This article deals with the concept of vicarious suffering in Is 53 and its relevance for present theological reflection and understanding of Christian belief. The issue is raised against the background of traditional critique of this concept, that is, its (bad) implications for both theology (e.g. F. Nietzsche) and anthropology (e.g. I. Kant). The article wants to contribute to this discourse by raising the historical exegetical question: To what problem was the vicarious suffering in Is 53 originally an answer? The author maintains that this passage was a solution to a specific theological problem that is quite similar to the problem that the idea of vicarious suffering causes today. With this aim the question of the tradition-historical background of Is 53 stands in focus. The result is that this background most likely is to be found among the prophets during the late pre-exilic and exilic time, esp. Jeremiah and Ezekiel. In light of their proclamation the concept of vicarious suffering in Is 53 offers a way out of the curse of individual retribution. The passage under discussion thus originally belonged to a living theological debate on the issue of guilt and remission of sins. As listeners to this dialogue modern theologians can find inspiration how to use and express the concepts of vicarious suffering and atonement. Also the reception of these concepts in the New Testament points to the conclusion that it is a simplification to reduce guilt to an inner conflict in the conscience of an independent and free person. The most important question from the context of Is 53 itself is thus not if guilt can be transferred or not but if there is someone who identifies himself with the guilty.
Bibliographical noteThe information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (015017000)
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Religious Studies
- individuell vedergällning
- ställföreträdande lidande
- Jesaja 53