The Stoicheic Backdrop of Atonement Theology

Peter Leithart (Delivered from the Elements of the World) argues that the proper backdrop for the doctrine of the atonement is the “stoicheic” structure of the fallen world. Both Jews (Gal 4:9) and Gentiles (Gal 4:3) were enslaved under the “elements (stoicheia),” manifest in ritualized cosmology and cosmic liturgies, social worlds kept in delicate equilibria through rites of purifying the polluting and the fencing of the holy. Paul insists that, somehow, Jesus brought this old order to an end (cf. ch. 1, esp. 41) — an atonement theology is a description of how this happened.

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