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Atonement and 'Tsedakah' in the Old Testament and Judaism

정연호 1

1장로회신학대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The present work purports to search for the theological background of the 'tsedakah'( ) of Judaism, which can be translated as charity and has been considered as a means for the atonement of sins. The term 'tsedakah' in the Old Testament, of which the original meaning is righteousness, does not appear in the priestly texts, while the term atonement is not dealt with in prophetic theology. In the light of the fact that in Judaism the 'tsedakah' as charity has been considered as a way of atonement for sins, it can be presupposed that into the 'tsedakah' of Judaism could be integrated the term 'tsedakah'(righteousness) and the term atonement in the Old Testament. The aim of the current work could be attainable through ascertaining this pre- supposition. Methodologically, I will examine what attitude priestly theology and prophetic theology had towards sin respectively, and apply the priestly atonement formula to prophetic theology. Through this examination it can be known if the 'tsedakah' of Judaism is an amalgamation of 'tsedakah' (righteousness), which is prophetic term, and atonement, which is priestly term. The priestly theology grasps sin at the point of cultic cleanness and thus its atonement was focused on the remedy of profaneness and impurity. However, prophetic theology preferred the word 'avon'( ), which could be identified with injustice and lawlessness when it was meant for social and ethical sins. The atonement formula in the priestly laws is 'repentance sacrificial offering forgiveness.' According to this formula the sacrificial offering can be interpreted as the sign of repentance. When applying this formula to prophetic theology, the sacrificial offering can be identical with the life of righteousness which was emphasized in prophetic theology. Particularly in prophetic theology the life of righteousness was the life of the 'tsedakah', which was the concretization of the abstract righteousness('tsedek' ) from God and the actualization of social justice. The theological thoughts reflected in the 'tsedakah' in Judaism can be summarized as 'life-care' and 'correction of the world.' 'Life-care' and 'correction of the world' are to protect the life and dignity of human beings created in the image of God from all kind of threats as well as poverty, and to join in the restoration and reformation of the corrupted creation-order by sins. In this regard, the perspective of the 'tsedakah' in Judaism is connected to the social justice of the prophetic theology. While the 'tsedakah' of Judaism inherits its tradition from prophetic theology, it seems to suppose the acceptance of the priestly atonement formula of 'repentance sacrificial offering forgiveness.' If it is given, the act of atonement in prophetic theology is the life of righteousness, which is comparable to the sacrificial offering in priestly theology. If the sacrificial offerings in priestly theology serve to purify the altar and the temple defiled with sins, it can be said that the life of righteousness in prophetic theology serves to cleanse the world contaminated with injustices. The 'tsedakah' of Judaism following after the tradition of prophetic theology as well as accepting the term of atonement of priestly theology can be viewed as a means of the sacrifice for the atonement of sins. This work may suggest a possibility for a holistic model of the atonement theology through the integration of priestly theology and the prophetic one.

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