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From the Publisher
. . . this little book is valuable for its clear exposition of the various strands of ancient tradition that early Christians, especially Paul, used in their reflections on Christ’s work of salvation.
Catholic Books Review
[The] book is worth reading for giving us the ‘lay of the land’ regarding the biblical background and the theological traditions behind our heritage of atonement theology and the issues that must be addressed if the use of biblical atonement imagery is to be pastorally effective.
The Catholic Biblical Quarterly
This slim volume with its focus on questions facing many of today’s Christians is an excellent resource for individuals and groups.
Finlan expertly untangles the various concepts of atonement in the Bible and teases out their different theological assumptions and implications. While demonstrating that atonement doctrines inevitably attribute violence and injustice to God, the author argues persuasively that none of the atonement thinking in Christianity derives from the historical Jesus. As Finlan charts the spiritual and psychological damage in which atonement thinking is implicated and the human violence it can incite, he offers a theological alternative based on the teachings of Jesus. Built on solid erudition and driven by a moral purpose, Options on Atonement invites Christians to move beyond violent images of God while keeping faith with their biblical tradition.
Robert J. Miller, Professor of Religious Studies, Juniata College
Finlan’s Options on Atonement in Christian Thought is an amazing tour de force that challenges its reader to keep the pieces of the doctrinal puzzle together in the way that its author has done. Beginning with a carefully nuanced survey of biblical precedents, moving through the multiplicity of Paul’s images, and passing in review the insights of competing theological opinions, the author puts all the elements before the mind’s eye of the reader. Then, the expression of his own evocative theory puts the pieces together and leads the reader to stand back and contemplate with awe.
Raymond F. Collins, Warren-Blanding Professor of Religion, Professor of New Testament, The Catholic University of America
Stephen Finlan argues for the rejection of blood sacrifice and all related themes, such as payment of debt and penal substitution, in the Christian doctrine of salvation. Options on Atonement is an important work which should stimulate reflection and stir up theological debate. It will be of particular interest to a growing number of theologians and ethicists who are concerned to articulate and practice a theology of peacemaking.
James G. Williams, author of The Bible, Violence, and the Sacred and editor of The Girard Reader