Sources of Atonement Theology

Early Church (1st - 8th centuries)

An old clay oil lamp from Nazareth, Israel.  Photo credit: Olivia Armstrong.


sources of atonement theology: early church

These resources explore the meaning of Jesus' death, from the understanding of the Christian community in its first four hundred years, expressed in the Nicene and Chalcedonian creeds.  Jesus is God's way of undoing human evil, in a personal, loving way.  His death was the climax of his victorious struggle over the corruption in his own human nature. We call this "Medical Substitution," although it has gone by other names.

Messages and Essays on Medical Substitutionary Atonement in the Early Church

Big Questions About God:  Comparing the Earliest Christian Theology with High Federal Calvinist Theology, and Why It Matters A workbook, with quotes and questions for discussion

Jesus Shared in Our Fallen Human Nature, That We Might Share in His Healed Human Nature A short devotional on the Gospel of Matthew 1:18 - 25 using quotes from early church sources

C.S. Lewis' Theology of Atonement An essay exploring Lewis' atonement theology ("medical substitution") and dependence on Irenaeus and Athanasius, submitted originally as a final paper to Dr. Gary Deddo for his class, The Theological Thought of C.S. Lewis

Penal Substitution vs. Medical Substitution: A Historical Comparison An analysis of the atonement theology ("medical substitution") of early church theologians, including Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyons, the Odes of Solomon, Justin Martyr of Rome, Melito of Sardis, Tertullian of Carthage, Methodius of Olympus, Athanasius of Alexandria (paper in progress to include later theologians, bishops, and councils)

The Council of Nicaea, the Origin of "the Trinity," and the Limitations of Human Language on the linguistic, theological dimension

The Council of Nicaea, the Origin of "the Trinity," and the Role of Political Power on the political history behind Nicaea

Early Christian (Patristic) Sources

General Articles

Clement of Rome (died 99/101 AD)

Ignatius of Antioch (c.35 - c.107 AD)

Odes of Solomon  (pre-125 AD)

Justin Martyr of Rome (c.100 - c.165 AD)

Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130 - 202 AD)

Clement of Alexandria (c.150 - 215 AD)

Melito of Sardis (died 180 AD)

Tertullian of Carthage (c.155 - c.240 AD)

Origen of Alexandria (c.184 - c.253 AD)

Methodius of Olympus (died 311 AD)

Lactantius of Rome (c.250 - c.325 AD)

Jacob of Nisibis (died 338 or 350 AD)

Eusebius of Caesarea (c.260 - c.340 AD)

Aphrahat the Persian (c.280 - c.345 AD)

The Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople (325 AD, 381 AD)

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.298 - 373 AD)

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306 - 373 AD)

Cyril of Jerusalem (315 - 386 AD)

Hilary of Poitiers (c.310 - 367 AD)

Ambrose of Milan (340 - 397 AD)

Gregory of Nazianzus (329 - 389 AD)

Basil of Caesarea (330 - 379 AD)

Gregory of Nyssa (c.335 - 395 AD)

John Chrysostom of Constantinople (c.349 - 407 AD)

Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430 AD)

John Cassian (c.360 - c.435 AD)

Cyril of Alexandria (c.376 - 444 AD)

Theodoret of Cyrus (c.393 - c.458 AD)

Prosper of Aquitaine (c.390 - c.455 AD)

Leo of Rome (c.400 - c.461 AD)

Jacob of Serug (c.451 - 521 AD)

Pseudo-Macarius (4th - 6th centuries AD)

Maximus the Confessor (c.580 - 662 AD)

John of Damascus (c.675 - 749 AD)

sources of atonement theology

These resources explore the foundation of “Medical Substitution” as the best understanding of the Bible, and the original understanding of the church. There are also links to books, web articles, etc. from representatives of the three broad Christian traditions.