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Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament & Contemporary Contexts [Paperback]

By Joel B. Green (Author) & Mark D. Baker (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   232
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.02" Width: 5.96" Height: 0.66"
Weight:   0.72 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2000
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830815716  
EAN  9780830815715  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Two thousand years of Western art and architecture and culture have blinded us to what was most obvious to first-century eyes---the utter scandal of the cross.

Publishers Description
The cross is the defining symbol of the Christian faith. Yet the Roman cross was first and foremost an instrument of cruel, shameful and violent execution. Early Christians quickly recognized the atoning significance of the cross of Christ, and it resonated deeply with their experience of salvation. But the cross remained a blessing framed by scandal, an epochal and yet mysterious event irreducible to a single formulation.As Joel Green and Mark Baker demonstrate, the New Testament displays a rich array of interpretations of the cross. These were shaped by the church in mission as it rooted the saving story of a scandalous cross in the language of everyday realities and relationships. But for many Christians today, not only has the true scandal of the cross been obscured, the variety of its New Testament interpretations have been reduced to subpoints in a single, controlling view of the atonement. Tragically, the way in which the atonement is frequently and popularly expressed now poses a new scandal, one that is foreign to the New Testament and poses needless obstacles to twenty-first century peoples and cultures.At the heart of this book is a challenge for us to view afresh the variety of contextual understandings of the death of Christ in the New Testament and to reconsider how we can faithfully communicate with fresh models the atoning significance of the cross for specific contexts today. The authors explore how the atonement has been understood within a variety of contemporary contexts--both Western and non-Western--and show how we can enter into the thoroughly Christian mission of restating the saving scandal of the cross in our multicultural world of the twenty-first century.

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More About Joel B. Green & Mark D. Baker

Joel B. Green Joel B. Green (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is dean of the School of Theology and professor of New Testament interpretation at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Theological Interpretation and has authored or edited numerous books, including the Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics.
Lee Martin McDonald (PhD, University of Edinburgh), before his retirement, was professor of New Testament studies and president of Acadia Divinity College. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including The Story of Jesus in History and Faith, The Biblical Canon, and coeditor of The Canon Debate (with James Sanders). McDonald now lives in Mesa, Arizona.

Joel B. Green currently resides in Wilmore, in the state of Kentucky. Joel B. Green was born in 1956 and has an academic affiliation as follows - American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, California Fuller Th.

Joel B. Green has published or released items in the following series...
  1. American Society of Missiology Monograph
  2. IVP Bible Dictionary
  3. Methods in Biblical Interpretation
  4. New International Commentary on the New Testament
  5. New Testament Theology
  6. Reframing New Testament Theology
  7. Studies in Theological Interpretation
  8. Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic
  9. Two Horizons New Testament Commentary

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A departure from the faith  Mar 27, 2008
Controversial, provocative, heretical. This book, while pretending to be evangelical, denies the very heart of the atonement.
Good news about the Good News  Mar 14, 2007
What is scandalous about the cross of Jesus and why do Christians need to recover it? According to the authors, the cross is scandalous insofar as it turns all the categories of the world--failure and success, master and servant, sin and redemption--upside down. Not only are Jesus' disciples in the Gospel of Luke confounded by the apparent failure of his mission (i.e., dying on a cross rather than leading Israel as newly anointed Davidic king), but also the entire project of salvation involves God becoming human and DYING out of his love for humanity. Contemporary mainstream American Christianity, with its self-assured and monochromatic emphasis on individual salvation through God's redemptive violence, too often misses the subversive and countercultural dimensions of the scandalous cross. In this powerful examination of the models and meanings of the cross in Christian history and theology, Green and Baker provide an antidote to this monochromatic gospel by revealing the ambiguity of the cross and challenging the reader's preconceived notions about what the New Testament itself says about salvation in Christ.

For the earliest followers of Jesus, his death "on a Roman cross was an event that lacked within itself a self-evident, unambiguous interpretation" (11). In fact, according to the authors, while the earliest Christians affirmed the centrality of Christ's death on the cross to their salvation, they didn't seem to worry too much about how it had its saving effect. The New Testament itself uses a wealth of different metaphors to describe the salvation obtained through the cross--justification, redemption, reconciliation, sacrifice, triumph--and because these different terms with their subtle shades of meaning get elided in the monochrome of penal substitution theology, the authors spend two full chapters examining these metaphors and teasing out their possible nuances in the context of early Christianity.

The diversity of meanings ascribed to the cross isn't limited to the discourses of Christian scripture, either. In the fifth chapter, the authors outline and critique several historical interpretations of the cross, including the Christus Victor model of Irenaeus and Gregory Nyssa, the Satisfaction model of Anselm of Canterbury, the Moral Influence model of Peter Abelard, and the contemporary model of penal substitution. (This chapter alone is with the price of the book.) In chapters six, seven, and eight, the authors examine the significance of the cross in other, non-Western cultures, revealing the diversity within contemporary global Christianity and using these cross-cultural perspectives to illuminate blind spots in American penal atonement theology.

The authors' efforts in this book are not mere intellectual exercises, either. As the authors repeatedly point out, the cross of Christ grounds the gospels in this world as much as in the next, because it was abusive political power and the desire to protect privilege that lead the Jewish and Roman authorities to execute an innocent man. The ambiguous, scandalous cross challenges all of our received notions about the status quo, and addresses contemporary social issues like racism, social justice, extremes of wealth and poverty, environmental degradation, and our very relationship to the rest of the world. The penal substitution atonement, with its overemphasis on the individual and her sinfulness, omits any critique of our cultural norms and institutions as unnecessary to Christian discipleship. "Given the diversity of witness to the saving significance of the cross in the New Testament, should we not look with caution, even dismay, when we see the atonement articulated in terms of one model only, and especially when that model coheres so fully with the emphasis on autonomous individualism characteristic of so much of the modern middle class in the West" (213). The authors provide ample reason for us to view the contemporary Christian theological scene with dismay, but they also afford the reader many opportunities to look at the Good New anew. And that is definitely good news.
There is so much more!  May 18, 2006
This book gave me a glimpse of a bigger cross than the one I learned in church. As a pastor, I am embarrassed at how long I described the work of Jesus on the cross as merely Jesus taking the punishment I deserve. Jesus came to rescue the broken, not just pay an overdue bill.

My conversations with those that do not know Jesus are so much richer today because of my understanding of the multiple facets of the cross. No, I can no longer pencil it all out on a napkin, but people respond to Jesus b/c he meets them where they are at. Their story becomes his story.

The world needs to see Jesus, the Gospel, the cross through multiple facets - I like this Jesus!
A book that opens a much needed discussion...  Nov 14, 2000
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. For too long evangelicalism has allowed penal substitution to remain the dominate model, without seriously looking at the implications and consequences of this model. This book opens up the question of atonement in evangelicalism to re-examination, while still trying to be faithful to the biblical text.

Finally, a note to those who might be scared off by all this theological language. Don't be! This book is dense, but also very readable and understandable and would be a valuable resource for anyone interested in recovering the scandal of the cross for their own contexts.

Also, for those of you who have read this book, more of Mark's writing can be found [on the internet].


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