Triune Atonement: Christ’s Healing for Sinners, Victims, and the Whole Creation

Triune Atonement by Andrew S. Park

Triune Atonement by Park

In this recent book, Triune Atonement: Christ’s Healing for Sinners, Victims, and the Whole Creation (2009), Andrew Sung Park attempts to explore the biblical and theological meanings of Christ’s atonement for victims, oppressors, and nature from a Korean American perspective. Park underlines a new understanding of Christ’s death outlining two main parts: Part 1: Atonement History; and Part 2: The Triune Atonement.   

In Part 1, Dr. Park reviews the history of atonement by examining the major atonement theologies developed from the second century C.E. (Irenaeus) to the twentieth century C.E. (Tillich). He examines the main points of each theology of atonement using primary resources and evaluations. His critical review of the theology of atonement allows him to argue the fact that “most of them basically leave untouched the issue of the liberation of victims and their healing (p. 37).” Based upon his critical review of the development of this atonement of theology, in Part 2, Park develops his main theme of Jesus’ atonement for victims, oppressors, and all creation. In this matter, he rejects the traditional theories of atonement.   

 Why, then, the triune atonement? His idea of the triune atonement comes mainly from the Gospel of John and from the church fathers. He articulates that the Paraclete (παράκλητος) whose functions are to intercede, to comfort, and to help the victims. His intention is to highlight the significance of the work of the Paraclete involving the person of Jesus and God. In his introduction to the book, Park clearly asserts that “the church has not explicitly explained the work of the Paraclete for our atonement, but God has transformed, saved, and liberated people through the Paraclete (xiv).”   

Park argues that “Jesus’ cross restores victims’ integrity and dignity by repudiating the idea of a sin-punishment formula (p. 69).” This means that Jesus’ atonement includes both the victims and the oppressors. He emphasizes the idea of “sin-forgiveness” formula instead of the “sin-punishment,” as he suggested in his previous book, From Hurt to Healing (2004) in which he advocates a theology of the wounded. Park believes that the Bible shows that “the God of the Hebrew Bible is the God of mercy and grace,” and God even forgives people with no punishment as expressed in Jesus’ parable of the lost son in Luke 15.   

One of the most intriguing arguments in this book is the suffering of nature from abusive treatment by humans. His book ends with his own reflection on the passage of Isaiah (Isa 11:6-9) as follows: “Here the predators and the victims eat and play together, and the oppressors and the oppressed rest and enjoy each other in God’s creation. When we come to live with God’s nature in harmony, we will be able to acclaim God with shouts of joy (p. 108).” Thus, this book underlines the renewal of God’s whole creation. Park’s theology on atonement moves further from the redemption of humanity (both victims and the oppressors) to the restoration of the whole creation.   

One thing I want to make clear is that his book attempts to explain the meaning of Jesus’ atonement for victims and victimizers from an Asian American perspective. Park approaches this topic with the Korean term han. While he clearly defines the Korean word han to describe Jesus’ atonement for the victims, he does not develop how this particular Korean term han furthers soteriology in the idea of Jesus’ atonement for oppressors and the whole creation.

A Liverly New Interpretation of Genesis: Original Sinners

Today, I got a new book entitled Original Sinners by John R. Coats. As soon as I got the book, I looked at the contents. In his new interpretation of Genesis, Coats, former Episcopal priest, explores the strengths and weaknesses of the characters in the book of Genesis. Beyond the biblical scholarship, I think that his theological reflection on the people and stories of Genesis can help our own life, family, and colleagues. Senior Publicity Manager, Heidi Metcalfe introduces this book as follows:

Coats demonstrates how we can view the characters and stories on Genesis as metaphors in which to see the best, the worst, and all the intermediate states in ourselves- greed, generosity, betrayal, growth, and trasformation and redemption.  

I recommand the book anyone who wants to reflect the significance of the stories of Genesis for our contemporary life, not to explore the socio-historical contexts from which the book of Genesis emerged.

The 352nd Meeting of the Chicago Society of Biblical Research

The 352nd  meeting of the CSBR (Chicago Society of Biblical Research) was held at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. The meeting, in particular, was to honor the scholarship of Professor Hans Dieter Betz. Two scholars who are former students of Dr. Betz offered their tributes to Dr. Betz: Clare K. Rothschild and Margaret M. Mitchell.

Meeting of Chicago Society of Biblical Research

In the session, three papers were presented, and the followings are the abstracts: 

1. Revisiting the Judicial Species of Rhetoric for Galatians by Troy Martin (Xavier University)

 The primary purpose of this paper is to evaluate an old suggestion by Cornelius a Lapide and Heinrich August Schott about the syntax of Galatians 1:6-7 that supports Hans Dieter Betz’s association of Galatians with forensic rhetoric. Rather than connecting εἰ μή in verse 7 to the preceding relative clauses as do all other commentators, they connect these two words to Θαυμάζω in verse 6. According to them, εἰ μή introduces a protasis for an apodosis that begins with Θαυμάζω. The resulting syntax indicates that Paul adopts the rehtorical strategy of “shifting of blame” in this attempt to persuade the Galatians to return to his gospel. Since shifting of blame is a recognized strategy in forensic rhetoric, their explanation of the syntax of Galatians 1:6-7 makes this part of the forensic species of rhetoric useful for understanding one aspect of Paul’s rhetorical strategy in Galatians.

2. The Depictions of Paul and Other Jews as Present and Former Persecutors in the Acts of the Apostles by James Kelhoffer (St. Louis University)

This paper examines persecution as a basis for legitimacy in the Acts of the Apostles. In particular it considers Luke’s negative depictions of Jews as persecutors and Luke’s characterization of Paul as the persecuted former persecutor.

3. The Cultic Status of the Levites in the Tmeple Scroll: Between hermenutics and History by Jeffrey Stackert (University of Chicago)

The complex views of Levitical cultic status in the Pentateuch continued to develop in Second Temple Jewish Literature. In several texts (e.g., Chronicles, the Testament of Levi, Aramaic Levi, Jubilees), the status of the Levites vis-à-vis the priests changes and even improves relative to their rank in pentateuchal Priestly literature. Perhaps no Second Temple text, however, is more noteworthy on the question of the relative status of priests and Levites than the Temple Scroll. By both mediating between biblical Priestly and Deuteronomic perspectives and innovating beyond them, this text introduces cultic privileges for the Levites unattested in other Second Temple literature. In this paper, I will attempt to explain the Temple Scroll authors’ exegetical engagement with their biblical sources as a basis for their novel presentation of Levitical cultuc rights. I will also consider the historical conditions that facilitate the legal innovations that the Temple Scroll introduces with regard to Levitical cultic status.

Greek and Hebrew Devotional in BibleWorks 8

I recently installed BibleWorks 8 into my computer. Whenever I open the program an annoying pop-up windows shows up. I hate pop-up windows. But I have learned that it is a new tool in BibleWorks 8 callled “Greek and Hebrew Devotional.” I found it is a very helpful tool (not just a pop-up windows) for keeping my reading of Greek and Hebrew everyday. Here is what the BibleWorks Classroom Resources comments on Greek and Hebrew Devotional:

A new tool in BibleWorks 8 is the Daily Light devotional. This new tool can not only provide daily inspiration from the Bible, but can also be used to refresh and enhance knowledge of Greek and Hebrew.

Click Tip 2.2: Greek and Hebrew Devotional for details.

How Do We Know the Locations of Biblical Place?

My colleague Kevin Wilson, who is currently teaching an introductory Bible class at Wartburg College, showed me a student’s test paper. The student completly messed up on the map test. The student locates Jerusalem at the vicinity of Damascus; Megiddo is located in Egypt; and so on.

I asked myself these questions, “How do we know the locations of biblical place?” “How are the locations of the ancient places determined?” “Did William F. Albright was completely right to locate the biblical places?” There can be little question, regarding the locations such as the Jordan River, ancient Jerusalem, Hebron, and Mediddo. But many biblical locations are problematic.

In his article, Maxwell Miller (“Biblical Maps” [BR 3/4, 1987]) notes three kinds of evidence to locate sites of ancient cities: (1) ancient written sources, including the Bible, provide to determine the loactions; (2) modern Arabic place-names that preserve the memory of ancient names offer a second kind of evidence; and (3) the archaeological excavations are the thrid kind of evidence.

Miller points out that the most influential biblical archaeologist William F. Albright was wrong to locate the biblical site Debir (Joshua 10:38-39; 15:15). After his excavations between 1926 and 1932, he published the book The Excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim (1933) and argued Debir is identified with Tell Beit Mirsim. His identification of Tell Beit Mirsim as biblical Debir was dependent on his military conquest model, and it is presupposed in a whole generation of Bible atlases, such as The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible. In the 1960s, however, Moshe Kochavi excavated a site called Khirbet Rabud, a deep in the hill country by southwest of Hebron, this site is regarded as a more likely candidate for Debir than Tell Beit Mirsim. 

Miller insists that our biblical maps and atlases represent scholarly opinion as result of the biblical and archaeological research, rather than primary evidence of what they assert. Thus, the three kinds of evidence-ancient written sources, modern place-names, and archaeology-must be used carefully and cautiously.

Reference List

Miller, Maxwell. “Biblical Maps” BR 3/4 (1987).

Seminary Teachers as Scholars for the Church

What would be the most expected question when you have a job interview for a faculty position in the theological school? The question woul be, accrdong to Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore and Ted A. Smith who teach at Vanderbilt University Divinity School in Nashville, “How would your introductory course in your field help prepare students for ministry?” Or “What do you think ministers really need to know about your subject in order to lead people in lives of faith and action?” These questions are not new at all, but many scholars stumbled when they were asked, Miller-McLemore and Smith said in The Christian Century (Feb. 26, 2008). They introduced a survey, which has done by a Vanderbilt study group in 2003, how academic deans and presidents disappointed by the candidates coming out of top graduate programs:

One dean said that ‘at least two-thirds of applicants’ for positions in his school ‘give not evidence of understanding what it takes to prepare people for ministry.’ . . . Too many candidates in the so-called classical disciplines – like biblical studies and church history – demonstrate neither the desire nor the ability to connect their scholarship to the work of ministry and the lived religion of existing communities.

Vanderbilt launched a Program in Theology and Practice in the fall of 2006 that brings faculty members together and advanced Ph.D. students for conversations. As I am a doctoral student at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) in biblical studies, I also realize the gap between seminary and ministry. How can I be better conneted to the work of ministry and the life of congregations? It would be good to have a monthly teaching and research colloquy as Vanderbilt Divinity School does.

Last weeks I heard that Seabury-Western Theological Seminary will immediately suspend recruitment and admissions to all degree and certificate programs in this time of discernment. My current roommate Kevin Wilson, as an Episcopalian and a scholar, was very sad by the decisions. I got an email from the Academic Dean Kadi Billman at LSTC and shared a letter of SWTS President Gary Hall. President Hall pointed out that one of the reasons of their decisions is a lack of communication between seminaries and churches as follows:

We believe that the church does not need Seabury in its present form; there are a number of other schools who do what we have traditionally done as well as we do. But we also believe that the church very much needs a semianry animated by and organized around a new vision of theological education-one that is centered in a vision of Baptism and its implications for the whole church, one which is flexible and adaptive and collaborative in nature (SWTS President Gary Hall’s Letter, “To the Seabury Community,” February 20, 2008).

This is a significant challenge to the semianry educational system; seminaries need to think of thier vocation in relation to the church. An expert warns in The Christian Century of this week that twenty seminaries will be out of business in the next five to seven years.

The Center for the Study of Korean Christianity

fianl-logo.jpgThere are twelve theological schools located in Chicago area (The Association of Chicago Theological Schools, know as ACTS). In the ACTS, Korean students are majority among other international students. Some Korean studetns in the ACTS with Dr. Bo-Myung Seo, who teaches at Chicago Theological Seminary, launched a center so-called The Center for the Study of Korean Christianity (CSKC) in last June 2007. One year anniversary is just around the corner.

The CSKC is a research and outreach institute founded to promote the study of Korean christianity and its theology in North America. The center is particuarly interested in the progressive tradition that has struggled with the Korean-ness of christianity in Korea. The activities of the center are translations of Korean theological texts into English, academic seminars, and community lectures for the Korean-american churches in Chicago area. The website is currently running by me.