Classic atonement theories have looked past the gospel narratives in an effort to uncover the underlying substructure, logic or mechanism of atonement.
What if the gospel narratives are the atonement theory? What if, instead of God’s offended honor or God’s reputation for just rule, we began our atonement theories with “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” or “In the days of Herod, king of Judea” or “In the beginning was the Word”? What if the selection of apostles, Jesus’ meals with sinners, His healings and His combat with Pharisees were integral parts of our atonement theory?
And, since all Jesus does is what the Scriptures predicted about the Christ, what if the gospels were the final chapter of an atonement theory that begins in Genesis?
One of the great contributions of Rene Girard is to lay out an atonement theory that arises from the “surface” story of the gospel narratives.