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Rethinking the Atonement: New Perspectives on Jesus’s Death, Resurrection, and Ascension

ISBN: 9781540966230
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Traditional views on the atonement tend to be reductive, focusing solely on Jesus’s death on the cross. In his 2011 groundbreaking book Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews, David Moffitt challenged that paradigm, showing how the atonement is a fuller process. It involves not only Jesus’s death but also his resurrection, ascension, offering, and exaltation.

In the succeeding years, Moffitt has continued to expand and clarify his thinking on this issue. This book offers a more fulsome articulation of his work on the atonement that reflects his recent thinking on the topic. Moffitt continues to challenge reductive views of the atonement, primarily from the book of Hebrews, but he engages other New Testament passages as well. He offers fresh insights on sacrifice and atonement, the importance of resurrection and ascension, Jesus’s role as priest, and a new perspective on Hebrews.

This important book brings Moffitt’s award-winning and influential scholarship to a broader audience. The book includes a foreword by N. T. Wright.

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  • Provides fresh insights on sacrifice and atonement
  • Continues to challenge reductive views of the atonement
  • Offers a more fulsome articulation of his work on the atonement that reflects his recent thinking on the topic
  • Foreword by N. T. Wright
  • Rethinking the Atonement: An Introduction
  • Modeled on Moses: Jesus's Death, Passover, and the Defeat of the Devil in the Epistle to the Hebrews
  • Wilderness Identity and Pentateuchal Narrative: Distinguishing between Jesus’s Inauguration and Maintenance of the New Covenant in Hebrews
  • Isaiah 53, Hebrews, and Covenant Renewal
  • “If Another Priest Arises”: Jesus’s Resurrection and the High-Priestly Christology of Hebrews
  • Blood, Life, and Atonement: Reassessing Hebrews' Christological Appropriation of Yom Kippur
  • Weak and Useless? Purity, the Mosaic Law, and Perfection in Hebrews
  • Serving in the Tabernacle in Heaven: Sacred Space, Jesus’s High-Priestly Sacrifice, and Hebrews’ Analogical Theology
  • It Is Not Finished: Jesus’s Perpetual Atoning Work as the Heavenly High Priest in Hebrews
  • Observations on Directional Features of the Incarnation and Jesus’s Sacrifice in Hebrews
  • Jesus’s Heavenly Sacrifice in Early Christian Reception of Hebrews: A Survey
  • Righteous Bloodshed, Matthew’s Passion Narrative, and the Temple’s Destruction: Lamentations as a Matthean Intertext
  • The Sign of Jonah and the Prophet Motif in the Gospel of Matthew: Moving toward the Gentile Mission
  • Atonement at the Right Hand: The Sacrificial Significance of Jesus’s Exaltation in Acts
  • Affirming the “Creed”: The Extent of Paul’s Citation of an Early Christian Formula in 1 Corinthians 15:3b-7
Moffitt brings together several substantial, probing chapters covering a wide range of issues, mostly in Hebrews but with important extra material on Matthew, Luke-Acts, and the early 'creed' in 1 Corinthians 15. Backed up by a wealth of detailed exegetical and theological argument, he engages with scholarly debate not only to answer critics of his earlier proposals (though he does that trenchantly, not least by a detailed study of patristic sources) but to extend his proposals into several areas where the modern reappraisal of the ancient Jewish world, so vital for today's studies of Jesus and Paul, needs to be worked through in terms of what Hebrews is actually saying--which is somewhat different from what many have assumed. The result is an eye-opening series of arguments, each one of which now needs to be pondered and integrated into our overall assessment of Hebrews and its contribution to early Christian thought as a whole. Moffitt clearly relishes both the fine-grained detail of biblical exegesis and the larger theological picture that emerges from it, and all who share these passions will richly enjoy his writing.

—N. T. Wright

Rarely does a new body of scholarship come along that compels us to rethink what we thought we knew about the New Testament. Moffitt's work on the Letter to the Hebrews is exactly that sort of game-changing intervention. This new collection of deeply researched essays builds upon and persuasively amplifies his earlier interpretations of resurrection and atonement in Hebrews, while also illuminating the theology of other New Testament documents. For those whose faculties have been trained by practice to recognize serious and illuminating exegesis, this book is not milk but solid food.

—Richard B. Hays, George Washington Ivey Distinguished Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Duke University

Moffitt argues compelling that while Jesus's death on a cross completes the earthly work of salvation, his priestly work in heaven continues, and this too is part of his saving, and atoning, work. This collection of essays is not simply a rethinking but a Copernican Revolution in atonement theology, both because it concerns the movement of a celestial body (the risen and ascended Jesus Christ) and because it calls for a reversal of some traditional soteriological polarities.

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

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  1. Ryan Riley

    Ryan Riley


    Rethinking the Atonement is a collection of essays related to Jesus' atoning work. If you expect "on the cross" to complete that previous sentence, then this is a book you should consider reading. Dr. Moffitt convincingly argues for a slightly different understanding of Jesus' atoning work in light of Hebrews. Specifically, the cross is only part of the work: the shedding of blood outside the tent. The resurrection, ascension, and the intercession of Jesus before the throne of God all come into better focus as part of this work. Other recent works have successfully argued for understanding the cross, resurrection, and ascension as related to Jesus becoming King. Jesus is both King and High Priest, and Dr. Moffitt completes the picture by tying the story of the gospels to this additional and vital role of Jesus. The content is a little repetitious due to this being a collection of essays, but I found the repeated content helpful in re-establishing the context. Rethinking the Atonement has given me a lot to consider, and I'm grateful for this fresh perspective of the atonement.