Does the Messiah have to die to pay for his people's sins? Is the cross of Jesus an atoning sacrifice? In recent decades a burgeoning number of theologians have answered the aforementioned questions in the negative. In fact some, like Rene Girard, have gone so far as to assert that seeing the cross as an atoning sacrifice undermines the very essence of the New Testament Gospels.
While Girard and others following in a similar vein have offered provocative alterations to soteriology that no longer need Jesus's death to acquire forgiveness from God, does a bloodless atonement have biblical support? Does a nonviolent understanding of the atonement harmonize with the Gospels? This particular volume answers these questions with a fresh look at the Synoptic portraits of the Last Supper accounts. In them Jesus expounds upon the significance of his death by using the Passover symbols of bread and wine. More importantly, in these passages in the Gospels we find the fullest articulation of how Jesus's death benefits his followers. Holding a wealth of dense theological riches, these passages provide theological parameters that can inform contemporary soteriological development, especially that which appeals to the New Testament for its basis. Conversant with both biblical studies and contemporary theology, the work seeks to bring the best of both fields into conversation in productive new ways.
""In this exegetically insightful and theologically wise book, Benjamin Burkholder engages critically but appreciatively with Rene Girard and his theological disciples. The result is a significant, nuanced affirmation of the atonement in terms of sacrifice and covenant renewal. Highly recommended.""
--Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary's Seminary & University, Baltimore, Maryland
Benjamin J. Burkholder (PhD, Duquesne University) has taught philosophy, ethics, theology, and biblical studies at Duquesne University and La Roche College. At present he is an Adjunct Professor at La Roche College and Assistant Pastor of North Park Church. He is also the author of several articles published in Scottish Journal of Theology, Modern Theology, and Zeitschrift fur die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft.