Forgiveness and Reconciliation in the New Testament

Repairing and compensating offence has always been a necessity for cooperation and human interaction to function. Forgiveness and reconciliation are central theological concepts in the New Testament and in Christianity, both for interpersonal conflict resolution and the relation between God and humanity. These two aspects of reconciliation are repeatedly intertwined. In this course we study how the adherents of early Jesus-movement understood these two aspects of reconciliation and how their interpretations relate to Jewish and Greco-Roman thought. We use social-scientific and psychological theories to better understand the dynamics and motivations behind practices such as punishment, revenge, sacrifice, compensation, penance, repentance, blame, excuse, tolerance, clemency and forgiveness. We analyze New testament texts and other texts from the era about forgiveness and reconciliation in the light of ancient notions and contemporary research. We examine the role of honor and hierarchy for conflict resolution and ask questions about theological and ethical implications.

At the end of the course, the student is expected to:

  • Be acquainted with different attitudes to conflict resolution and reconciliation in Antiquity and be able to discuss how these interact with the views on forgiveness and reconciliation in the New Testament
  • Be able to analyze forgiveness and reconciliation in New Testament texts.
  • Be able to discuss ethical and theological implications of ancient ideas with contemporary research as hermeneutical tools.

Anderson, Gary, 2009. Sin: A History. New Haven: Yale University Press. P. 3–188 (186 p)

Bash, Anthony, 2011. Just Forgiveness: Exploring the Bible, Weighing the Issues. London: SPCK. P. 3–147 (145 p)


Bash, Anthony, 2015. Forgiveness: A Theology (Eugene: Cascade Books). P. 3–142 (141 p)

Konstan, David, 2010. Before Forgiveness: The Origins of a Moral Idea. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. (171 p)

McCullough, Michael E., 2008. Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (237 p)

Roitto, Rikard & Kazen, Thomas, 2021/22. Dynamics of Moral Repair in Antiquity: A Comparative and Socio-Cognitive Study. Under development. (part 1, ch 1-5, ca. 200 p)

Articles (ca. 100 p)

The schedule is available at the latest one month before the course starts. We do not recommend that you print the schedule as some changes may happen.

Open the Schedule

Rikard Roitto

Docent, senior lecturer


A = Excellent, B = Very good, C = Good, D = Satisfactory, E = Sufficient, Fx = Insufficient, F = Insufficient

Examination Format

  • Papers
  • Seminars

General requirements. Courses in theology 60 credits, including Evangelierna och breven, 15.0 credits or equivalent.

  • Completion of a course requires a minimum of 80% attendance at lectures and 100% attendance at seminars/group work and other assignments. Absence beyond that can be compensated by supplementing assignment(s) if the instructor finds it possible. In case of an absence of 50% or more, the course is considered as interrupted, even if assignments have been completed.
  • Students have the opportunity to take the exam according to the original course syllabus within two years after the course. If there are special reasons, such a re-examination can also take place later. Normally, teaching is not given according to an older syllabus. The possibility of exemption shall be decided by the president or vice president.
  • If a student due to disability has a decision from the EHS on special pedagogical support, the examiner shall, if necessary, adapt the examination and conduct the examination in an alternative way.

Established by Subject Representative College at Enskilda Högskolan Stockholm on December 16, 2020.