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Saved from Sacrifice: A Theology of the Cross

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2006 / Paperback

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Product Description

The cross has long been not only a scandal but also a profound paradox: filled with saving significance and power, it is at the same time a sobering tragedy. In Saved from Sacrifice theologian Mark Heim takes on this paradox, asserting that the cross must be understood against the whole history of human scapegoating violence.

In order to highlight the dimensions of his argument, Heim carefully and critically draws on the groundbreaking work of French theorist and biblical scholar Rene Girard. Yet Heim goes beyond Girard to develop a comprehensive theology of the atonement and the cross through his fresh readings of well-known biblical passages and his exploration of the place of the victim.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 336
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2006
Dimensions: 9 X 6 (inches)
ISBN: 0802832156
ISBN-13: 9780802832153
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

The cross has long been not only a scandal but also a profound paradox: filled with saving significance and power, it is at the same time a sobering tragedy. In Saved from Sacrifice theologian Mark Heim takes on this paradox, asserting that the cross must be understood against the whole history of human scapegoating violence.

In order to highlight the dimensions of his argument, Heim carefully and critically draws on the groundbreaking work of French theorist and biblical scholar René Girard. Yet Heim goes beyond Girard to develop a comprehensive theology of the atonement and the cross through his fresh readings of well-known biblical passages and his exploration of the place of the victim.

Author Bio

S. Mark Heim is Samuel Abbot Professor of Christian Theology at Andover Newton Theological School, Newton Centre, Massachusetts. He is also the author of Salvations: Truth and Difference in Religion.

Editorial Reviews

John Hoffmeyer in Lutheran Quarterly
"This is an excellent work that leaves me hoping for a sequel."

Daniel L. Migliore
— Princeton Theological Seminary
"Drawing extensively from Ren? Girard's analysis of the scapegoat mechanism, Mark Heim has written a not-to-be-missed work on the unmasking of sacrificial violence by the biblical witness. He offers stunning interpretations of Old and New Testament texts as he marshals his argument that the event of the cross narrated in the Gospels is universally significant not because it repeats the deadly cycle of sacrifice present in all societies and in all religious ritual and myth but because it reverses this cycle and rescues us from the practice of scapegoating sacrifice and the violence it both hides and perpetuates. This is a theology of the cross in a bold new key."

Robert J. Daly, S.J.
— Boston College
"Saved from Sacrifice provides what, for example, Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ is disappointingly unaware of — a theology of the cross. Heim saves us from having to think of God as a cruel sacrifice-demander; saves us from the terrible consequences of thinking that God wanted his Son to suffer terribly; reminds us that the passion is not what God the Father did to Jesus but is what we did to Jesus; and saves us from the terrible 'theological' consequences of thinking that God actually wanted, willed, or demanded the violent things that were done to Jesus. If, for example, God does violence in order to achieve a good end (our salvation), should not we, in imitation of God, also be willing to use violence to achieve what we see as good? Saved from Sacrifice saves us from such a profoundly distorted view of God and Christianity, and it challenges us to refocus our attention on a more authentically Christian view of the transforming mystery of the cross of Christ. This is one of the most important and profoundly needed books to appear in our day. Its unveiling of the inherently un-Christian nature of all violence is desperately needed in our contemporary world."

Carol Zaleski
— Smith College
"Sacrifice. It's the most stirringly profound and most cruelly misunderstood word in our spiritual lexicon. S. Mark Heim has performed a great service in providing a lucid, learned, ecumenical appraisal of what sacrifice has meant and continues to mean today. A Girardian who truly appreciates the atonement theologies of the past, Heim enables Christian readers of all viewpoints to renew their humbled awareness of the cross as the sacrifice to end all sacrifices."

J. Denny Weaver
— Bluffton University
"Saved from Sacrifice will surely prove one of the most important of recent analyses of atonement and violence as well as the most thorough from a Girardian perspective. Its restatement of an atonement motif holds out the promise of productive conversation with other strands of theology."

Gabriel Fackre
— Andover Newton Theological School
"In this provocative work Mark Heim sees with a Girardian eye what may be unnoticed aspects of the atonement. While this is no substitute for classical understandings of the work of Christ, the reader is urged to follow Heim's search for a yet-to-be discerned dimension of the doctrine."

James Alison
— Catholid theologian, priest, and author
"Mark Heim has given us both a very accurate reading of the thought of Girard as it relates to the cross and a superb reworking of the doctrine of atonement. He shows how the only way through the knots of bad atonement theology is to a richer and more conservative understanding of the truth revealed by the cross. He has the ability to read texts and doctrines stereoscopically, making available and alive the way in which two apparent opposites (Christ's death was not a sacrifice at all, and it was the one true sacrifice) are both true and illuminate each other. He has a real theologian's ability to dwell on the knife-edge of interpretation and tell the truth. His study of what others have said is always deepened by his own superb readings of texts from scripture and his bringing alive of insights into the complexities of human relating. If, as it deserves, and as I very much hope, Saved from Sacrifice becomes the standard atonement textbook in the training of a whole generation of preachers and ministers, then the quality of our preaching and of our Christian living will have received an enormous fillip."

Theological Book Review
"Heim's work is an impressive example of the power of Girard's analysis. He recognizes that this perspective does not do full justice to all the dimensions of the cross but convincingly demonstrates the significance of this angle on atonement."

Theological Studies
"A remarkably rich yet coherent reading of Christian theology and history that does more than simply compile what others have said."

Interpretation
"Heim offers a fresh and very welcome understanding of the saving significance of the cross. I would enthusiastically commend this book for all who are engaged in theological education and pastoral ministry."

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