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Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament & Contemporary Contexts Paperback – August 24, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Joel Green and Mark Baker offer a richly-textured interpretation which does justice both to the variety of models of atonement in the Bible and to the varieties of postmodern culture. This is thought-provoking theology for a mission context." (Stephen Travis, formerly Vice-Principal of St. John's College, Nottingham UK)

"In the second edition of Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, Baker and Green continue the important conversation about the doctrine of the atonement by responding to new proposals and to critics of the book's first edition. . . . Most helpful is their insightful treatment of non-Western views of the cross which pushes forward evangelical attempts at cultural contextualization without sheer accommodation. Everyone interested in cutting-edge theological thinking about the atonement must read this second edition." (Roger E. Olson, professor of theology, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University)

"By focusing on the importance of narrative context, language and metaphor, this book recaptures some of the mystery and complexity of New Testament views of atonement. Besides engaging recent debates on the salvific meaning of the crucifixion, this revised edition surveys New Testament, historical, and contemporary models of the atonement, revealing unintended side effects of a contemporary model of penal satisfaction. Scholars and pastors will gain from the insights of this clear and well-researched study--one that shows the necessity of doing theology that relates to the mission of the church in every context and generation." (Frances S. Adeney, William A. Benfield Jr. Professor of Evangelism and Global Mission, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary)

About the Author

Joel B. Green is dean of the school of theology and professor of New Testament interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. Among his several books are The Gospel of Luke, and (with John T. Carroll) The Death of Jesus in Early Christianity.

Mark D. Baker is assistant professor of mission and theology at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California. He is the author of Religious No More: Building Communities of Grace and Freedom.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; Probable 1st edition (August 24, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830815716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830815715
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #906,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The book offers a critique of the penal substitution model of atonement. Penal substitution is found through evangelical theology, and enjoys wide popularity today (see for example Christianity Today's "Call for Unity" of June 14th for a list of theologians and authors who consent to this view). The book begins with an examination of the various "models" or "ways of speaking about atonement" present in the New Testament. The authors argue that the New Testament writers did not present only one view of the atoning work of the cross, but instead presented a variety of metaphors and models that were rooted in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and connected to the specific contexts of the writers.
The book then proceeds to survey some models of atonement from church history, looking at thinkers such as Irenaeus, Anselm, Charles Hodge and others. With respect to Hodge and penal substituion, the authors argue that Hodge's notion of justice is too deeply entrenched in a Western idea of justice, and can lead to a warped view of God. The book concludes with examples of people who are trying to re-articulate the saving significance of the cross today in their own specific contexts.
This book is an important book because it highlights the need for evangelical Christians to think seriously about how to contextualize the message of the atonement. If missionaries in Africa or Japan need to contextualize the gospel, why shouldn't Western Christians do the same? This book is a call for Christians in North America to re-engage their culture with a message of the cross that speaks clearly into their situation.
This book is also important because it offers a balanced, biblical critique of penal substitution.
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Format: Paperback
It is hard to believe it has been ten years since the first edition of Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New testament and Contemporary Contexts. Now, ten years later, Mark D. Baker and Joel B. Green have released the second edition of there highly controversial work.

Of course, the controversy surrounding this book is well known among evangelicals--Baker and Green question the legitimacy of penal substitutionary atonement and argue for an eclectic reading of atonement theology. Authors such as Mark Driscoll have warned that such books are detrimental to the Christian faith and are not helpful. Others, such as Derek Tidball, have stated that it is difficult to imagine an Evangelical Christian denying penal substitutionary atonement. Entire books, such as Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, have been written in defense against Baker and Green's argument.

Which leads us to Recovering the Scandal of the Cross. The basic structure of the book is as follows: after an introduction outlining the problems of atonement theology today, Baker and Green look at the various ways atonement is presented in the Old and New Testament. Afterward they look at the saving significance of Jesus death. From there they assess church history, looking at the various dominant views of atonement and arguing that penal substitution is a relative late-comer on the scene. Finally, the last few chapters place their entire discussion in the practical realm of missions by analyzing atonement theology in Japanese culture, how the Christus Victor model might be appropriated practically and finally, discussing various views of the ongoing significance of Christ's death and how we might communicate that significance today.
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God's self-giving goodness and his determined commitment to rescue and redeem his creation were demonstrated two thousand years ago on a Roman cross. This is the guiding conviction that animates Mark Baker and Joel Green's exploration of the meaning and scope of the atonement in the second edition of Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Contexts.

Through careful biblical exposition, historical analysis, and philosophical reflection upon how language and metaphor work, Baker (a Mennonite) and Green (a Methodist) once again compellingly demonstrate the depth and breadth of meaning of the cross, the variety of metaphors that can (and must) be used to communicate this, and the missional possibilities this understanding opens up to and for the church.

In 2000, when the first edition of Recovering the Scandal, was published, the atonement debates in the evangelical world had not risen to the prominence that they would later in the decade. Baker and Green's book, however, served as something of a lighting rod in parts of the evangelical world in the second half of the 21st century's first decade. Many felt that in arguing for the adoption of a variety of metaphors to communicate the saving significance of the cross, Baker and Green were going soft on sin, that they were downplaying the wrath of God, that they were diluting the gospel, etc.

Readers of Recovering the Scandal will discover, however, that the authors' views of the atonement do, indeed, fit squarely within the parameters of historical Christian orthodoxy. Baker and Green were and are quite clear that Jesus death is substitutionary (i.e., on our behalf) and that our sin is part of the problem that the cross solves.
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