Atonement Theories: A Way through the Maze

By Ben Pugh

An up-to-date and highly illuminating guide to how the atonement of Christ has been understood and interpreted by theologians over the centuries.

ISBN: 9780227175002


With the subject of the atonement of Christ currently attracting a plethora of polemical work, it can be easy to conclude that the debate is generating more heat than light. Atonement Theories presents an accessible and fair treatment of every school of thought on this subject to offer clarity for the beginning student, pastor, or researcher.

Ben Pugh significantly updates previous histories of the doctrine, providing analysis of some fascinating and highly significant recent developments. He also intriguingly highlights where aspects of this central message of Christianity might find a connection within contemporary culture. Atonement Theories empowers the reader to gain a working knowledge of current debates and the history behind them.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 204

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Ben Pugh is Lecturer in Theology at Cliff College, Derbyshire. He is the author of The King of the Jews (2014).



Part One: Christus Victor
1. The Ransom to Satan
2. Recapitulation and Theosis

Part Two: Objective Theories
3. Satisfaction Guaranteed: Anselm
4. Luther and Calvin
5. The Nineteenth Century
6. Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Developments

Part Three: Subjective Theories
7. The Cross as Transformative Revelation
8. “The Spirit Comes from the Cross”: The Pneumatological Synthesis

Part Four: A New Option? Anthropological Theories
19. The Story of Nonviolent Atonement
10. The Way through the Maze: Some Initial Deductions




Endorsements and Reviews

Ben Pugh gives us an invaluable contemporary guide to the variety of accounts of the atonement that have been advanced, and a judicious evaluation of them. The reader seeking a map of contemporary atonement theology will find it here and the reader wondering which contemporary accounts are correct, and which are in error, will be challenged and informed by this book. The whole is learned but readable, and a valuable addition to the literature on the atonement.
Stephen R. Holmes, Senior Lecturer in Theology, University of St Andrews, Scotland

Atonement Theories plugs a gap in the recent avalanche of writing about the atonement. In reviewing the origins of various theories of the atonement, including very recent ones, it highlights both the enduring value and provisionality of all such models that grapple with the central truth that ‘Christ died for us’. It is a surprisingly informative and accessible survey that is not afraid to question some taken-for-granted assumptions. Its forays into recent popular views give it added value. This will prove a very useful book to all those concerned about the atonement.
Derek Tidball, Former Principal of London School of Theology, Middlesex

This scholarly but highly readable overview of the theories of God’s atoning work in Christ is a ‘must have’ for anyone who is tasked with preaching on the subject. … I would warmly recommend this book to preachers, and theological students working in contexts ranging from A-level to ministerial training, as well as to spiritual directors and those who train them.
Lorraine Cavanagh, in Modern Believing, Vol 57:1

Ben Pugh casts a Protestant eye over the varied ways in which the atonement has been understood through Christian history. A series of perceptive summaries produce a mini-encyclopedia of the atonement, for which students will be particularly grateful, but he skilfully sets out the sometimes surprising ways in which different approaches have interacted.
Dr Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, in Church Times, 15 January 2016

An excellent book which more than lives up to the claims made for it by the author in his introduction. It is well-written and easy to read as well as being thoroughly referenced. … This book has much to offer Readers at whatever stage of their ministry, and will hopefully go some way to bringing about a rapprochement between those who hold particular views at opposite ends of the spectrum – to the exclusion of all others.
Marion Gray, in The Reader, Vol 115, No 2