"The idea of vicarious atonement, i.e., the sufferings of an innocent
person having redeeming value for the sins of others, was already well
known in the Judaism of Jesus' day. The best-known expression of this
concept occurs in the Servant songs of Deutero, or Second, Isaiah
(42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52;13--53:12), where the Servant, probably
Israel itself, becomes an instrument of divine salvation through his/its
passions and death. Jesus himself is identified with the Servant of
the Lord in the early Christian proclamation (Acts 3:13,26; 4:27,30)
and is taken into the Gospel accounts themselves (Matthew 8:17; 12:18-21;
But the Servant role, at first eagerly attributed to Jesus, was later
abandoned as being too Jewish and, therefore, not readily understandable
within the Gentile world. Other, more flexible Old Testament figures
came to the surface, particularly the notion of ransom and the associated
idea of redemption. A Marcan saying (10:45) is taken up by the Gospels
(Matthew 20:28), with parallels elsewhere (I Timothy 2:6) to show that
Jesus understood his own mission as giving his life as a ransom for many.
In the New Testament world of commerce, a ransom was the price that had
to be paid to buy back a pawned object or to liberate a slave. Thus, Christ
is seen as the ransom given to liberate us all from the slavery of sin.
BUT IT HAS BEEN AN EXTRAORDINARY MISUNDERSTANDING TO VIEW THIS ACT OF
RANSOMING IN MORE THAN METAPHORICAL TERMS, AS IF IT WERE SOME NECESSARY
PAYMENT DEMANDED BY GOD. [Upper case mine] On the contrary, "the redemption
wrought by Christ" is ITSELF "the gift of God" (Romans 3:24). We have no
reason for supposing that the New Testament intended to press the metaphor
any further than did the Old Testament...
... the New Testament is trying to emphasize that the risen Lord's life
and death somehow served God's salvific purposes in history. THERE IS NO
EXACT "COMMERCIAL" DESCRIPTION OF WHAT ACTUALLY OCCURRED IN JUESUS' PASSION
McBrien, "Catholicism," p.421-422
McBrien may be a Catholic theologian, but the above view is current in
mainstream (non-fundamentalist) Protestant theology as well.
No LITERAL Adam is thus necessary to make sense of Jesus death and