The Mosaic of Atonement

The Mosaic of Atonement

An Integrated Approach to Christ’s Work
Joshua M. McNall
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  • 9780310123613
  • Digital Enhanced Edition
  • Desktop, iOS, Android
  • August 27, 2019
  • Systematic Theology

About the Authors

Joshua M. McNall

Joshua M. McNall

Ph.D., University of Manchester

Joshua McNall is is Assistant Professor of Theology at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. His other books include, A Free Corrector: Colin Gunton and the Legacy of Augustine (Fortress, 2015), and the popular-level, Long Story Short: The Bible in Six Simple Movements (Seedbed, 2018). He lives in Bartlesville, Oklahoma with his wife Brianna and their four children. He blogs regularly at


The Mosaic of Atonement offers a fresh and integrated approach to historic models of atonement.

While modern treatments of the doctrine have tended toward either a defensive hierarchy, in which one model is singled out as most important, or a disconnected plurality, in which multiple images are affirmed but with no order of arrangement, this book argues for a reintegration of four famous "pieces" of atonement doctrine through the governing image of Christ-shaped mosaic.

Unlike a photograph in which tiny pixels present a seamless blending of color and shape, a mosaic allows each piece to retain its recognizable particularity, while also integrating them in the service of a single larger image. If one stands close, one can identify individual squares of glass or tile that compose the greater picture. And if one steps back, there is the larger picture to be admired. Yet in the great mosaics of age-old Christian churches, the goal is not for viewers to construct the image, as in a puzzle, but to appreciate it.

So too with this mosaic of atonement doctrine. While no one model is set above or against the others, the book notes particular ways in which the "pieces" – the feet, heart, head, and hands – mutually support one another to form a more holistic vision of Christ's work. "This is my body," Jesus said to his followers, and by reintegrating these oft-dismembered aspects of atonement, we will note fresh ways in which it was given for us.

Table of Contents

  • Abbreviations

  • Introduction: Laying Out the Pieces

    • Part 1

    • The Feet: Recapitulation
    • 1. Early Will I Seek Thee: Irenaeus on Jesus as the True Adam
    • 2. Where Are You, Adam? Recapitulation and the Human Origins Debate
    • 3. How Beautiful the Feet: Recapitulation and the Foundation of Atonement

    • Part 2

    • The Heart: Penal Substitution (and Vicarious Judgment)
    • 4. Older than the Pews: Penal Substitution in Early Christian History
    • 5. According to the Scriptures: The Bible and Penal Substitution
    • 6. Right but Repulsive? Further Critiques of Penal Substitution
    • 7. The Beating Heart: Penal Substitution as the Hub (Not the Whole) of the Atonement

    • Part 3

    • The Head: Christus Victor
    • 8. Triumph through Trickery: Reexamining the Role of Deception in Christ’s Victory
    • 9. Winking at the Devil: Examining the Ontic Status of the Satan
    • 10. O Sacred Head, Now What? Staged Triumph as the Telos of Atonement

    • Part 4

    • The Hands: Moral Influence
    • 11. Beckoning Love: Rethinking Abelard and Moral Influence
    • 12. Unmasking Violence: Girard and Moral Influence
    • 13. Perfecting Hand(s): The Spirit’s Place in Moral Influence

  • Conclusion: “This Is My Body”

  • Acknowledgments

  • Subject Index

  • Scripture Index

  • Author Index


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