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The Bible and Reconciliation

Confession, Repentance, and Restoration

series: Catholic Biblical Theology of the Sacraments, A

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This addition to the Catholic Biblical Theology of the Sacraments series provides readers with a deeper appreciation of God's gifts and call in the sacraments through a renewed encounter with God's Word.

James Prothro offers a biblical theology of the sacrament of reconciliation--the restoration of the sinner through forgiveness and repentance. Prothro fleshes out the patterns in which God's people in the Old and New Testaments approach the merciful God, confess, and are forgiven and called to reengage their relationship with God by growing in faith and love through God's ministry of grace.

Series editors are Timothy C. Gray and John Sehorn. Gray and Sehorn teach at the Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology, which prepares students for Christian mission through on-campus and distance-education programs. Gray is also president of the Augustine Institute.

Series Preface
1. Confession and Reconciliation: An Encounter with Divine Mercy
2. Sin, Mercy, and Promise: Foundations in Genesis 1-11
3. Mercy, Penalty, and Mediation: The Patriarchs and the Exodus
4. Rebuke and Promise for Israel: Kings and Prophets
5. Confession, Restoration, and Penance: Psalms and Sages
6. Confessing in Hope, Awaiting the Messiah
7. Jesus and the Mission of Restoration
8. Christ, the Spirit, and the Ministry of Forgiveness
9. Be Reconciled to God! Sin and Restoration in the Pauline Letters
10. Growing in Christ, Confessing in Hope: The Catholic Epistles and Revelation
11. The Manifold Mercy of God
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"In a time when the sacrament of reconciliation is much neglected, this urgently needed work beautifully shows how the forgiving love of God is an ongoing drama. Theologically perceptive and pastorally sensitive, James Prothro unpacks key scriptural stories to show that the sacrament of reconciliation is a liturgical expression of how wayward but repentant people have always encountered the grace of a merciful God. Those who contemplate the insights here will find their appreciation of the sacrament renewed and deepened."

Bradley C. Gregory, associate professor of Scripture, The Catholic University of America

"This volume richly illumines the place of the practice of the sacrament of reconciliation within the larger context of the Christian life as an ongoing process of intentional transformation in cooperation with the Holy Spirit--a life of turning away from the 'old person' and the discrete acts that reveal its presence and of turning toward the 'new person' who is being renewed in the image of Christ. Roman Catholic readers will find their engagement with this practice renewed by this immersion into the larger work of God to which it contributes. Protestant readers will have to confront their long-standing prejudice that there is no scriptural warrant for the practice and, perhaps, come to a deeper appreciation for the path by which their sisters and brothers in the Catholic Church 'pursue that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.'"

David A. deSilva, Trustees' Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary; author of Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation through the Book of Common Prayer

"A rarity--a book that explores the biblical inspiration and backdrop for the sacrament of reconciliation, and does so in an engaging and readable way. Prothro explores the themes of sin and forgiveness in the Scriptures and shows the reader how repentance leads to hope through God's gift of mercy and restoration. With exegetical facility and pastoral sensitivity, Prothro's book provides renewed enthusiasm for a sacrament that is often overlooked."

Laurie Brink, OP, professor of New Testament studies, Catholic Theological Union

"James Prothro's The Bible and Reconciliation is an outstanding contribution to the Catholic Biblical Theology of the Sacraments series. Prothro offers a detailed and engaging survey of confession, repentance, and restoration in the Bible and effectively demonstrates that the sacrament of reconciliation is rooted in the witness of Scripture. Readers looking for an overview of biblical narratives and practices that shows how God acts with mercy toward sinners and offers forgiveness and grace to the penitent will find this book to be a trustworthy guide."

David J. Downs, Clarendon-Laing Associate Professor in New Testament Studies, University of Oxford; Laing Fellow of Theology, Keble College

"This work is a great resource on the deep biblical roots of the sacrament and the more general Christian life of penance, reconciliation, and conformity to Christ. Exploring the teaching of the Old and New Testaments on sin, contrition, penance, and reconciliation and situating the sacrament in this wider context, Prothro invites the reader to a life of repentance and love and of hope in the merciful God who will bring to completion the work of salvation that he has begun in us."

Lawrence Feingold, professor of theology, Kenrick Glennon Seminary

"Moving sequentially through the Bible, Prothro unfolds the grand narrative of God, in his holiness, reconciling the sinful world to himself. By taking a disputed theological category back to the shared Christian territory of sacred Scripture, this volume renders important ecumenical service for discussions surrounding sacramentology. Irrespective of their ecclesial traditions, readers will find a beautiful, biblical exposition of God acting mercifully in his justice to draw sinful people to repentance, to forgive and restore them, and to teach and form them in the process. There's holy ground here that's common to us all."

Jonathan Mumme, associate professor of theology, Hillsdale College

Praise for the Catholic Biblical Theology of the Sacraments series

"Sacraments are at the heart of Catholic spirituality and liturgical life. They are celebrated in the context of the proclamation of God's Word. This excellent series will help Catholics appreciate more and more both the relationship between Word and Sacrament and how the sacraments are grounded in the riches of Scripture."

Thomas D. Stegman†, SJ, dean and professor of New Testament, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

"This series shows tremendous promise and ambition in laying out the multiple living connections between the Scriptures and the sacramental life of the Church. Taken together, these books could accomplish what Jean Daniélou's The Bible and the Liturgy accomplished for a previous generation of biblical and theological scholarship. And like that work, this series gives to students of the Bible a deeply enriched view of the mesh of relationships within and between biblical texts that are brought to light by the liturgy of the sacraments."

Jennifer Grillo, Tisch Family Associate Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

"In recent years, theological exegesis--biblical commentary by theologians--has made a significant contribution. This series turns the tables: explicitly theological reflection by biblical scholars. The result is a breakthrough. Theologically trained, exegetically astute biblical scholars here explore the foundations of Catholic sacramental theology, along paths that will change the theological conversation. This series points the way to the theological and exegetical future."

Matthew Levering, James N. Jr. and Mary D. Perry Chair of Theology, Mundelein Seminary

"The sacraments come to us clothed in images that carry their mystery and propose it to our hearts. These images come from Scripture and are inspired by the Holy Spirit, who wills to transfigure us each into the full measure of Christ. The books in this series, by situating the sacraments within the scriptural imagery proper to each, will over time surely prove themselves to be agents in this work of the Spirit."

John C. Cavadini, professor of theology, McGrath-Cavadini Director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame

The Author

  1. James B. Prothro

    James B. Prothro

    James B. Prothro (PhD, University of Cambridge) is assistant professor of Scripture and theology at the Augustine Institute in Greenwood Village, Colorado. His books include A Pauline Theology of Justification: Forgiveness, Friendship, and Life with God...

    Continue reading about James B. Prothro