An Unlikely Alliance: Augustine and Feminist-inspired Reappraisals of the Atonement

Feminist theologies of the atonement have characteristically taken for granted the modern (post-Ritschlian) disjunction between atonement ‘models’ and then often rejected the sacrificial and penal as somehow mandating human violence by having God implicated in it.1 But this leaves an important aporia: what significance does the death of Christ hold? Is it simply an unfortunate accident wrought by sinners rather than intended by God in the first place? Kathryn Tanner is no exception to this feminist trend.2 Tanner goes so far to say, ‘Calling Jesus’ death a sacrifice might be indeed a way of drawing attention to something taking place on the cross other than death’. There is, in fact, some strange equivocation in her position regarding sacrifice, for earlier in the same article Tanner suggests that one of the virtues of feminist accounts is that they contextualise Christ’s death.

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