Jesus’ Death in New Testament Thought is unlike anything written on the subject to date. It represents a radical break with the traditional models or “theories” of atonement based on ideas such as penal substitution, participation in Christ, and the Christus Victor motif, claiming that all of these ideas as commonly understood are foreign to New Testament thought. In particular, on the basis of his analysis of second-temple Jewish thought, Brondos demonstrates that, for Jews in antiquity, what atoned for sins and led people to be declared righteous in God’s sight was not sacrifice, suffering, or death in themselves, but the renewed commitment to living in accordance with God’s will which they manifested by means of their sacrificial offerings and at times their willingness to endure suffering and death out of faithfulness to that will.
According to the thought of Jesus’ first followers as reflected in the New Testament texts, in Jesus God had sent his Son in order to establish around him a community of people fully committed to practicing the love, justice, righteousness, and solidarity associated with God’s will for all. Jesus’ dedication to this task led to conflict with the powers and authorities of his day, who sought to silence him by having him put to death. Because he stood firm and remained faithful to the task given him rather than backing down, he was crucified on a Roman cross.
Paradoxically, however, in this way he laid the basis for the existence of the community God had desired from the start, stamping it forever as one to which no one could truly belong without assuming the same firm commitment to Jesus and everything for which he had lived and died.
Those who form part of this community, living out of faith under Jesus as their risen Lord, come to practice God’s will as redefined through Jesus and on that basis are forgiven and accepted as righteous by God. Thus, by giving up his life out of love for others in faithfulness to the task his Father had given him, Jesus has attained the redemption, reconciliation, cleansing, and justification of those who now live under his lordship as members of the worldwide community of believers from all nations that God has established through him and his death, in fulfillment of the promises God had made to Israel.
In Volume 1, Brondos looks to the relevant texts from antiquity to trace the background and development of these ideas. In the second volume, he examines the formulaic allusions to Jesus’ death that we find scattered throughout the New Testament and other early Christian writings so as to demonstrate that it is the ideas just outlined, rather than those associated with the traditional models or “theories” of atonement, that lie behind those allusions. At the same time, through his analysis of the writings of Melito of Sardis and Irenaeus of Lyons, he provides clear evidence that, by the late second century, ideas that are foreign to the New Testament texts began to be read back into them, with the result that the original understandings of Jesus’ death that had developed among his first followers came to be replaced by other understandings that run contrary to their thought
Volume 1: Background
Hardback – 660 pages
Volume 2: Texts
Hardback – 602 Pages + Bibliography and Indexes