A Biblical-Theological Investigation of Christ's Priesthood and Covenant Mediation with Respect to the Extent of the Atonement
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This dissertation argues that a biblical theology of the priestly mediation of the new covenant is necessary for understanding the extent of the atonement and that such a study will result in a clear affirmation of definite atonement. Chapter 1 shows how theologians have truncated Christ's priestly office and how biblical scholars have neglected to apply the priesthood to matters of the atonement's efficacy and extent. This chapter validates the need for a whole Bible typology of the priestly work of Christ. Chapter 2 proposes an approach to typology that sets forth the methodological commitments of this dissertation. It argues that typology should be prospective in its orientation, Christotelic in its aim, and covenantal in its structure. It explains these three facets at length, helping the reader to understand how the dissertation uses typology. Chapter 3 introduces the priestly prototype in the person and work of Adam. Next, it asserts that Noah and Abraham functions as priestly types when they offer sacrifice, mediate covenants, and offer blessings. With each type, theological reflections are given in conversation with the New Testament fulfillment of Adam, Noah, and Abraham. Chapter 4 examines the legislation of the priesthood. It asserts that three functions of the priesthood emerge in the Law of Moses: The priest is (1) a Kohen Victor, who defends the holiness of God's sanctuary, (2) a Kohen Mediator, who offers sacrifice for atonement, and a (3) Kohen Teacher, who teaches the covenant community the torah of God. This threefold orientation provides the authorized "mold" (Vorbild) by which the priestly type (Nachbild) can be formed and evaluated. Chapter 5 argues that the prophets condemned the Levitical priests for their disobedience to God's law and their failure to fulfill their assigned duties (guarding, sacrificing, and teaching). The prophets' criticisms function in this dissertation as an inspired rubric for evaluating theological proposals for Christ's priesthood and the atonement. In particular, this chapter argues that general atonement does not match the stipulations of the priesthood, and is therefore liable to prophetic censure. Chapter 6 outlines the priestly expectations of the Former and Latter Prophets. It suggests that the eschatological priest is a royal figure from the line of David who defends God's holiness (Kohen Victor), sacrifices himself for his people (Kohen Mediator), and instructs the covenant community with absolute efficacy (Kohen Teacher). On the basis of these prophetic anticipations, this chapter argues that the priest of the new covenant will provide a definite and particular atonement. Chapter 7 shows from the New Testament how Christ Jesus fulfills all of the Old Testament promises in regards to the priesthood. Specifically, it demonstrates the threefold ministry of Christ--Kohen Victor, Kohen Mediator, and Kohen Teacher. Following the chronological development of Christ's priestly ministry (i.e., on earth, on the cross, in heaven), it will argue that the atonement's extent must be particular and definite, not general and indefinite. Chapter 8 summarizes the biblical theological data espoused in chapters 3 to 7. It applies the priesthood to five areas of systematic theology (i.e., theological hermeneutics, the extent of the atonement, the person of Christ, the universal offer of the gospel, and reconciliation of the cosmos). It concludes with an appeal for holding definite atonement on the basis of Christ's priesthood. In addition, it suggests various avenues for doing future research on the priesthood of Christ.