Monday, February 13, 2006

Jesus Christ as the Scapegoat

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.
--Isaiah 53:4

Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all the transgressions, all their sins;...The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a solitary land.
--Leviticus 16:21-22

The so-called "Servant Songs" in Isaiah 49-53 have been analyzed in great detail since the 1940's. They are indeed mysterious, even from the standpoint of one who believes that they prophecy Jesus Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that they make reference to the scapegoat ritual in Leviticus 16 (and more broadly to the entire Day of Atonement ritual), as well as to the peace offerings detailed earlier in Leviticus (esp. ch. 5). There can be hardly any doubt that the author of the letter to the Hebrews, as well as Philip the Deacon (Acts 8:26-40) and by extension, Saint Luke the author of Acts, all saw these connections. Yet there is a tremendous reluctance among scholars to admit that Jesus died as a kind of sacrificial atonement.

I hope to make further comparisons in the next few days. In doing so, I pray that God may help me make it clear how and why this is a help to our faith.

Peace to you!

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
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may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

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