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Redemption (theology)

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Redemption is an essential concept in many religions, including Judaism and Christianity. The English word "redemption" means 'repurchase' or 'buy back', and in the Torah referred to the ransom of slaves (Exodus 21:8) as one example.



In Judaism, redemption (Hebrew ge'ulah) refers to God redeeming the people of Israel from their exiles, starting with that from Egypt. This includes the final redemption from the present exile.

The concept of redemption is however a legal and transactional one in the Torah Halakha, including various sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem:

  • Blood
  • Mating
  • Sales and borrowing
  • Some specific items like the Red Heifer
  • The concept also applies to redemption of real property such as fields and houses, stock animals, such as donkeys, produce, and specific items such as tefillin. It also means the liberation of an estate in real property from a mortgage.

    Redemption also applies to individuals or groups: an Israelite slave, an Israelite captive, and the firstborn son pidyon haben, (Hebrew: פדיון הבן‎‎) or redemption of the first-born son, is a mitzvah in Judaism whereby a Jewish firstborn son is redeemed from God by use of silver coins to a kohen. It is from these three cases that the concept of exilic redemption is derived because the People Israel are considered God's 'firstborn' derived from Jacob, who are God's slaves forever, but are currently held captive, even while they reside in the modern state of Israel.

    In Hasidic philosophy parallels are drawn between the redemption from exile and the personal redemption achieved when a person refines his character traits, though there is no source for this in the Talmud. Rather the Messianic Redemtionis linked to observing Shabbat, Jewish prayer, and the promise of redemption for those looking toward Mount Zion, the last being the original cultural source of 'zionism'. As such, the original intent of 'zionism' was the Redemption process by which the Land of Israel that has been pledged to the People Israel is reclaimed, accomplished through a payment of the debt owed to God as a fulfillment of the conditions set out in the Torah.


    As a Christian theological foundation, redemption (Greek: apolutrosis) refers to the deliverance of Christians from sin. It assumes an important position in salvation because the transgressions in question form part of a great system against which human power is helpless. In Christian theology, redemption is an element of salvation that broadly means the deliverance from sin. Leon Morris says that "Paul uses the concept of redemption primarily to speak of the saving significance of the death of Christ." In the New Testament, the redemption word group is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity. In Christian theology, redemption is a metaphor for what is achieved through the Atonement; therefore, there is a metaphorical sense in which the death of Jesus pays the price of a ransom, releasing Christians from bondage to sin and death. Most evangelical theologians and Protestant denominations, however, reject Origen's argument that God paid the ransom price of redemption to Satan.


    In Islam, redemption is achieved through being a Muslim and doing no action that would forfeit one's identification with Islam, being of sincere faith (iman) and doing virtuous actions. Muslim sinners need only turn to a merciful God in repentance and carry out other good deeds, such as prayer (salah) and charity, for redemption. As a result of this view of redemption, Muslims have criticized alternative views on redemption, especially the Christian doctrine of original sin.

    A similar concept in Indian religions is called Prāyaścitta, which it is not related to theological sense of sin, but to expiation and personal liberation from guilt or sin.


    Redemption (theology) Wikipedia

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