Jews and the Passion Essay

1459 Words 6 Pages
For Christianity, the 12th century represented a century of both internal and external changes. While the crusades sought to impose a “universalized Christian faith” on those outside of the religion, the internal mechanisms of the Church began to promote reformations that encouraged a unification of the “doctrine, liturgy, piety and politics within Western Christendom”. During this century, Christians began to experience a cohesive and sacred community. Anselm of Canterbury and Peter Abelard made theological advancements that allowed for the unification of the Church – and for a drastic change in Jewish-Christian relations. Their theories of atonement began to shape the way in which Christian’s approached Jews in the questions of God. …show more content…
In Christianity, there are three dominant theories of atonement: the satisfaction theory, ransom theory and moral influence theory. The predominant theory during Anselm’s time was the ransom theory articulated by the second-century Gregory of Nyssa. This doctrine argues that Jesus died to pay a ransom to the devil. Because Jesus was actually God himself, the sacrificial death of Jesus and the inability of the devil to constrain his soul allowed God to defeat the devil and emerge victorious allowing for the release of those under Satan’s bondage. This theory is considered the “classical” doctrine and was taught consistently by all of those in the church including Augustine. The ransom theory was predominant for a millennium until Anselm of Canterbury offered a different approach to atonement. Unease with the ransom theory urged Anselm to argue against it and formulate his own representation of atonement. He argues that this doctrine gives the devil too much power; after all, why would God owe anything to Satan? Anselm’s theory suggested that mankind owes God a debt of honor (for the fall of Adam). Essentially, this debt has created a moral imbalance. In his famous treatise Cur Deus Homo, Anselm attempts to demonstrate how it is that through the incarnation that salvation is achieved.

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