N.T. Wright and the Atonement: Part 1, Atonement as Passover

There are many great insights in N.T. Wright's book on the atonement The Day the Revolution Began. I'd like to use this post an the next to bring attention to two insights I found very helpful (in addition to an insight I shared before).

The first insight has to do with the gospels. As Wright points out, scholars have often claimed that the gospels lack an atonement theology. What that gospels give us, it is claimed, is simply a dramatic narrative of Jesus' arrest, trial, passion, death and resurrection. A story without a lot of theological commentary.

Wright counters that the gospels do, in fact, have an atonement theology. The gospels present Jesus as taking great pains to make his stand in Jerusalem at the Passover feast. This is significant because Jesus could have made his stand in Jerusalem at a different feast, the Day of Atonement.

According to Wright, that the gospels present Jesus' death as occurring during Passover is, in fact, an atonement theology. The death of Jesus is understood by the gospels to be a Passover, rather than a Day of Atonement, event.

To be clear, Day of Atonement imagery and motifs are highlighted in the gospels (more on this in the next post), but Passover is the dominant, regulating story. In this the gospels are highlighting Christus Victor themes of slavery and emancipation.

According to the gospels, Jesus death liberates us from dark, enslaving forces in the same way the Passover saved Israel from bondage, Pharaoh and the Angel of Death.

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