Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Defending Substitution: An Essay on Atonement in Paul

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Defending Substitution: An Essay on Atonement in Paul

Article excerpt

Defending Substitution: An Essay on Atonement in Paul. By Simon Gathercole. Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015, Pp. 128. $19.99, paper.)

Simon Gathercole's Defending Substitution is surprisingly short, more a thick Frog and Toad Are Friends than a thin Church Dogmatics. But the book's brevity makes its feat all the more impressive: Gathercole sets out to defend substitutionary atonement, and he succeeds.

In his introduction, Gathercole distinguishes substitution- which means "in our place, instead of us" (15)-from its theological cousins. Substitution is conceptually distinct from-but compatible with-punishment, because Christ could have carried our sins away without being punished for them (19); from representation, because substitution entails replacement, whereas representation does not (20); from propitiation, as when Iphigenia was sacrificed, but not in someone else's place (21), and from satisfaction, which does not require a substitute (22).

Chapter 1 offers "three of the most intellectually compelling explanations of nonsubstitutionary approaches to the atonement" (30): Tiibingen's representative place-taking (30-38); Morna Hooker's interchange (38-42), and apocalyptic difference as advocated byj. Louis Martyn (42-47). Gathercole highlights their individual weaknesses but emphasizes an overarching criticism: they are all guilty of "downplaying sins, that is, individual transgressions" (47). A list of the fifteen different words or phrases regularly translated "sin" or "sins" shows that "Paul refers to individual instances of transgressions a great many times" (49).

Chapter 2 focuses on 1 Corinthians 15:3. "Dying for our sins" is conceptually distinct from "dying for us" (55), but it's the former rather than the later that Paul designates "of first importance" (57-59). …

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