a (high) priestly background given the
          evidence from Philo that different priestly garments were identified with
          different physical/non-physical states. (Barker mounts an impressive case
          that here Philo attests mainstream Jewish thinking).

          Yours

          Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis


          Dept. of Theology,
          University of Nottingham,
          UK
        • Jeffrey B. Gibson
          ... This link doesn t seem to work. Jeffrey -- Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.) 1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1 Chicago, IL 60626 jgibson000@comcast.net [Non-text
          Message 4 of 21 , Nov 12, 2003
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            Crispin Fletcher-Louis wrote:

            > Richard, Geoffrey, Liz and all,
            > I've come in a little late to this fascinating discussion about the
            > high
            > priest in atonement. But may I offer a few observations:
            >
            > 1. In response to Geoffrey's question, 'how come no one has
            > suggested this
            > high priestly context for atonement before?' I would suggest this is
            > because
            > the high priest has been ignored, period. (see my article at
            > http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/jesus.pdf)
            >

            This link doesn't seem to work.

            Jeffrey
            --

            Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

            1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
            Chicago, IL 60626

            jgibson000@...



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Crispin Fletcher-Louis
            Geoffrey, ... Sorry about that. In that case, you¹ll have to go to http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/ And then scroll down the page until you get to ŒJesus and
            Message 5 of 21 , Nov 12, 2003
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              Geoffrey,

              >> http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/jesus.pdf)
              >>
              >
              > This link doesn't seem to work.
              >
              Sorry about that. In that case, you¹ll have to go to
              http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/
              And then scroll down the page until you get to ŒJesus and the High Priest
              (Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis)¹ under Theme 14.

              I hope that works.
              Crispin.



              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Jeffrey B. Gibson
              ... Thanks for this. I look forward to reading your paper. May I note, though, that one of my reasons for not seeing the death of the high priest, whether
              Message 6 of 21 , Nov 12, 2003
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                Crispin Fletcher-Louis wrote:

                > Richard, Geoffrey, Liz and all,
                > I've come in a little late to this fascinating discussion about the
                > high
                > priest in atonement. But may I offer a few observations:
                >
                > 1. In response to Geoffrey's question, 'how come no one has
                > suggested this
                > high priestly context for atonement before?' I would suggest this is
                > because
                > the high priest has been ignored, period. (see my article at
                > http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/jesus.pdf)
                >
                > 2. Richard's ideas need now to be supplemented by a consideration of
                > Margaret Barker's thesis that the goat 'lyhwh' on the Day of Atonement
                > is a
                > substitute for the high priest (who plays the role of YHWH) in the
                > cultic
                > drama. It is the blood of this goat that makes the atonement (in the
                > pre-eminent act of atonement) as a substitute for the life (i.e.
                > Death) of
                > the high priest/yhwh. (See e.g. M. Barker, The Revelation of Jesus
                > Christ
                > (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 2000), 45 ...; M. Barker, The Great High
                > Priest.
                > The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (London: T. & T. Clark, 2003),
                > chapter
                > 3). In both books Barker has fascinating interpretative observations
                > on a
                > number of late second temple texts to support her thesis.

                Thanks for this. I look forward to reading your paper. May I note,
                though, that one of my reasons for not seeing the "death" of the high
                priest, whether on the Day of Atonement or not, as the origin of the
                belief in the atoning significance of Jesus is that the language used to
                describe the significance of Jesus death -- especially in Paul and in
                his "died for us/our sins" formula (the background of which is largely
                Greek) ---- has little in common with the imagery or the language
                surrounding the Temple cult and never seems to allude to the DoA..

                Perhaps you deal with this in your article?

                Yours,

                Jeffrey
                --

                Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

                1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
                Chicago, IL 60626

                jgibson000@...



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Brian Trafford
                ... mula.pdf Hi Jeffrey Would it be possible for you to link this particular essay into the XTalk archives? Thank you, Brian Trafford Calgary, AB, Canada
                Message 7 of 21 , Nov 13, 2003
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                  --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Jeffrey B. Gibson"
                  <jgibson000@c...> wrote:
                  >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JBGibsonWritings/files/Paul27sDyingFor
                  mula.pdf

                  Hi Jeffrey

                  Would it be possible for you to link this particular essay into the
                  XTalk archives?

                  Thank you,

                  Brian Trafford
                  Calgary, AB, Canada
                • Jeffrey B. Gibson
                  ... It s now at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2/files/Paul%27sDyingFormula.pdf Jeffrey -- Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.) 1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
                  Message 8 of 21 , Nov 13, 2003
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                    Brian Trafford wrote:

                    > --- In crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com, "Jeffrey B. Gibson"
                    > <jgibson000@c...> wrote:
                    > >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JBGibsonWritings/files/Paul27sDyingFor
                    > mula.pdf
                    >
                    > Hi Jeffrey
                    >
                    > Would it be possible for you to link this particular essay into the
                    > XTalk archives?
                    >

                    It's now at:

                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2/files/Paul%27sDyingFormula.pdf

                    Jeffrey

                    --

                    Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)

                    1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
                    Chicago, IL 60626

                    jgibson000@...



                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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