Hebrews and the Atonement

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Hebrews is often read as highlighting the death and exaltation of Jesus while downplaying or ignoring his resurrection. The event of Jesus’s crucifixion is assumed to be the sacrifice whereby he made atonement. When, therefore, the author says that Jesus passed through the heavens as high priest (Heb 4:14), appears now before the Father in the heavenly tabernacle, and offers himself there (Heb 9:24–26), this exaltation language tends to be interpreted as part of a metaphor that draws on the Jewish Day of Atonement in order to explain the soteriological significance of the historical event of Jesus’s death. Such an interpretation comes into question, however, if Jesus’s bodily resurrection is an important assumption for Hebrews’ larger argument about Jesus’s atoning work. Assuming the resurrection, Hebrews’ account of Jesus’s sacrifice and atoning work aligns more coherently with a Pentateuchal account of covenant and the process of Levitical sacrifice than modern interpreters have typically noticed. Jesus now serves in the heavenly holy of holies mediating and maintaining the new covenant by way of his ongoing high-priestly intercession for his people.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles
EditorsPatrick Gray
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Chapter11
Pages197-214
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780190904364
ISBN (Print)9780190904333
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • Atonement
  • Ascension
  • Covenant
  • Day of Atonement
  • Hebrews
  • High priest
  • Passover
  • Resurrection
  • Sacrifice

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