Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Jesus in the Drama of Salvation: Toward a Biblical Doctrine of Redemption

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Jesus in the Drama of Salvation: Toward a Biblical Doctrine of Redemption

Article excerpt

Jesus in the Drama of Salvation: Toward a Biblical Doctrine of Redemption. By Raymund Schwager. Translated by James G. Williams and Paul Haddon. New York: Crossroad, 1999. ix + 245 pp. $24.95 (paper).

Raymund Schwager, who is a Jesuit theologian at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, has written a dense, important work on the Atonement of Christ. He draws on Rene Guard's ideas concerning the death of violence in the death of Christ, as well as on Hans Urs von Balthasar's conception of theo-- dramatik (God-drama), to make a late twentieth-century statement on the Passion and its implications for contemporary human beings. The work is weighty. It is worth every bit of the $24.95 that Crossroad asks for it.

Schwager is in dialogue with Karl Barth's Atonement picture of the Judge become the Judged. He wants to portray the action of Christ in acquiescing to unjust accusation and judicial murder as a drama between Victim and victimizers that is not so much God's drama as it is our drama. The author is conversing with Anselm and Luther via Barth. He is upfront about that. He is also in dialogue with contemporary German theologians, most of them Protestant, who debate the "inclusive" vs. the "exclusive" nature of Jesus' substitution for sinners. See the fulcrum section of this book on pages 191-- 196. It is entitled "Substitution and the Hermeneutic of Judgment" and is the hinge point for Schwager's very rich concluding chapter "Systematic Considerations." Has any American or British theologian save Dan Bailey really grasped the nettle on this one and opened up the massive German-language literature of recent decades on the theme of substitution?

I would take issue with the Austrian's allergy to the very ancient Christian notion that God Himself is chief actor/agent in the drama of redemption. …

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