Problems with the Gift/Satisfaction theory
The Gift / Satisfaction theory of the atonement that I explained here, is an interesting theory of atonement. It fits well with the culture of the time. We know Jews at this time understood some deaths in this manner (the Maccabean Martyrs), and the language they use about these deaths is very very similar to the language used about Jesus in the New Testament. It also explains the use of generic phrases such as "Christ died for our sins". Three highly competent scholars I am aware of think it is taught by Paul.
Yet I have two issues with it that I just can't get my head around. They just don't make any sense to me, and I just can't understand how they could ever make sense. Both come back to the close link between Jesus and God.
1. Giving a gift to yourself makes no sense. It just doesn't. Sure the concept of splashing out as a reward for your hard work makes sense. But no one expends a great deal of effort simply to gift themselves that effort. If Jesus is in any way God's agent, the idea that he gifted his faithful life to God strikes me as plain nonsensical. It would be fine if he was human and not 'working for' God. But I just can't make sense of the idea of God trying to give a gift to himself. It seems to me that an extremely exceptionally 'low' view of Jesus' divinity is required to make any sense at all of this idea.
2. Why the need for God to give himself 'satisfaction' or a gift? If God wants to be kind, he doesn't need to give himself a gift imploring himself to be kind. To make this work, some reason has to be concocted about God not being able to do what he wants to do until he has given himself a gift to make him want to do it more. Alternatively we could say that God wants to not be wrathful and yet is obligated to be, and so has Jesus achieve satisfaction in order to get out of his obligation that he does not desire to fulfill. That was the line Anselm took. But that idea just doesn't make sense in our culture at all. And I think Anselm was scraping the barrel with this one and that it didn't make much sense in his own culture or the biblical authors' culture either.
So, in short, the gift theory is all very well and has potential. Yet it seems to demand either a fairly extreme disconnection between God and Jesus, or an implausible account of the necessities that God works under. So I can't really get my head around it as a model despite the benefits I can see in it.
So readers! What am I missing? This one has me stumped.