In the wake of suggestions that the doctrine of the atoning death of Christ did not come into being in the earliest stages of Christianity, Martin Hengel forcefully argues with impeccable scholarship that the doctrine can be traced back to the earliest church, indeed to the sayings of Jesus himself.
In the first part of this examination, Hengel explores a wide area of classical antiquity. Would it have made sense to Greeks and Romans of the first century to say that Jesus had died for them? Were there points of contact in their traditions? Surveying Greek and Latin literature, Hengel shows just how widespread the theme "dying for" actually was, from Homer, through the Greek tragedians and orators, to Plutarch, Livy, and Caesar. The second part of the book is devoted to tracing the doctrine of atonement, moving back from the letters of Paul, through the pre-Pauline tradition, to Jesus.
Martin Hengel John Bowden
Martin Hengel is Emeritus Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism at the University of Tuebingen, Germany. He is the author of many books including 'Victory Over Violence & Was Jesus a Revolutionist?', 'Between Jesus and Paul', 'Judaism and Hellenism', 'Studies in the Gospel of Mark', and 'The "Hellenization" of Judaea in the First Century' after Christ. Hengel's most recent books include 'Studies in Early Christology' and 'The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ'.