Substitution and participation in the writings of Paul : a study of four texts
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Contemporary Pauline scholarship has witnessed ongoing debate concerning the relationship between ‘substitution’ (Christ’s death in place of sinners) and ‘participation’ (the mutual solidarity and identification of Christ and sinners) in the apostle’s letters. This debate has proven intractable, in large part because both sides of the debate employ the language of substitution to denote a pre-determined model of atonement that is then attacked or defended on exegetical grounds, rather than considering the descriptive exegetical potential of substitutionary language in its own right. The following thesis employs the language of substitution in the broader sense of ‘replacement in a functional capacity’ to account for Paul’s description of the soteriological relation that exists between Christ and believers, noting also how motifs of substitution in his letters relate to participation in Christ. Through a study of the four texts that have featured most prominently in current debates (Romans 3:25 and 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13), this study demonstrates that this soteriological relation exhibits a clear substitutionary pattern—one that, moreover, is logically dependent on the notion of participation in Christ. Through their participatory identification with him, Christ’s death, resurrection and ongoing eschatological life become functionally effective for believers in place of their own bodily agency and experience. This substitutionary relationship overlaps with, but is not identical to, the predominant model of evangelical penal substitutionary atonement that has featured in recent debates.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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Embargo Date: 2024-02-15
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 15th February 2024
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