Contemporary Perspectives in Philosophy of Religion
Edited By Sebastian Kolodziejczyk and Janusz Salamon
Atonement and the Cry of Dereliction from the Cross
Any interpretation of the doctrine of the atonement has to take account of those biblical texts traditionally taken to be foundational narratives for the doctrine. Among these texts, one of the narratives that has been the most difficult to interpret is the story describing what is commonly called ‘the cry of dereliction from the Cross’. According to the Gospels of both Mathew and Mark, among the things Jesus says on the Cross is ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
There are so many things puzzling about this line attributed to Jesus that it is hard to know how to spell them all out. Furthermore, there is a rich biblical context for the line in other parts of the narrative in the Gospels, as well as in various places in the Hebrew Bible, including the Psalms and prophets. Here I will leave all of this to one side, helpful and important though it is. I have learned from consulting or considering it; but in this short paper, in the interest of focusing on just one set of problems raised by the story of the cry of dereliction, I will concentrate only on this one line, the cry of dereliction itself. In addition, I will omit consideration of virtually all commentary on this line in the history of interpretation of the Gospels. My purpose here is not historical scholarship on the line but philosophical analysis of it....
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