The atonement in Lukan theology
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This dissertation examines the narrative of Luke-Acts in order to assess the widespread scholarly assertion that Luke either rejects or minimizes atonement theology in his presentation of the death of Jesus. Chapter 1 provides a history of modern research on the meaning of Jesus' death in Lukan theology. Within the variety of interpretations set forth by scholars, attention is given to the common rejection of atonement as an integral aspect of Luke's understanding. Chapter 2 presents evidence that Luke identifies Jesus' death as the new covenant sacrifice. Specifically, Jesus' death is shown to be a sacrifice for the sins of God's people so that they might enter a new eschatological covenant with God. This is demonstrated by a careful consideration of the authenticity and meaning of Jesus' words at the Last Supper. Subsequent episodes in Luke-Acts are then shown to recall and confirm this interpretation, creating a theme in Luke's narrative and emphasizing its importance for the life of the church. Chapter 3 examines the Passion narrative for literary indications of the atoning nature of Jesus' death. Significant support for this perspective is found in Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane, the release of Barabbas, the salvation of the repentant criminal, the darkness at the cross, and the tearing of the temple veil. Chapter 4 demonstrates the identification of Jesus with the suffering servant of Isaiah to be a significant christological theme in Luke-Acts. Furthermore, contextual evidence in specific texts as well as from the narrative as a whole shows Luke intended his identification of Jesus with the servant to communicate the atoning significance of his death. Chapter 5 identifies additional narrative indicators for a Lukan theology of atonement. These include the worldview presented within Luke-Acts, as well as the descriptions of Jesus' death as a "baptism" of judgment, as being "delivered into the hands of men," and as being hung on a "tree." Chapter 6 broadly restates the argumentation and conclusion of the dissertation, showing the significant support for a Lukan theology of atonement that is integral to the presentation of the death of Jesus in Luke-Acts.