Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 12. The Development of Catholic Theology in Conflict with Heresy” Sections 137-158, Loc. 18758-20235.
§ 153. Redemption.
After a brief and lightly annotated bibliography, Schaff speaks to the importance of the idea of redemption. “The work of the triune God, in his self-revelation, is the salvation, or redemption and reconciliation of the world: negatively, the emancipation of humanity from the guilt and power of sin and death: positively, the communication of the righteousness and life of fellowship with God” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19803). One of the key goals of every religion is some form of reconciliation with God. Christianity proclaims this through an objective reality of Christ’s death and resurrection, as well as the more subjective work of the Holy Spirit received by grace through faith. Schaff notes that while the Scriptures bear witness of all this truth, it has only gradually been unpacked and interpreted by the Church. “Experience anticipated theology” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19809). The language of early Christianity is based in a grateful attitude of thanksgiving rather than in analytical explanation of the implications of salvation. The doctrine of redemption is treated differently from those of the trinity or of the nature of Christ. However, Schaff emphasizes, “all the essential elements of the later church doctrine of redemption may be found, either expressed or implied, before the close of the second century” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19815).
Schaff goes on to describe the way various aspects of redemption were described in early Christianity, from Christ’s victory over Satan and his claims (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19821), to Christ’s ability to win in the conflict due to his person as God the Son (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19826), to the fact that Jesus’ death could satisfy the demands of God’s Law (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19832). A fairly comprehensive analysis appears in Irenaeus, but the concepts were present before his writing. Again, the explanatin came after the realization (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19844). Origen, differing from Irenaeus, sees Christ paying a ransom to Satan so as to purchase humanity from the owner of the sinful beings (Schaff 2014, Loc. 19856). This view was not broadly accepted. Schaff sees Athanasius as the other Greek father who analyzed this issue of redemption. Later analysis was within the Latin church.