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(how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference)

Narrative substitutionary atonement in Luke: Jesus and the sins of Barabbas

Last night I went to hear Steve Walton’s inaugural professorial lecture at St Mary’s University. The lecture was entitled “Doing Theology Lukewise: Luke as theologian and storyteller”. It was a straightforward demonstration of the theological depth of Luke’s narrative art. It was lucid, engaging, and I enjoyed it immensely.

One of the main points that Steve wanted to make was that, contrary to popular opinion, Luke has an atonement theology—it’s just that he constructs it narratively rather than as a matter of explicit theological assertion.

10 Mar 2017

Perhaps a bit more clarification is needed. I argued in the last piece on Hebrews that there is no deep metaphysical magic involved in what is said about atonement in the letter.

It is the resurrection that changes everything. This was a continuation of a couple of other posts setting out a “pragmatic...

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9 Mar 2017

I started looking at Hebrews 10 in order to reply to a comment from Chris Wooldridge, who cited the chapter as an example of how Jesus’ death is treated not only as a historical event but also as a theological or metaphysical event.

But you quickly discover that Hebrews 10 is part of a long, dense,...

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3 Mar 2017

In his excellent essay on mystical transformation in Philo and Paul, Volker Rabens says of 2 Corinthians 3:18: “Many who have tried to grasp the nuances of Paul’s argument in this passage have at times felt that they themselves have a veil over their minds” (297-98). A.T. Hanson called it...

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2 Mar 2017

What does Paul mean when he says: “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18)? Over the last couple of posts I have been tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of exegesis.

Initially I...

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1 Mar 2017

In the previous piece on being transformed into the image of Christ, I included 1 Corinthians 3:18 in a wider pattern in Paul whereby conformity to the image of Christ means specifically sharing in his suffering and resurrection:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding (or reflecting) the glory...

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1 Mar 2017

I’ve just got back from a missions conference at which the idea that believers in general and “missionaries” in particular are being—or should be—transformed into the “image of Christ” got a lot of airtime.

I can see what people are getting at. The assumption is that Jesus represents either an ideal way of...

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21 Feb 2017

The title of the previous piece (“The death of Jesus: not as difficult to understand as you might think”) was perhaps a mistake. I suspect that many people found my narrative-historical reinterpretation as baffling as the classical theories of the atonement, if not more so.

In my defence I would say that the...

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17 Feb 2017

Peter Enns has written in his characteristically provocative style about two issues in the Bible that are really important but not at all clear.

The first has to do with Israelite origins. We can be reasonably confident about the broad outline of Israelite history back to the reign of David, but earlier than...

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