Maccabean martyr traditions in Paul's theology of atonement
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SubjectPaul,--the Apostle, Saint--Theology.
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This dissertation endeavors to answer the question whether Maccabean martyr traditions informed Paul's theology of atonement? The thesis of this dissertation answers the question in the affirmative: Maccabean martyr traditions informed Paul's theology of atonement. The dissertation investigates selected texts in Greco-Roman literature, the key atonement texts in 2 and 4 Maccabees, key texts in the OT, and the key atonement texts in Paul in order to defend the proposed thesis. I allow my exegesis of the key texts to determine the soteriological similarities I see between Maccabean martyr traditions and Paul's theology of atonement. I only investigate the Pauline atonement texts wherein he shows an explicit soteriological, lexical, and conceptual connection with martyr traditions. Chapter 1 introduces the thesis and presents a history of research. Chapter 2 investigates selected texts from Greco-Roman literature, Leviticus 16, Isaiah 53, and the key texts in 2 and 4 Maccabees to demonstrate that 2 and 4 Maccabees speak of the deaths of the martyrs with similar language found in Greco-Roman literature, the OT cult, and Isaiah 53. I argue that the martyr texts present the Jewish martyrs as voluntary and vicarious, atoning sacrifices for Israel's sin. Chapter 3 investigates Genesis 22, Exodus 32, Numbers 25, and Isaiah 53 to see if these texts influenced the atonement theology in 2 and 4 Maccabees and in Paul: viz., a voluntary death of a human for the soteriological benefit of others. Since each of the OT texts investigated in chapter 3 mentions human sacrifice and since three of the four mention human sacrifice for the benefit of others, I limit my investigation to these specific OT texts. I argue that with the possible exception of Isaiah 53, the sort of vicarious human suffering and atoning death for sin for the soteriological benefit of others that appear in 2 and 4 Maccabees do not appear in these OT texts in the same way as the above concepts are presented in the key martyr texts or in Paul. Chapter 4 investigates the key atonement texts in Paul that demonstrate soteriological, lexical, and conceptual similarities with Maccabean martyr traditions. In addition to an exegesis of the key Pauline atonement texts and in addition to an analysis of the soteriological themes arising from an exegesis of the key texts, I offer arguments that defend how martyr traditions informed Paul's theology of atonement and why their influence on his theology of atonement does not undermine the soteriological value of Jesus' death for the nations. Chapter 5 offers conclusions and implications of chapters 2-4. I endeavor to tie together the arguments made in each chapter to argue the proposed thesis. In addition, I also present suggestions that could potentially further the discussion of martyr theology's influence on Paul's theology of atonement. My overall conclusions are that martyr traditions informed Paul's theology of atonement in addition to (not instead of) the OT and that a martyrological influence on Paul's theology of atonement does not undermine the soteriological value of Jesus' death for the nations in Paul's atonement theology.