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Atonement at the right hand: the sacrificial significance of Jesus’ exaltation in Acts

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Luke-Acts is strangely silent regarding the sacrificial significance of Jesus’ crucifixion. Curiously, too, Acts more closely links the salvific benefits that Jesus provides with his resurrection and exaltation than with his death. Luke, many conclude, is not concerned to explain Jesus’ atoning work in terms of Jewish sacrificial categories. By way of contrast, this article argues that Luke’s connection of forgiveness and purification (i.e., sacrificial atonement) with Jesus’ exaltation indicates that Luke is aware of the sacrificial aspects of Jesus’ work. Jewish sacrifice consists of a hierarchically structured ritual process that cannot be reduced to the slaughter of the victim. In Leviticus, the culminating elements of this process occur as the priests convey the materials of the sacrifice into God’s presence (i.e., offer the sacrifice) by approaching and serving at the various altars. Such a perspective on sacrifice is suggestive for interpreting Luke’s emphasis on Jesus’ exaltation in Acts. Luke has not stressed the sacrificial aspects of Jesus’ death, but has highlighted the atoning benefits of Jesus’ exaltation because he understands Jesus to have offered his atoning sacrifice as part of his exaltation to the right hand of God.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-568
JournalNew Testament Studies
Early online date14 Sep 2016
StatePublished - Oct 2016

    Research areas

  • Acts, Sacrifice, Atonement, Exaltation, Luke

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