Clement of Alexandria is mainly interested in matters of ethics and he makes little allusion to the special meaning of the Cross. He uses Old Testament prophecies and types comparatively little, as is natural in works addressed to Gentile readers, and usually in phrases derived directly from the New Testament, e.
We were ransomed by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb blameless and undented. In one noteworthy passage this is combined apparently with the idea of an expiatory sacrifice, exercising a magical cleansing effect quite apart from any question of the deserts of the recipients of the benefit.
Such sacrifices were well known in Egypt. Tov Ap, i. Bigg, Christian Platonists of Alexandria ed. And He is the propitiation for our sins, as John says, who heals both our body and our soul. Unto life He crucified death and dragging man away from destruction, uplifted him to the skies. For "reconciliation" cf.
Tp6s Strom, iv. The Lord then wished to free him from his chains, and clothing Himself in flesh O mystery Divine overcame the serpent and enslaved the tyrant death ; and, most wonderful of all, man that had been deceived by pleasure, and bound fast to corruption, had his hands unloosed and was set free. O mysterious wonder! The Lord was laid low, and man uprose, and he who fell from Paradise gains as reward something greater, even heaven itself. Tertullian, in so many ways one of the creative forces in the theology of the West, makes no contribution to the development of the doctrine of atonement.
His interests, like those of Clement of Alexandria, are severely ethical, and it is only in the reply to Marcion and in the short treatise " Against the Jews," amid all his voluminous works, that there is any very definite reference to the passion of Christ. The most important passage is a comment on Gal. The appeal to prophecy is held sufficient to account for the Cross, and Tertullian only feels it necessary to guard, as his predecessor had done, against the idea that the curse which rested upon Christ was the curse of the Father. The types of Christ in the Old Testament are also worked out in the reply to Marcion, and here Tertullian makes it clear that he assigns a unique value to the Cross for the putting away of sin.
Thus in expounding the brazen serpent he says : Did he not here also intend to shew the power of our Lord s cross, whereby that old serpent the devil was vanquished, whereby also to every man who was bitten by spiritual serpents, but who yet turned with an eye of faith to it, was proclaimed a cure from the bite of sin, and health for evermore? Alioquin Christus, qui dolum de ore suo locutus non est, quique omnem justitiam et humilitatem exhibuit, et, ut supra de eo praedictum memoravimus, non pro mentis suis in id genus mortis expositus est, sed ut ea quae praedicta sunt a prophetis per vos ei obventura implerentur Adv.
See also De Fuga, xii. There is no trace in him of any theory of a vicarious satisfaction offered to God. He believes, inconsistent though it may be with any conception of the unique value of the death of Christ, that the sinner can himself offer a certain satisfaction to God in penitence and in good works. It was taken up by Cyprian, 4 but only in language which echoes that of Tertullian, assigning to the penitence of the sinner the power to make satisfaction to God. It was not possible to apply the conception to the doctrine of Atonement until the Godward aspect of that doctrine came to be worked out, and up to the time of Anselm only desultory and fragmentary attempts were made at such a treatment of the subject.
For the present theological interest was concerned with theories either of a conquest of the devil by God, or of a transaction with the devil entered into by God. The conception of satisfaction was turned to other uses, and formed the basis of the doctrine of Merits, a doctrine 1 This thought leads up to that of Jonathan Edwards and McLeod Campbell, who saw that a perfect penitence, if it could be offered, would make satisfaction for sin.
The two writers, of course, draw widely different conclusions from this premiss. Also R. Both in the New Testament and in the immediately subsequent literature great stress had been laid upon the fact of the Atonement as solving for man the problem of sin. At the very centre of the Christian tradition stood the Cross, " to the Jews a snare, and to the Greeks folly ; but to the elect, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.
There is no better commentary on St. Paul s words, and no better witness to the place of the Cross in the thoughts and worship of the early Church, than the rude scratching, found on the Palatine Hill, of a crucified figure with an ass s head, and with the mocking inscrip tion, " Alexamenos worships his God. But emphasis upon the fact of tjie Atonement had not as yet led to theory. Great wealth of metaphor was employed to express the fact, but the meaning of the metaphors so used was never stressed. Interest was in the result of the fact upon the status of sinful 1 i Cor.
This balance of interest, which it has been the work of the last century to restore, was characteristic of the Greek Church. Throughout its early history there is found the same wealth of metaphor, based on the New Testament, used in the endeavour to describe the fact of the Atonement. Speculative interest was slight in this department. The philosophers of the Church were occupied with the great problems of the nature of the Godhead and of the Person of Christ, endeavouring to utilize the canons of Greek thought for the clearer statement of that which was implied in the Christian tradition.
Redemption remained throughout a fact rather than a doctrine. It was, indeed, by the fact of Redemption that rival doctrines of the Trinity or of the Incarnation were tested. That such a theory could stand for nine hundred years as the ordinary exposition of the fact of the Atonement is in itself a sufficient proof that the need for serious discussion of the doctrine had not as yet been felt. It was, indeed, the very crudity of this theory which, at the revival of theological learning, drove the Western Church to speculate on the doctrine, a process which has at times threatened to obscure the fact.
The appeal to redemptive value as the necessary condition to be satisfied by any doctrinal theory is well shown, for example, in the writings of Athanasius against Arianism. This does not, however, mean, as Harnack would seem to suggest, that the Chalce- donian doctrine is a Hellenistic distortion of primitive Christianity, but rather that the fact of redemption was so essential a part of the Christian experience that no doctrine incompatible with that fact could possibly survive.
Christianity was always a soteriology. As the speculation of isolated thinkers, more curious than their fellows in solving the deeper problems of the faith, it recurs again and again. Yet so great a scholar as Athanasius can write as though he had never heard of the theory as it is stated by Origen, and Gregory of Nazianzum expressly attacks it, despite the fact that his friend, Gregory of Nyssa, is one of its chief exponents. It is desirable,. This is the method which, at the risk of occasional repetition, is followed below.
We proceed, then, to consider the development of the theory of a transaction between God and the devil, often known as the Ransom or Bargain theory. The Gnostics regarded man as lying, in virtue of his material nature, in the power of a Demi urge, the Maker and Lord of the material world.
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In some men, however, there is also a spark of aeon-nature, the true spiritual light, and the problem of redemption is the problem of freeing this aeon-nature through knowledge from its defiling bondage in matter. Dimock, a book of great learning, which does not seem to have been adequately recognized. See also his attempt to mid the Penal Theory in the majority of the early fathers, pp. But even the aeons could not ignore the position and power of the demiurge, the lord of matter, and thus man could only be redeemed by a conforming of the aeon-nature, at least in appear ance, to material conditions.
In some forms of Gnosticism, as, for example, in Valentinianism and in the system of Marcion, the Cross is regarded as being the supreme moment of this deception, the crucified Christ being a mere appearance, while the true aeon-Christ ascends to the spiritual realms, thereby opening a way for those in whom the spark of spiritual knowledge has been kindled into flame.
Bizarre as this conception is, it is not very far removed from the thought of some of the Greek fathers. Here the devil takes the place of the Gnostic demiurge, and a theory is worked out upon the basis of the idea of a ransom paid to him, as suggested by St. Mark 10 The devil, like the demiurge, is found in possession o man, and his rights as possessor cannot be ignored however he came by them.
But in accepting this price the devil is deceived. It underlies the Docetism attacked by Ignatius and is not obscurely hinted at in the First Epistle of St. John 4 2, cf. The mythological form of the thought is a later development. The thought here rests on that of I Cor.
The recent study of Pauline angelology has made it practically certain that the reference here is to supernatural world-powers. Peake s Introduc tion to Colossians, in Expos. And since the apostasy i. But here the influence of a new thought is making itself felt. We have not now merely the language of devotion, dealing by means of hardly analysed metaphor with the mysteries of the faith as they make their appeal to the hearts of men. The mind of the theologian is now at work, and an effort, however slight, is being made to correlate the fact of Atonement with the other great facts of the kingdom of Satan and the justice bf God.
And so Irenaeus is led to suggest that it was by an unjust act of forcible aggression that the devil had established his power over man. Nevertheless his rights as possessor could not be arbitrarily set aside. A certain justice forbade God to employ the methods characteristic of the devil, though indeed it is probably rather in justice to His own character of love than from any recognition of the devil s claims that Irenaeus conceives God as 1 Et quoniam in juste dominafratur nobis apostasia, et cum natura essemus Dei omnipotentis alienavit nos contra naturam, suos proprios faciens discipulos ; potens in omnibus Dei Verbum, et non deficiens in sua justitia, juste etiam adversus ipsam conversus est apostasiam, ea quae sunt sua redimens ab ea non cum vi, quemadmodum ilia initio dominabatur nostri, ea quae non erant sua insatiabiliter rapiens, sed secundum suadelam, quemadmodum decebat Deum suadentem, et non vim inferentem, accipere quae vellet, ut neque quod est justum confrin- geretur neque antiqua plasmatio Dei deperiret Adv.
And so God uses persuasion and not force, appealing to men to leave the service of that lord whose rule is based upon aggression and not upon love. The older historians of Christian doctrine, e. Baur, Neander, Oxenham, saw in this reference to " persua sion " the first hint of the theory of a transaction between God and the devil, as though God had bartered with the devil for the souls of men.
Such a view was soon to appear, but it is not possible to read it into this passage, with the parallel passage from the Epistle to Diognetus lying in the background. More modern writers for the most part agree that Irenaeus is thinking of an appeal made not to the devil but to the hearts of men, and that he is contrasting the gentle methods used by God with the aggressive violence of the devil.
Here among passages of a very different character, there are some which speak quite explicitly of the transaction by which the soul of man was reclaimed : If then we were " bought with a price," as also Paul asserts, we were doubtless Bought from one whose servants we were, who also named what price he would for releasing those whom he held from his power. Now it was the devil that held us, to whose side we had been drawn away by our sins. But until the blood of Jesus, which was so precious that alone it sufficed for the redemp tion of all, was given, it was necessary that those who were established in the Law should give each for himself his blood i.
Dorner, Gieseler, Moberly, etc. Tenebat autem nos diabolus, cui distracti fueramus peccatis nostris. Poposcit ergo pretium nostrum sanguinem Christi. Verum donee Jesu sanguis daretur, qui tarn pretiosus fuit, ut solus pro omnium redemtione sufficeret, necessarium fuit eos, qui instituebantur in lege, unum- quemque pro se, velut ad imitationem quandam futurae redemtionis, sanguinem suum dare In Rom.
It cannot have been to God. Was it not then to the evil one? For he held us until the ransom for us, even the soul of Jesus, was paid to him, being deceived into thinking that he could be its lord, and not seeing that he could not bear, the torment of holding it. From man s point of view, though not necessarily from the point of view of God, the devil was in just possession. He had a right to name his price for the release of man. The price demanded was the blood of Christ, and this price was paid.
But yet the devil was at war with all good, and in accepting this payment, named by himself and paid by God, he found himself deceived, though it is not clear whether Origen regards- this deception as due to God or to the Devil himself. The devil did not perceive that mankind, partially freed by Christ s teaching and miracles, would be completely delivered by His death.
That such an action is unworthy of God does not seem to occur to Origen. As a commentator he expands his thought with reference to particular passages, and is at little pains to reconcile or to justify his various state ments. It is not probable that he had in his mind any very definite view of the nature of the deception of the devil, though the language which he uses would cer tainly imply that God was responsible.
On this idea see the note in Bigg, Christian Platonists of Alexandria, p. Gregory, like Irenaeus, starts from the idea of the justice of God, and dwells on the fact that it was by a voluntary act that man had placed himself in the devil s power. The devil must have no ground for a just complaint. For as they who have bartered away their freedom for money are the slaves of those who have purchased them. Now this method is in a manner this : to make over to the master of the slave whatever ransom lie may nafree to accept for the person in his possession.
To have devised that the Divine power should have been containable in the envelopment of a body, to the end that the dispensation on our behalf might not be thwarted through any fear inspired by the Deity actually appearing, affords a demonstration of all these qualities at once goodness, wisdom, justice. His choosing to save man is a testimony of His good ness ; His making the redemption of the captive a matter ol exchange exhibits His justice, while the invention wherebv He enabled the enemy to apprehend that of which he was befon incapable, is a manifestation of supreme wisdom.
TJ rbv rvpa. TiKT]v irorfo ao da. He argues that two things are involved in justice and wisdom, first, that all should have their due ; and second, that, while justice is done, kindness should not swerve from the aim of the love of man. So in this instance, by the reasonable rule of justice, he who practised deception receives in return that very treatment the seeds of which he had himself sown of his own free will. He who first deceived man by the bait of sensual pleasure is himself deceived by the presentation of the human form.
But as regards the aim and purpose of what took place, a change in the direction of the nobler is involved ; for whereas he, the enemy, effected his deception for the ruin of our nature, He who is at once the just, and good, and wise one, used His device, in which there was deception, for the salvation of him who had perished, and thus not only conferred benefit on the lost one, but on him too who had wrought our ruin. It is God who deceives the devil, and that this should be so is entirely just, entirely merciful, and, indeed, a mark of the most supreme wisdom.
This strange theory exercised a quite extraordinary fascination over the minds of later writers. In Gregory of Nyssa himself its essential crudity is to a great extent covered by the hint that even the devil himself is deceived for his own good, as the physician might deceive a patient.
Nevertheless they fall back again upon Gregory s theory, taking up and even embellishing his strange similes with obvious relish, and seldom pausing even to consider his presuppositions. His last serious critic down to the time of Anselm was his contemporary and friend, Gregory of Nazianzum.
As a typical statement of the theory in the writers following Gregory of Nyssa we may take the explanation of the Cross given by Rnfinus in his Commentary on the Apostles Creed.
It was, he says, a token of victory over " things in heaven and things on earth, and things under the earth " Phil. By being lifted up in the air He displayed His victory over the supernatural and celestial powers. By stretching forth His hands He made protestation to unbelievers and invited believers. By the part of the Cross sunk in the earth He signified the subjecting to Himself of the kingdoms of the nether world. Rufinus then goes more into detail. When God made the world in the beginning, He set over it and appointed certain powers of celestial virtues, by whom the 1 Published by Krabinger, and quoted in N.
But some of these, as he who is called the Prince of this world, did not exercise the power which God had committed to them according to the laws by which they had received it, nor did they teach mankind to obey God s commandments, but taught them rather to follow their own perverse guidance. Thus we were brought under the bonds of sin. Under that bond then every man was held by those most wicked rulers. The Cross of Christ, then, brought those who had wrong fully abused the authority which they had received into sub jection to those who had before been in subjection to them.
But to us, that is mankind, it teaches first of all to resist sin even unto death, and willingly to die for the sake of religion. For He alone who knows no stain of sin hath destroyed the sins of all, of those, at least, who have marked the door-posts of their faith with His blood. As, therefore, if a fish seizes a baited hook, it not only 1 Ab initio Deus cum fecisset mundum, praefecit ei et proposuit quasdam virtutum coelestium potestates, quibus regeretur et dispen- saretur mortalium genus.
Sed et horum nonnulli, sicut et ipse qui princeps appellatus est mundi, da tarn sibi a Deo potestatem non his quibus acceperant legibus temperarunt, nee humanum genus divinis obedire praeceptis, sed suis parere praevaricationibus docuerant. Et hinc adversus nos peccatorum chirographa scripta sunt.
Per istud ergo unusquisque chirographum illis rectoribus pessimis tenebatur. On the chirographum see p. Nos vero, hoc est humanum genus, edocet prime omnium usque ad mortem resistere adversus peccatum, et libenter interitum pro pietate suscipere Comm. As it stands in Gregory of Nyssa and Rufinus it is perhaps suggested by Job 41 i, " Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook?
The metaphor occurs again in connection with the same passage in Gregory the Great : He immediately announces the coming of the Lord s Incarna tion, saying, In his eyes He will take him as with a hook. Who can be ignorant that on a hook the bait is shown, the point is con cealed? For the bait tempts that the point may wound.
On; Lord, therefore, when coming for the redemption of mankind made as it were a kind of hook of Himself for the death of the devil. It 1 Nam sacramentum illud susceptae carnis, quod supra exposuimus, hanc habet causam, ut divina filii Dei virtus, velut hamus quidam habitu humanae carnis obtectus. Solus enim qui peccati maculam nescit omnium peccata delevit, eorum duntaxat qui sanguine ejus postes fidei suae signassent. Sicut ergo hamum esca contectum si piscis rapiat, non modo escam ab hamo non removet, sed et ipse de profundo, esca aliis futurus, educitur, ita et is qui habebat mortis imperium rapuit quidem in morte corpus Jesu, non sentiens in eo hamum divinitatis inclusum ; sed ubi devoravit, haesit ipse continue, et, diruptis inferni claustris, velut de profundo extractus trahitur ut esca caeteris fiat Comm.
Quis nesciat quod in hamo esca ostenditur, aculeus occultatur?
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Esca enim provocat ut aculeus pungat. Dominus itaque noster ad humani generis redemptionem veniens, velut quemdam de se in necem diaboli hamum fecit Moral. Gregory the Great compares the Cross to a net for catching birds. The Lord deceived him like a bird when in the Passion He displayed before him His only-begotten Son as bait, but hid the noose. Augustine, who compares the Cross to a mouse-trap, baited with Christ s blood. As our price He held out His Cross to him like a mouse-trap, and as bait set upon it His own blood.
The metaphor is now little more than a metaphor, and is only of service in so far as it throws into clear relief the utter hostility, of God to the powers of evil. There is also, perhaps, as Hagenbach suggests, 3 the secondary thought that the devil is after all a fool.
Despite all his apparent cunning he is at last outwitted by God s wisdom and appears in comparison stupid. But in the earlier forms of the doctrine there had been another thought, combined, however illogically, with that of the outwitting and conquest of the devil, the thought of a certain justice to be satisfied. In such writers as Rufinus this idea seems to have passed out of sight altogether, but in others the emphasis laid upon it by Irenaeus, Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa is retained. God cannot be supposed to act unjustly, even towards 1 Quasi avi quippe Dominus illusit dum ei in passione unigeniti Filii sui ostend.
The simile is borrowed from Gregory by Isidore Hispa- lensis, Sententiarum lib. I owe the reference to Riviere, Le Dogme de Redemption, p. Harold Smith has called my attention. The metaphor has usually been quoted from Peter Lombard Sent, iii. However the devil came by his rights they cannot be set arbitrarily aside. It is this thought that gives the theory its transactional form, the Atonement being regarded as in some sense a bargain in which the devil receives his due, as it were, by agreement with God.
A curious suggestion, for which parallels occur in other writers of the same period, 1 occurs in Chrysostom s comment on Col. After offering two interpretations of the " bond " mentioned in that passage, he gives as a third the following This bond, then, the devil held. It became a regular part of the stock- in-trade of later writers. Leo the Great, for example, refers to it more than once, 3 and Anselm considered it of sufficient importance to criticise it in his Cur Deus Homo? We see in Augustine the attempt to carry through the idea of 1 Rufinus, Comm.
De Trin. It was absolutely just that man should be in the devil s power, yet the treatment of the devil was also just. And the latter justice is in some sense regarded as superior to the former. By the justice of God in some sense the human race was delivered into the power of the devil. But the way in which man was thus delivered into the power of the devil ought not to be so understood as if God did this, or commanded it to be done ; but that He only permitted it, yet that justly.
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He had never sinned, and death was not His due. And so the devil was justly overcome. For, in the pride of his power over weak humanity : The devil thought himself superior to the Lord Himself, inasmuch as the Lord in His sufferings yielded to him Because when he found in Him nothing worthy of death, yet he slew Him. And certainly it is just, that we whom he held as debtors should be dismissed free by believing in Him whom he slew without any debt.
Modus autem iste quo traditus est homo in diaboli potestatem non ita debet intelligi tanquam hoc Deus fecerit aut fieri jusserit, sed quod tantum permiserit, juste tamen De Trin. Quia cum in eo nihil niorte dignura inveniret, occidit eum tamen. Et utique justum est ut debitores quos tenebat liberi dimittantur, in eum credentes quern sine ullo debito occidit De Trin.
Augustine clearly does not regard the Incarnation as a veiling of the Godhead in flesh in order to trick the devil, but simply as the taking of a body liable to suffering and to death in order that the debt which was due to the devil might be paid. The blood of Christ was a price paid for us, but by accepting that price the devil was not enriched but bound, 2 since he claimed payment from One who was under no obligation to him.
So the devil was conquered, not by might, but by justice and righteousness. The might of God was shown, it is true, in the resurrec tion of Christ from the dead, but this final triumph was withheld until the victory had already been won justly and righteously " through the weakness which He took upon Him in mortal flesh. But He held back what was possible to Him, in order that He might first do what was fitting. This double meaning of the word, in its objective and subjective aspects, has been fruitful of confusion in Western theories of the Atonement.
Again and again it is impossible to translate a passage because Justus and justitia slip across from one meaning to the other. The righteousness of Christ and God s just dealing with men and the devil through Him were constantly confused. The difficulty occurs already in the Latin version of Irenaeus, as is illustrated in the passage quoted above Adv.
Sed postposuit quod potuit ut prius ageret quod oportuit De Trin. On this subject of the conquest of the devil it is not necessary to dwell further, save to notice that in some of the later fathers, as, for example, in Leo the Great and in Gregory the Great, the conquest takes the form of an ethical victory over the devil, who was unable, for all his temptations, to seduce Christ to the committal of any sin. In Gregory the Great this idea is expressed thus : Hunc ergo cum post baptisma vidit antiquus hostis mox tentationibus irnpetiit, et, per diversos aditus ad interiora ejus molitus irrepere, victus est, atque ipsa inexpugnabilis mentis ejus integritate prostratus Moral, xvii.
As a typical statement we may take that given by Leo the Great. Here we find exactly the same feeling that it befits God to act by justice, and not by might, coupled with the same idea that the devil by claiming too much lost even that which was originally his due : For though the true mercy of God had infinitely many schemes to hand for the restoration of mankind, it chose that particular design which put in force for destroying the devil s work, not the efficacy of might, but the dictates of justice.
For the pride of the ancient foe not undeservedly made good its despotic rights over all men, and with no unwarrantable supremacy tyrannised over those who had been of their accord lured away from God s commands to be the slaves of his will. When, therefore, the merciful and almighty Saviour so arranged the commencement of His human course as to hide the power of His Godhead which was inseparable from His manhood under the veil of our weakness, the crafty foe was taken off his guard.
The unscrupulous thief and greedy robber persisted in assaulting Him who had nothing of His own, and in carrying out the general sentence on original sin went beyond the bond on which he rested, and required the punishment of iniquity from Him in whom he found no fault. And thus the malevolent terms of the deadly compact are annulled, and through the injustice of an over charge the whole debt is cancelled. Nam superbia hostis antiqui non immerito sibi in omnes homines jus tyrannicum vindicabat, nee indebito dominatu premebat quos a mandate Dei spontaneos in obsequium suae voluntatis illexerat.
Cum igitur misericors omnipotensque Salvator ita susceptionis humanae moderaretur exordia, ut virtutem inseparabilis a suo homine deitatis per velamen nostrae infirmitatis absconderet, illusa est securi hostis astutia. Perstitit ergo improbus praedo et avarus exactor in eum qui nihil ipsius habebat insurgere, et dum vitiatae originis praejudicium generale persequitur, chirographum quo nitebatur excedit, ab illo iniquitatis exigens poenam, in quo nullam reperit culpam.
Solvitur itaque lethiferae pactionis male suasa conscriptio, et per injustitiam plus petendi totius debit! He reverts to language very like that of Gregory of Nyssa when he speaks of the Incarnation as the putting on of a kind of veil whereby the devil was led to believe that. The devil claims from Christ that to which he has no right, and by this act of injustice his claim is put out of court, and the whole debt is dissolved.
One further quotation will suffice to illustrate this form of the transactional theory ; Bernard of Clairvaux, one of its last exponents, writes, in language that might almost be a quotation from Augustine s writings : The prince of this world came, and in the Saviour found nothing, and since notwithstanding he laid his hands on the innocent One, he most justly lost those whom he was holding in his possession ; since He who owed nothing to death, having accepted the injury of death, rightly loosed him who was liable to them both from the debt of death and from the dominion of the devil.
Yet even he is standing at the turn of the road, and while his theological idiom is drawn from the past, it is no longer adequate to the thought which was affecting him, as it affected the other writers of his day. Before turning from the Ransom theories proper to 1 Nativitatem pueri in salutem generis humani procreati non aliter sibi quam omnium nascentium putavit obnoxiam Serm. The Augustinian idea, however, that the humanity was taken in order that Christ might suffer, appears in the context. The common later view that the deoth of Christ was superabundant payment for man s sin, appears in a number of writers, and at an early date.
Thus Cyril of Jerusalem says : Our sin was not as great as the righteous deed of Him who laid down His life for us. It is still the property rather of the preacher than of the theologian. It is a more important matter to note how far doubts arose within this period as to the propriety of assigning any rights at all to the devil. Throughout the patristic writers we can feel the conflict of two ideas, the idea of the devil as the eternal enemy of God, ever at war with Him, and at the last conquered in fair fight, and the idea of the devil as in some sense God s servant, punishing man by God s permission, and, though he had very far overstepped the bounds assigned him, still possessing a certain just status which could not be ignored.
It is clear that little progress was possible until this confusion of thought was dispelled. Yet strangely few of the early fathers were sufficiently clear-sighted in this respect to reject altogether, as unworthy of a good God, the recognition in any form of the devil s claims.
We may, however, notice here a writer noteworthy for his position as the last of the great Greek theologians of the early period, and important for our subject as marking in some degree the transition from devilward to Godward theories of Atonement. John of Damascus is essentially a writer of his own age. In idea and in language he is almost wholly dependent upon his predecessors. He adopts without question the methods of thought honoured by three centuries of tradition since the days of Gregory of Nyssa. But he has felt the doubt to which Gregory of Nazianzum had given expression, and he endeavours to meet this by avoiding any mention of the devil as receiving the blood of Christ.
Like Gregory of Nazianzum he holds that such a thought would be profane indeed. Yet he has no other theory to fall back upon, and he goes on to use all the language of the crudest form of the Ransom theory, simply avoiding the difficulty of which he is conscious by writing " death " instead of " the devil. Wetstein, i. The whole passage is worth consulting as a precursor of Gregory of Nazianzum and a protest against the theory which was becoming dominant. Orth, hi. But the tyrant would have had a ground of complaint if, after he had overcome man, God should have used force against him.
Wherefore God in His pity and love for man wished to reveal man himself as conqueror, and became man to restore like with like. He was not subject to death, since death came into the world through sin. He dies, therefore, because He took on Himself death on our behalf, and He makes Himself an offering to the Father for our sakes. For we had sinned against Him, and it was meet that He should receive the ransom for us, and that we should thus be delivered from the condemnation. God forbid that the blood of the Lord should have been offered to the tyrant.
Wherefore death approaches, and swallowing up the body as a bait is transfixed on the hook of divinity, and after tasting of a sinless and life-giving body, perishes, and brings up again all whom of old he swallowed up. For just as darkness disappears on the introduction of light, so is death repulsed before the assault of life, and brings life to all, but death to the destroyer. The thought that sin is sin against God, and that therefore it is within the Godhead that redemption must be wrought, was to bear much fruit when the Dark Ages passed and theological interest revived with Anselm and the Schoolmen.
They are due to our sin, and are con ditioned by that sin. Both Origen 1 and Gregory of Nyssa, 2 for example, are quite clear that man is to blame. The punishment of death rests upon an agree ment made by God with man, which agreement man of his own free will has broken. Practically all the fathers agree that God might have saved man in any way that He pleased, even by a bare word, or by the mere exercise of His will, and that the reasons for the choice of this particular method of redemption are only very partially revealed. Gregory of Nyssa asks the question : Why does He not effect His purpose by the mere exercise of His will?
With this thought cf.
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De Inc. The theory of universal restoration preached by Origen was rejected as a heresy, though Gregory of Nyssa does not seem to have been attacked for hinting that the devil might ultimately be saved and all creation restored to harmony. In this he was not followed by the later Latin fathers. Leo the Great says that the Atonement was a price sufficient to pay for a universe of captives, 5 while Gregory the Great extends its efficacy even to heavenly beings.
Gregory the Great, Moral, xx. It was a convenient explanation, suitable to the concep tions of the day, and well adapted to homiletic purposes. But it was little more. In almost every writer we find its deficiencies made good by the introduction of ideas of a widely different character, though not as yet crystallized into definite theory, until at last in Bernard, and again in Peter Lombard, we find the old transac- tional language adopted and defended simply because it is the language of tradition, fallowed by its association with the fathers of the Church, and not lightly to be thrown aside, even though now inadequate to carry the thought of those who use it.
And thus the interest of the period lies very largely outside the transactional theories proper, in those floating ideas which were never clearly worked out, but in which was contained the germ of almost every type of later speculation. It is necessary, therefore, to make some attempt to estimate the real mind of the more important of the early fathers upon the whole question of redemption.
To pursue the subject through the works of any large number of the writers of the period would be more confusing than profitable. We begin, then, with Irenaeus. Even the central passage, quoted above, which speaks of a transaction with the devil entered into by God as just seems to regard the efficacy of Atonement as lying rather in a persuasive force appealing to men.
And the words which follow point to that union between man and God which alone can make such an appeal effective.
And this may account for the attempt to find a special function for that death on lines so much akin to the thought of Gnosticism, by introducing the conception of the defeat of the devil. In another passage the unity of man with God is brought into direct connexion with this defeat. Since it was man that originally suffered defeat at the devil s hands, it is by man that that defeat must be reversed.
For if man had not overtime man s adversary, the enemy would not have been justly con quered. This conception of mystical union lies at the centre of the thought of Irenaeus about the Atonement. Man does not stand outside the action of God through Christ. There is no bargain made over his head. He is himself intimately and directly con cerned. It is to him that Christ makes His appeal, and it is through mystical union with God through Christ that he is able to respond to the appeal. Sources and citation are provided. This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.
Your time is important. Get essay help. Accessed 27 June Moral example theory of atonement. January Your essay sample has been sent. Order now. Hi there! Are you interested in getting a customized paper? Check it out! Having trouble finding the perfect essay? Hire a writer. He starts with an account of Abelard's position in the Aristotelian tradition. He follows with the exposition of doctrine of sensation, imagination and understanding; in this part he analyzes Abelard's theory of cognition, and he concludes with a discussion of opinion, knowledge and intelligence.
The seventh and eighth chapters deal with Abelard's theological thought. In the seventh chapter Jeffrey E. Brower Purdue University writes on the Trinity. Abelard developed the problem of the Trinity in two books. He wrote first his Theologia summi boni ; as Abelard explained in his Historia calamitatum , he had to burn this work because it was condemned as heretical. Then he wrote a Theologia christiana that he never completed. Even if the problem of the Trinity evokes apparently only theological questions, Brower writes correctly that Abelard had to solve them before a lot of philosophical queries, in order to use them to expose those theological questions.
This fact took him to develop sophisticated philosophical theories of identity or numerical sameness, which Brower neatly reconstructs. In chapter eighth Thomas Williams Iowa examines a theological subject: sin, grace and redemption and the reciprocal relationships between them. Williams focuses his analysis on Abelard's theory of the Atonement, as it is explained in his Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, which Abelard drafted as an exposition of the literal sense of the epistle.
Williams emphasizes two major subjects of the Roman commentary: the first is the exaltation of divine grace at the expense of the human merit; according to the second, we are meant to serve God out of love rather than out of fear. The subject of the chapter is important, not only because of its theological content and repercussions, but also from an historical point of view; in fact, the question of the Atonement gave rise to Bernard of Clairvaux's attacks and criticisms against Abelard.
William E. Mann Vermont focuses in the ninth chapter on Abelard's Ethics. The chapter is concentrated above all on the analysis of two works, Ethics or Scito te ipsum and "Dialogue between a Philosopher, a Jew and a Christian. The first section of the chapter is devoted to a description of the arguments defending three theses about what sin is not, that is, describing sin in negative terms.
Mann divides the subject into three aspects: a sin is not a mental vice that disposes us to bad deeds, b sin is not the bad deed itself, and c the will to perform a bad deed is not a sin. In the same section, Mann offers a detailed explanation of Intention as consent and he distinguishes between intentions and second-order-desires, between conflicting desires and conflicting intentions and between ends and means.
In the second section Mann explains his principal positive thesis about Abelard's Ethics, according to which all sins are acts of Intention, whether they are translated into physical action or not. Yukio Iwakuma Fukui, Japan devotes the tenth chapter to Abelard's historical influence. He considers three areas: metaphysics, philosophy of language and logic.
In order to reconstruct this influence, after a short notice of the development of twelfth-century logic, Iwakuma studies firstly four different aspects of the controversy of the universals: its historical background, the controversy between Abelard and William of Champeaux, realist theories prior to , and the controversy in the mid-twelfth century.
Immediately Iwakuma explains the influence of Abelard's semantics and divides his analysis in three sections: first, signification's theories, second, oblique cases of nouns and signification, third, appellation. In this third section he introduces interesting observations about the differences between appelare and nominare. The next part, devoted to inferences, examines the definition of an argument according to Abelard, and the differences between syllogisms and topical inferences.
The last part of the chapter no negatives follow from affirmatives studies Abelard's influence on Alberic of Paris and Gilbert of Poitiers. Iwakuma developed his analysis in taking into consideration not only the lot of students that followed Abelard, but also his rivals, who needed to know and to understand his theories to refute them.