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Redemption (religious)

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Redemption (religious)

This article is about theology. For other articles, see Redemption (disambiguation).

Redemption is a religious concept referring to forgiveness or absolution for past sins or errors and protection from damnation and disgrace, eternal or temporary, generally through sacrifice. Redemption is common in many world religions, including Indian religions and all Abrahamic religions, especially in Christianity and Islam.

In Judaism, redemption refers to God redeeming the Israelites from their various exiles.[1] This includes the final redemption from the present exile.

As a Christian theological term, redemption refers to the deliverance of Christians from sin.[2] It assumes an important position, however, only when the ills in question form part of a great system against which human power is helpless.[3]

In Buddhist theology, it encompasses a release from worldly desires.


In some forms of Buddhism, redemption is inherent in the discipline of giving up attachments to desires:

While other religions view the satisfaction of certain desires as the mark of salvation, Theravada Buddhism teaches that the extinction of desire is the prerequisite to salvation. While other religions hold up eternal life as the consequence of redemption, the redemptive goal of Theravada Buddhism is release from any and all forms of life. While other religions provide assistance to man in his quest for redemption, Theravada Buddhism teaches that in this quest one can rely on no one and on nothing but oneself: neither gods nor priests, neither church nor sacraments, nor faith nor works are of any avail.[4]

Other disciplines hold that "each Buddha and Bodhisattva is a redeemer", assisting the Buddhist in seeking to achieve the redemptive state.[5] The assistance rendered is a form of self-sacrifice on the part of the teachers, who would presumably be able to achieve total detachment from worldly concerns, but have instead chosen to remain engaged in the material world to the degree that this is necessary to assist others in achieving such detachment.[5] In varieties of Buddhism that include ideas of reincarnation, this relationship may be predestined from earlier life-experiences.[5] In "Pure Land" traditions, redemption takes the form of entry into a realm associated with each Buddha and Bodhisattva, a Pure Land of beauty, free of rebirth; such entry is attained via meditations, visualizations, or recitations, in particular recitation of the name of the Amitābha Buddha and mindfulness of him.


Redemption during life, at death, and after death are topics of major and ongoing disagreement in the history of the Christian churches.[6] 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."[7] The English word "redemption" means 'repurchase' or 'buy back', and in the Old Testament referred to the ransom of slaves (Exodus 21:8).[8] In the New Testament, the redemption word group is used to refer both to deliverance from sin and freedom from captivity.[9] Theologically, redemption is a metaphor for what is achieved through the Atonement[9]; 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.[10] Most evangelical theologians and Protestant denominations, however, reject Origen's belief that the ransom price of redemption was paid by God to Satan.[11]


Main article: Jewish eschatology

In Judaism, redemption (Hebrew ge'ulah) refers to God redeeming the people of Israel from their various exiles.[12] This includes the final redemption from the present exile. In Hasidic philosophy parallels are drawn between the redemption from exile and the personal redemption achieved when a person refines his character traits.

The pidyon haben, (Hebrew: פדיון הבן‎) or redemption of the first-born son,[13] is a mitzvah in Judaism whereby a Jewish firstborn son is redeemed from God by use of silver coins.


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