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Did Luke Have a Doctrine of the Atonement? Mailbag September 24, 2017

For this week’s readers’ mailbag I have chosen a question about my claim that the author of Luke-Acts, unlike other writers of the New Testament, does not have a doctrine of the atonement – that Jesus’ death brought about a restored relationship with God (for Luke, it was the *resurrection* that mattered, not the crucifixion).   The questioner sets up the question with an important observation.   I suspect my answer will not be what he expected.





I have spent a lot of time looking in the gospels for teachings on the atonement. I could only find 5 passages (really more like 2, because they are parallel).


  • Mt 20:28/Mk 10:45 Jesus life as a ransom for many Luke leaves this part out of the story


  • Mt 26:28–this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Mk 14:24–This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
  • Lk 22:20 This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.


Are you saying that Luke (in Acts and in his gospel) is diverging from Matthew and Mark re the atonement? If so, what does Lk 22:20 suggest, if not the atonement?




First I would say that yes, these are key passages in the discussion.  Another is Mark 15:37-39, where Jesus dies and the curtain in the Temple is immediately ripped in half.  This curtain is to be understood as separating God from humanity – he was believed to dwell in the Holy of Holies behind the curtain, and only the high priest could go into his presence in that room, and that only once a year on the Day of Atonement to make a sacrifice for the people’s sins.  Now, with the death of Jesus, in Mark, the curtain is destroyed, and people do have access to God.  Luke changes the scene significantly: for him the curtain was ripped, but it was *before* Jesus died.  Now it doesn’t show that Jesus’ death brings access to God.  It is a symbol of God’s destruction of the temple because of what the Jewish people have done to Jesus.  (As Luke says “the hour of darkness has come”)


So here’s the deal so far.   Luke omitted Mark 10:45, that Jesus’ death was a ransom for many.  Why’d he do that?  He also changed the ripping of the curtain.  Why’d he do that?   And as significantly, he also omitted Mark 14:24, that Jesus blood was poured out for many?  Why’d he do that?  Or *did* he do that?


The questioner is pointing out that the verse (Jesus’ blood is “poured out for many”) *is* found in Luke 22:20.  BUT, here’s the big deal: it appears that Luke did not originally have the verse.  It was added by later scribes.  Here is my discussion of the passage in my book Misquoting Jesus (I have a much longer and detailed discussion in my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture).





For proto-orthodox Christians, it was important to emphasize that Christ was a real man of flesh and blood because it was precisely the sacrifice of his flesh and the shedding of his blood that brought salvation – not in appearance but in reality.  Another textual variant in Luke’s account of Jesus’ passion emphasizes precisely this reality.  It occurs during the account of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples.  In one of our oldest Greek manuscripts, along with several Latin witnesses, we are told the following:

And taking a cup, giving thanks, he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves, for I say to you that I will not drink from the fruit of the vine from now on, until the kingdom of God comes.”  And taking bread, giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body.  But behold, the hand of the one who betrays me is with me at the table” (Luke 22:17-19).

In most of our manuscripts, however, there is an addition to the text, an addition that will sound familiar to many readers of the English Bible, since it has made its way into most modern translations.  Here, after Jesus says “This is my body,” he continues with the words “‘which has been given for you; do this in remembrance of me’; And the cup likewise after supper, saying ‘this cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured for you.’”

These are the familiar words of the “institution” of the Lord’s Supper, known in a very similar form also from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:23-25).  Despite the fact they are familiar, there are good reasons for thinking that these verses were not originally in Luke’s Gospel, but were added in order to stress that it was precisely Jesus’ broken body and shed blood that brought salvation “for you.”  For one thing, it is hard to explain why a scribe would have omitted the verses if they were original to Luke (there is no homoeoteleuton, for example, that would explain an omission), especially since they make such clear and smooth sense when they are added.  In fact, when the verses are taken away, doesn’t the text sound a bit truncated?  Precisely the unfamiliarity of the truncated version (without the verses) may have been what led scribes to add the verses.

And it is striking to note that the verses, as familiar as they are, do not represent Luke’s own understanding of the death of Jesus.  For it is a striking feature of Luke’s portrayal of Jesus death — this may sound strange at first — that he never, anywhere else, indicates that the death itself is what brings salvation from sin.  Nowhere in Luke’s entire two volume work (Luke and Acts), is Jesus’ death said to be “for you.”  And in fact, on the two occasions in which Luke’s source Mark indicates that it was by Jesus’ death that salvation came (Mark 10:45; 15:39), Luke changed the wording of the text (or eliminated it).  Luke, in other words, has a different understanding of the way Jesus death leads to salvation from Mark (and from Paul, and other early Christian writers).

It is easy to see Luke’s own distinctive view by considering what he has to say in the book of Acts, where the apostles give a number of speeches in order to convert others to the faith.  What is striking is that in none of these instances (look, e.g., in chapters 3, 4, 13), do the apostles indicate that Jesus’ death brings atonement for sins.  It is not that Jesus’ death is unimportant.  It’s extremely important for Luke.  But not as an atonement.  Instead, Jesus death is what makes people realize their guilt before God (since he died even though he was innocent).  Once people recognize their guilt, they turn to God in repentance, and then he forgives their sins.

Jesus’ death for Luke, in other words, drives people to repentance, and it is this repentance that brings salvation.  But not according to these disputed verses which are missing from some of our early witnesses: here Jesus’ death is portrayed as an atonement “for you.”

Originally the verses appear not to have been part of Luke’s Gospel.  Why then were they added?  In a later dispute with Marcion, Tertullian emphasized:

Jesus declared plainly enough what he meant by the bread, when he called the bread his own body.  He likewise, when mentioning the cup and making the new testament to be sealed in his blood, affirms the reality of his body.  For no blood can belong to a body which is not a body of flesh.  Thus from the evidence of the flesh we get a proof of the body, and a proof of the flesh from the evidence of the blood.  (Against Marcion 4, 40).

It appears that the verses were added in order to stress Jesus’ real body and flesh, which he really sacrificed for the sake of others.  This may not have been Luke’s own emphasis, but it certainly was the emphasis of the proto-orthodox scribes who altered their text of Luke in order to counter docetic Christologies such as that of Marcion.


Short story: Luke didn’t originally have the verse.  Scribes inserted it.

And that means that Luke omits all references in Mark to Jesus’ death bringing about an atoning sacrifice.

Moreover in all the speeches of Acts, where the apostles talk about the salvation that Christ brought, it is never said to have been brought specifically by his death.  It is the resurrection that matters.

My conclusion: Luke did not have a doctrine of Jesus’ death as an atonement.

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Is Luke’s Christology Consistent? A Blast from the Past
Does the Book of Acts Underplay the Significance of Jesus’ Death?



  1. Avatar
    ardeare  September 24, 2017

    Would you say that Jesus could have died in his sleep and none of Luke’s theological views on the atonement would have changed?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 25, 2017

      It seems important to him to argue that it was a miscarriage of justice, and that the Jewish leaders and people were to blame.

  2. Avatar
    caesar  September 24, 2017

    Since Paul and ‘Luke’ seem to have contradictory ideas about the atonement–and Luke seems to contradict some of Paul’s claims about his own life–does this suggest that the writer of Luke probably wasn’t an associate of Paul’s? Does this make the traditional authorship claim less likely?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 25, 2017

      Yes, for me that’s an important argument that he was not Paul’s close companion.

      • kadmiral
        kadmiral  September 25, 2017

        Also relevant seems to be Luke’s and Paul’s different understanding of the Holy Spirit–Paul includes a kind of
        “indwelling salvation” doctrine (Romans), so to speak, where Luke only ever refers to the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence (there’s not a hint of any “indwelling salvation” doctrine in Acts).

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  September 26, 2017

        Do the biographical contradictions lead you to believe Luke had not read some of Paul’s letters?

    • talmoore
      talmoore  September 26, 2017

      I wouldn’t say their views are necessarily contradictory. I would say, rather, that they each seem to be prioritizing different aspects of Jesus’ death and resurrection. If I were make a guess as to why I would say it’s because they are men of different backgrounds talking to a different set of audiences. Luke, who was a gentile himself, is talking to an audience entirely of Gentile converts, so to them the notion of Jesus’ death being an atoning sacrifice, ala the Yom Kippur holocaust, wouldn’t really resonate anyway, and might even muddy the message. But for Paul, who was still a Jew through and through, the sacrificial symbolism of Jesus’ death was still significant, regardless of whether he’s preaching to Jews or Gentiles. To my mind, at least, that explains the different messages.

  3. Avatar
    Ehteshaam7  September 25, 2017

    Hi Dr Ehrman
    I was wondering if I could interview you on some things pretaining to Christianity, The New Testament, Jesus, etc. I know you told me your busy a while ago but maybe if your schedule is free now? I am going to interview Robert M Price soon as well thats confirmed.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 25, 2017

      I’m afraid I’m turning down all interview requests right now. Just too crazily busy!

  4. Avatar
    toejam  September 25, 2017

    Another technical question for you 🙂

    I’m comparing Mark 12:13-17 / Matthew 22:15-22 / Luke 20:22. In Mark and Luke, Jesus asks specifically to see a denarius. In Matthew, Jesus asks to see “the coin used for the tax”, not specifying it as a denarius. My suspicion is that Matthew actually preserves the earliest reading of Jesus’s request. I’m curious – Are there any notable manuscripts of Luke and Mark that retain Matthew’s wording of Jesus’s request? If you know this off the top of your head and can help me out, great! But if it’s too much, feel free to ignore this microscopic question.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 25, 2017

      Codex Bezae, a peculiar but important ms from around 400 CE (so one of our earliest) substitutes Matthew’s word for the one probalby original to Luke. But it’s the only ms I know of that does that.

  5. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  September 25, 2017

    Kind of a repetition of a query you have answered, but to clarify, is Luke probably closer to the preaching of the earliest followers of Jesus?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 25, 2017

      I never htought of it that way, but I guess that’s right!

      • talmoore
        talmoore  September 26, 2017

        Couldn’t disagree more. I think Luke’s soteriology is the exact opposite of Jesus’ first followers. Namely, the very first thing the disciples came to believe — even before their belief in the resurrection — was that Jesus was taken away from them (and away from Israel) precisely because they saw it as a necessary sacrifice for their sins and the sins of “Israel,” i.e. those Jews who refused to accept Jesus’ prophetic message. Only later, after they saw “visions” of Jesus and developed an entire resurrecton rationale around it did the early Christians develop a resurrection based soteriology. Luke, being a gentile, ignored the former and embraced the latter.

        • Bart
          Bart  September 27, 2017

          Fair enough. I was thinking of what they believed while Jesus was still with them.

  6. Avatar
    Pattycake1974  September 25, 2017

    Is there an essay or a book (maybe you wrote one?) you’d recommend that focuses solely on scribal changes made that erased or aggrandized Jesus humanity? I found a few things in Orthodox Corruption, but I don’t see anything devoted to that in particular.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 25, 2017

      The only one that does that, to my knowledge, is my Orthodox Corruption, the chapter on anti-adoptionist changes (which highlight his divinity rather than his humanity) and the other on anti-docetic changes (which stress his humanity over his divinity)

  7. kadmiral
    kadmiral  September 25, 2017

    This is striking, and sad. What seems most odd to me is that this account depicts Jesus taking the cup twice, before and after eating the meal–which appear purposed as moments for espousing doctrine. I always thought this was strange. Did Jesus forget to say the doctrine in verse 20 (the second taking of the cup) from when he took the cup before the meal? Is this why he had to take the cup again after the meal? Highly unlikely. The scribe who edited this apparently thought he could just blend this extra doctrinal teaching into the story without anyone noticing it. Always the agenda to push.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 25, 2017

      He takes the cup twice *only* in the longer form of the text (vv. 19b-20), which I’m arguing were not original but were added by scribes later.

      • kadmiral
        kadmiral  September 25, 2017

        Yes. This is obviously an addition to Luke’s original text. Imagine the scribe’s thoughts who added to the text: “If I just add another cup taking scene, at the end of the supper, then I can fit my agenda in without anyone ever noticing.” Or something like that.

  8. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  September 25, 2017

    Egads! Very, very interesting. No atonement brought about by the death of Jesus in Luke and Acts. It makes me wonder why God didn’t inspire the writing and preservation of a better Bible that gets and keeps all of these details straight????

  9. Avatar
    ddorner  September 25, 2017

    In Jesus Interrupted you point out that Luke is the only one who says Jesus and John The Baptist are cousins.

    Is there any theological reason Luke would want Jesus and John The Baptist to be related? Or was it just something inherited from a separate tradition than the other Gospels?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 25, 2017

      It’s just to show the full continuity between them and to make clear that they knew each other — so when John witnessed to Jesus, he knew what he was talking about! (Luke doesn’t actually call them cousins; he just says that Mary and Elizabeth were related somehow)

  10. kadmiral
    kadmiral  September 25, 2017

    Per your bringing up the Temple curtain being torn around the time of Jesus’ death, is the reader supposed to believe/assume that Yahweh actually still dwelled in the Holy of Holies in the Temple?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 26, 2017

      Yes, I think so.

      • Avatar
        Eric  September 28, 2017

        Did Jewish thinking of the time consider Yahweh also omnipresent, in addition to abiding in the Holy of Holies?

  11. webo112
    webo112  September 25, 2017

    I wonder if Luke then added a birth narrative to his original work (which lacked it), in order to further stress the guilt of Jesus’s death, by making him more truly “the son of God” from birth, who was unjustly killed etc….or if this was a contributing reason at all.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 26, 2017

      Yes, it’s possible he produced two editions; it’s also possible that someone else later added the two chapters, not so much to oppose Jews but to stress the claims that Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem — to fulfill prophecy.

  12. DestinationReign
    DestinationReign  September 25, 2017

    There is a divine riddle to all of this. STS delves HEAVILY into this issue of Luke’s various dissimilarities from the first two Synoptic Gospels; not from a “historical” or textual point of view, but from the perspective of what it all means on a higher prophetic level.

    As has been stressed in previous posts, each Synoptic Gospel applies to different “junctures” of the Church Age dispensation – Matthew to the beginning of the Church Age, Mark to the 2,000-year duration of the age of Christianity, and Luke to the end of the Church Age (now), which is also a time of great spiritual awakening for humanity. Luke applies to this very moment.

    The reason that Luke does not allude to Jesus’ death as a salvific ransom relates directly to the awakening that must now take place as the age of religion is drawing to a close. There must be a complete transformation of how Scripture is understood. The primary focal point of this is Jesus’ death, and the necessity of it. (As you rightly point out, Acts shows the disciples emphasizing Christ’s LIFE, not His death. This all changed after Christianity’s pioneer, Paul, came into the fold and conveyed his “revelation” of a blood atonement sacrifice – 1 Cor. 15:3.)

    Also related to these matters is a higher understanding of the personhood of Christ Himself. For 2,000 years, through Christianity, Christ has been portrayed as the guy with the beard, hung on the cross; His death being the necessary atonement to reconcile man to God. An “aroma pleasing to the Lord.” The guy in the sky who will fly down from the clouds some day. This has been the cosmically orchestrated belief-construct of the Christian dispensation, which has been built upon a literalistic, concrete interpretation of Scripture. But now we must begin awakening to the notion of “Jesus Christ” actually being a representation, or “living parable,” of the INTRINSIC DIVINE ESSENCE within man himself! (There is irony in this; the man who only taught in parables is Himself a parable!) In doing this, it transcends the notion of “Jesus” as a historical figure, or religious icon, and brings to life (RESURRECTS) the dormant divine essence within man – Christ WITHIN. This is what is referenced in the prophecy found in John 14:19-20:

    “Because I live, you will live also. In that day [of awakening, or resurrecting] you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

    You can then see how a true understanding of Christ WITHIN (which Christianity has never offered) obliterates the notion of the historical guy with the beard needing to be put to death in order for man to be reconciled to God. And where do we see this doctrinal notion “put to death,” if you will? In the Gospel of Luke! The Gospel that pertains to THIS very time! Again, Luke represents a time of transition, or awakening, after the “dark ages” of Christianity and its misunderstanding of Scripture. (We see this exhibited in Luke’s unique portrayal of the calling of the first disciples. Only in Luke [5:5] do we see them confessing that they had “worked all night and caught nothing.” This is the realization that Christianity must come to; that the Church Age has been a time of darkness in which “no man could work.” [See the prophecy of coming darkness in John 9:4-5.])

    Remember, Matthew’s pre-birth prophecy forecasts Jesus coming to save His people from their sins. If we take a literal/historical approach, that WAS His mission 2,000 years ago, at the beginning of the Church Age. That is Matthew’s “prophetic domain” – the beginning of the Church Age. But in LUKE’s pre-birth prophecy, it is said that He will come to reign unendingly in His Kingdom. This is because each of the two Gospels pertains to a different “coming of Christ.” Matthew to the historical, literal coming as a sacrifice for sin, and Luke to the transcendent coming in which He will “resurrect” within man and reign THROUGH man. Not a coming in which He magically flies down from the clouds to rapture away Christians, but in the form of a “rapture” of PERCEPTION. An ascended understanding of Biblical Truth.

    “Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father.” (John 14:12)

    Again, it cannot be emphasized heavily enough that we are transitioning to a new cosmic paradigm, out of the age of blood-atonement, religious barbarism. (Is there any more egregious symbol of religious barbarism than the image of Christ mauled on the cross?) And this change has actually been encrypted in Scripture all along through DIFFERENCES in the Gospels (such as Luke’s lack of allusions to blood atonement), and the comparisons of those differences. This truly brings Scripture, the “Word of God,” ALIVE in a whole new way. (Christ is the “Word of God,” and He is coming alive within those who are awakening.)

    Matthew > Mark > Luke > John
    Beginning of the Church Age > Dark ages of Christianity > End-time awakening > Coming of the Kingdom

    (As stated in a previous post, the age of Christianity has been a “wilderness” dispensation. This is why Mark’s Gospel does not begin with a “coming” of Christ [His birth], but instead begins in the wilderness.)

    I do hope that when you find time, you will give STS a chance and stay open to the possibility that there may just be some important revelations within it!

    • Avatar
      flcombs  September 26, 2017

      “each Synoptic Gospel applies to different “junctures” of the Church Age dispensation”: is there any actual evidence for that or just theology? Why would the intended audience for these writings have concluded such things? We have plenty of historical evidence of how people can create explanations for anything. Ironically, many of the claims fundamentalists make to justify or explain Bible issues can also be used to prove other religions valid. To be beyond just another theological theory, what is the actual evidence that your theory is correct over the direct evidence that the gospel writers just wrote different things as is our common experience in many other things?

      All the “hidden meaning” in the Bible types of things is important theology. It disproves the idea of a loving God that wishes everyone could be saved since there is so much understanding required beyond what even people today can do, not to mention all the illiterate over the generations. I don’t even see how we can be sure of the original words, what is the REAL canon, translation issues, etc. It often seems to me like we are arguing over the arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic.

      “Remember: Matthew > Mark > Luke > John”: I notice in English they are in reverse alphabetic order. Is there any significance that God must have assigned them their tasks in such a way as to reveal some other mystery to us? Are the Greek names different and would be a different order or something?

      • Bart
        Bart  September 27, 2017

        They are arranged the way they are probably because John was known to be the last written, Matthew was thought to be first, Mark was thought to be a condensation of Matthew, and Luke then slotted into the third place.

        • Avatar
          flcombs  September 27, 2017

          I was basically alluding to the idea that you can make a lot out of things even when there is probably nothing really there and looking at that as an example (unless someone really thinks it is significant!). Humans have a way of finding pasterns and meaning even in random data.

  13. Avatar
    nbraith1975  September 28, 2017

    I was taught in a Christian Church, as most Christians are, that Jesus was sacrificed as the “lamb of God” for my sins. They emphasized Jesus’ death as the ultimate sacrifice.

    How can I reconcile this teaching with Acts 2 where Peter answered the crowd’s question of “what shall we do” by telling them to “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins…?”

    Peter’s answer clearly omitted anything to do with Jesus’ death as any sort of sacrifice for their sins; telling them instead that they had to be “baptized” in the “name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins.”

    Peter even reiterates that baptism is what saves us in 1 Peter 3:21

    “This is a symbol of baptism, which now saves you—not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”

    So why do Christian preachers continue to teach that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice for our sins?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 29, 2017

      Because they read in Acts based on what they find in Paul and on what they themselves already think (and what they simply assume all the biblical authors think as well)!

  14. DestinationReign
    DestinationReign  September 29, 2017

    “I don’t even see how we can be sure of the original words, what is the REAL canon, translation issues, etc.”

    That’s just it – we CAN’T be sure about any of those things. All we can be sure of is the Bible as it exists for us now, as we see it in this present time. This isn’t to diminish the importance of the work that historians such as Mr. Ehrman and others do; it is crucial to present evidences that go against mainstream Christianity’s various erroneous ideas about the composition of the Bible. But it is all for the purpose of establishing a higher understanding of what the Bible is now revealing – “mistakes” and all!

    There may have been reasonings for which the “Bible compilers” chose to order the Gospels the way they did, but even those “free will” decisions of men had a sovereign orchestration behind them. Regarding John, men may have chosen to insert it as the last Gospel for a certain reason from their earthly perspective. But from HIGHER reasoning, John is last because it applies to the higher-dimensional Kingdom dispensation. This reasoning was not able to be understood until the current juncture, as we are beginning the transition into that dispensation. We can now see and understand these things because it is the time to begin understanding them.

    Luke, just before John, is the Gospel that pertains to this current transition. Luke pertains to right now. As an example, in regards to Jesus’ last crucifixion words, notice the template:

    Matthew > Mark > Luke > John

    God forsaken > God forsaken > Commit spirit to Father > It is finished

    Luke’s alteration represents the paradigm change from the “God forsaken” dark ages of blood atonement and warring religion to a higher understanding of Truth and closer relationship with the true Father. (“God” is distant, the “Father” is close.) This regards an awakening at the end of the 2-millennia Church Age as we prepare to enter into the “third day” Kingdom dispensation. Then, for those glorified in the Kingdom – “It is finished.” Hence, the progression of Jesus’ last words have been revealing higher Truth all along; Truth hidden throughout the dark age of Christianity, when men have been tirelessly trying to find ways to “harmonize” them throughout the Gospels.

    This also explains why Luke contradicts Matthew and Mark in regards to the two thieves.

    Matthew > Mark > Luke

    Both thieves revile > Both thieves revile > One thief believes and enters paradise “today”

    In Luke, one thief believes and will enter paradise “today.” What is today? The “third day” that we are transitioning into at the end of the Church Age. Many presently incarnated on the earth now will REMAIN ALIVE to be glorified into the Kingdom “today.” Luke’s believing thief represents that congregation. Thus, even though not “historically” or “literally,” that contradiction (riddle) is SOLVED. This is teaching us to place less emphasis on historicity and literality, and more emphasis on a higher understanding of Scripture’s truths. This brings scripture ALIVE.

    Another example of Luke representing this end-time transition is found in the account of Jesus’ arrest. All three Synoptics feature a disciple (Peter) using the sword to cut off the man’s ear, but only Luke tells us that Christ healed his ear, or RESTORED HIS HEARING. For 2,000 years, Christianity has been wielding the sword destructively (declaring the Word of God Falsely). And in keeping, for 2,000 years, men have not had the “ears to hear.” There has been no true understanding of the Word. But as we are entering a paradigm change, ears to hear are being restored.

    Furthermore, John – the Gospel of the Kingdom – then comes along and tells us the victim’s name was Malchus, which actually means “kingdom”! See then that the true message of the Kingdom has been assaulted and silenced throughout the Church Age, but is now being restored. Christ preached the true Kingdom 2,000 years ago, but after He departed, that message became corrupted through Christianity and its blood atonement doctrines. Christianity has been a 2,000-year interruption of Kingdom Truth.

    And again, Luke is the only Synoptic that does not portray a doctrine of atonement. So, what a test of Truth this will be for Christians! They believe that without the cross, and without a belief in Jesus’ atoning death, they will go to hell. But in fact, that is the very belief they must relinquish in order to enter the Kingdom! (This is absolutely a divinely orchestrated riddle.)

    One last brief example of this template of Truth is the fact that only in the living and active Gospel of Luke (24:45), at the time of the third day resurrection, we read the following:

    “Then he opened their minds, that they might understand the Scriptures.”

    This is happening RIGHT NOW as we enter the “third day.”

    This all fits together seamlessly when built upon the knowledge that the age of Christianity has been a dispensational interruption of Kingdom Truth. And most ironically, Gospel DIFFERENCES hold the keys to this knowledge.

    These examples could go on and on but this post has been lengthy enough!

    • Bart
      Bart  September 29, 2017

      I think many more people will read your comments if you make them much shorter!

      • DestinationReign
        DestinationReign  September 29, 2017

        In a Twitter generation, I’m sure you are correct! But there is so much to all of this, it’s difficult to encapsulate in brief and come across as making any type of sense. The newest blog entry about John is going to be a challenge of self-restraint!

  15. Avatar
    john76  October 8, 2017

    Yom Kippur began with Abraham substituting an animal for the sacrifice of Isaac. But the ceremony had to be repeated every year. The theological point of Jesus in the epistles is that he replaces the Passover sacrifice and the Yom Kippur sacrifice, and hence replaced the temple cult. If you attach yourself to Jesus, the ritual doesn’t have to be repeated every year as was the case with the temple because Jesus’ blood magic was so powerful. The atonement theology is early and pervasive in the epistles, such as the pre-Pauline Corinthian creed, and Paul’s argument from Deuteronomy that Jesus became a curse for us being hung on a tree.

    And too in Mark, we have the withering of the fig tree wrapped around the temple story, and the tearing of the temple veil signifying the dissolution of the barrier between God and humans, and the words of the soldier signifying the dissolution of the barrier between Jews and gentiles (and the women finding the empty tomb, signifying the dissolution of the gap between men and women – women as witnesses). The first Christians were probably an anti-temple sect, like the Qumran sect, because they believed the Roman loving temple cult had become corrupt and was preventing the end of the world where God would save them and sin would be abolished. Because of this there is no reason to think the temple tantrum pericope in Mark ever happened because it served a major theological purpose, and there would have been soldiers at the temple to prevent such a disruption. The question is, what was it about Jesus’ blood that was so special and so powerful that spilling it created a blood magic spell that actually nullified the temple cult (this point lends credence to Dr. Ehrman’s claim that Jesus in Paul was understood as a pre-existent divine being)?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 9, 2017

      It was God’s perfect sacrifice of his son (in Christian theology).

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    john76  October 17, 2017

    Maybe the disciples wanted to continue Jesus’ quest against the corrupt, Roman loving temple cult ( Mark 11:15–19) after Jesus died, and so invented the story that Jesus’ death somehow enacted a super-special blood magic spell that nullified the need for the temple cult.

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      john76  October 17, 2017

      The noble lie theory is certainly one way to make sense of the apocalyptic evidence. It seems that the original Christians were an apocalyptic sect. Maybe they believed the corrupt, Roman loving temple cult as the centre of Jewish life was preventing the end of the world they so desperately wanted. So, maybe they concocted a way to negate the need for the temple cult. Supposing Jesus existed, the original disciples such as Cephas may have invented the atonement stuff about Jesus after he died (see the pre-Pauline Corinthian creed). One of the climax moments of Jesus’ life was the “Jesus vs the corrupt, Roman loving Temple Cult” story (Mark 11:15-19) . Maybe the disciples wanted to continue Jesus’ quest against the corrupt Temple Cult after he died, and so invented the idea that somehow Jesus’ death was such a unique and important blood magic sacrifice that it eliminated the need for the temple cult (as implied in the pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed). Maybe all the disciples really wanted was a society of brotherly love and moral conduct so that God would decide they were worthy of the end of the world. Maybe they believed that this “Noble Lie” about the elimination of need for the corrupt, Roman loving Temple Cult would ultimately fulfill God’s plan of making people righteous, and so would become a catalyst that would finally bring about the end of days. This theory works equally well under historicism as it does with mythicism.

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        john76  October 18, 2017

        I find it interesting that Jesus had such a strong social ethic/morality message while, at the same time, being an apocalyptic prophet who thought the world was about to end. Maybe Jesus thought something needed to happen socially in order to be a catalyst for bringing the end of the world about (perhaps nullifying the corrupt, Roman loving temple cult). Maybe Mark’s impetus for writing his gospel was that the temple had been destroyed, and so he thought the world really was about to end just as Jesus predicted.

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    john76  April 6, 2018

    I think the lack of witnesses is the whole point of the narrative of the empty tomb/resurrection story in Mark.

    Jesus’ resurrection in the Tomb seems to replace the Holy of Holies for the first Christians. Traditionally, only the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies, and so no one saw what went on there but him. In Mark, the death of Jesus triggers the tearing of the veil (Mark 15:38), and hence seems to initiate the replacement of the exclusionary Holy of Holies of what those Christians saw as the corrupt, Roman loving Temple Cult, with the site of the resurrection, which for the Christians is even more sacred than the Holy of Holies, because while only the high priest saw what went on in the Holy of Holies, no one goes in the empty tomb and witnesses what happened in the resurrection.

    In this Markan narrative, we see the naked young man (Mark 14:51), representing humans stuck in the perpetual state of the guilty Naked Adam before God, transformed with faith in Christ’s resurrection into a holy state previously reserved for the high priest in the holy of holies. This interpretation assumes the naked, young man (Mark 14:51, representing humans and their endless animal sacrifices – in a perpetual state of being the Naked Adam before an interrogating God), is the same person as the angelic young man in a state of holiness, proclaiming Christ’s resurrection in the Empty Tomb in Mark.

    Josephus records that Pompey profaned the Temple by insisting on entering the Holy of Holies in 63 BCE, so this may have been the impetus for the first Christians wanting to replace it.

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      john76  April 6, 2018

      This doesn’t reflect Jesus’ death as being an atonement for sin, where mankind is thought of as being a perpetually guilty naked Adam in the damning gaze of a Interrogating God, but rather a reinterpretation of the nature of God from ‘Accuser’ to ‘Loving Father,’ who deems as holy and resurrects even a blasphemous, convicted criminal like Jesus.

      One last thought. Jesus was certainly guilty of the crimes he was accused of. He was guilty in Rome’s eyes for a number of reasons (e.g., the assault on the money changers in the temple, etc.), and in the eyes of the Jewish high council (e.g., blasphemy). The charges were legitimate, so he deserved to die according to the standards of his day. But the charges were also stupid. Are we not to fight against social injustice as Jesus did with the money changers? The paradox was that Jesus deserved to die, but at the same time was a great person who helped a lot of people. The Christian message was one of a move from God as an accuser that the naked Adam knew, to God as a loving father who saw Jesus as a good holy man in spite of what the world had judged him to be. This has nothing to do with the penal substitution of atonement, but rather the Christians rethinking God and his relationship to humanity.

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        john76  April 7, 2018

        The key seems to be the disciples of Jesus are perceived as sinners according to the traditional understanding of “God as accuser,” because they followed the soon to be condemned Jesus, and so they fled when Jesus was arrested because they feared for their own lives. Thus, the naked young man was as guilty as naked Adam was before the interrogating eye of God. But the surprise in the story is that the young man is realized to be holy in the end, not just the follower of a condemned criminal. God was not an accuser, but a loving father who sees his children not principally as sinners but as earthly angels.

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          john76  April 7, 2018

          I think the Gospel of Mark represents a radical re-imagining of the nature of God from the God of the Old Testament and the guilty, naked Adam who was interrogating and accusing (and saw man as a sinner), to one who is primarily a loving father who was not concerned with an endless series of animal sacrifices, but rather judged us according to whether we loved Him and one another. In Mark we read:

          Mark 12:28-34 The Great Commandment:

          28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

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    Marko071291  December 9, 2018

    Hi Bart! I’ve heard dr. W.L. Craig’s claim that there are studies which show how the motive of dying for someone else was a noble thing to do in the ancient world. I’ve try to contact him about the specific references but it seems to be impossible to get an answer from him. Do you know anything about this? Hope you can help. I would really want to see those studies. Thank’s

    • Bart
      Bart  December 10, 2018

      Yes, there is a long tradition of that in Greek, Roman, and Jewish sources. Think about Euripides’ play Alcestis, or see the Jewish Maccabean literature.

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    SteveEastin@abaci.com  April 10, 2020

    I know this comment is late, but I am catching up on some old blog posts 🙂

    You wrote: “It is not that Jesus’ death is unimportant. It’s extremely important for Luke. But not as an atonement. Instead, Jesus death is what makes people realize their guilt before God (since he died even though he was innocent). Once people recognize their guilt, they turn to God in repentance, and then he forgives their sins.”

    It appears that the repentant thief went through this exact process. I assume scholars believe Luke made this variation in the story to support this point?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 12, 2020

      Yes indeed! All part of Luke’s theology, and only there!

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