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The Atonement: The Origins of the Doctrine in the New Testament Paperback – February 1, 2007


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The Atonement: The Origins of the Doctrine in the New Testament + The Son of God: The Origin of Christology and the History of Jewish-Hellenistic Religion + Between Jesus and Paul: Studies in the Earliest History of Christianity
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub; Reprint edition (February 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155635231X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556352317
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #870,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jeri Nevermind VINE VOICE on November 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
n case you're wondering who Martin Hengel is: he's the Emeritus Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism at the University of Tubingen, Germany. Oh yes. And he's the most widely respected biblical scholar in the world.

He is so justly famous that every scrap he produces is translated and published again and again.

"Atonement", is very short--a mere 107 pages. Yet it is very powerful. A host of liberal scholars have argued that the doctrine of the atoning death of Christ did not exist in the beginning days of Christianity.

Hengel shreds their arguments to bits. There was a truly significant break with Temple cult in Jerusalem from the first moment of Christianity, as exemplified by the death of Stephen. This break "did not come without harsh resistance...This break was explained in terms of the revolutionary insight that the death of the Messiah...had brought about once and for all" (p 47).

"If Jesus had not messianic features...the origin of the Christian kerygma would remain completely inexplicable" (p 48). Furthermore, the time between the writings of Paul announcing the atoning death of Jesus, and calling Jesus God, was far too short--especially given the songs we see embedded in Paul's epistles--to allow for major dogma change.

Hengel points out: ""The decisive statements must in fact already have been formulated in Greek some time before the calling of Paul. Otherwise, there would have been no uproar against Stephen" (p 49).

Indeed, it is notable that the unity of the church was preserved from the first. As if could not have been "had the community in Jerusalem not shared this belief in the soteriological efficacy of the death of Jesus.

This brief glance at Hengel's book scarcely touches the complex arguments he makes.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. E. Moore on March 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this concise but meaningful book, Martin Hengel demonstrates that the credal proclamation "Christ died for our sins" (1Cor. 15:3) goes back to Jesus himself. The idea of Jesus being a saviour was not foisted upon Christianity from paganism as so many critical scholars would have us believe.

Hengel admits that the idea of a martyr figure dying on behalf of his or her people was unknown to ancient Judaism which did not allow a cult of heroes. However, by the second century BCE, the Jewish faith integrated Hellenistic ideas perhaps to counter their Greek opponents. The book of Daniel promotes the idea of the righteous martyr which is even more explicit in the Maccabean literature.

The atonement doctrine can be traced to John the Baptist who provided an alternate form of salvation outside the Temple sacrificial system. It was from this mileau that Jesus and his disciples emerged. The execution of the righteous John the Baptist by the wicked Herod obviously had a profound effect upon how Jesus foresaw his own suffering and death. Hengel points out that the unique term "batism by fire" (Luke 12:50) and his words at the Last Supper are unparalleled and could not have been created by an evangelist. They are connected to Jesus fulfilling the role of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.

The idea of a heavenly atonement without the Temple posed a serious challenge to the High Priesthood. According to Hengel, the belief that Jesus died for our sins must have been formulated before Paul's conversion, "otherwise there would have been no uproar against Stephen and the Hellenist members of the Jerusalem community". The kerygma which Saul of Tarsus tried to stamp out was based upon the radical and offensive proclamation that the Messiah died for our sins.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on July 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Martin Hengel is a scholar of the highest quality. He is careful in phrasing his ideas so as to be exact. I rate him as high as possible in terms of his ability to explain precisely his ideas. Each sentence carries the impact of a paragraph from some other writers.
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