My question "Do source-criticism scholars think the doctrine of Atonement originated after the Crucifixion?" was just deleted, with the reason given that "When a doctrine in a particular form originated might work as a question on Christianity, but as noted above it's not really on topic for this site." But it was my impression that questions related to source criticism scholarship are relevant to Hermeneuetics.SE. Are there any modifications I could make so that it's on-topic at Heremeneutics.SE rather than Christianity.SE?
Also, could I request that my question simply be closed rather than deleted? My question had quite a good answer drawing on source-criticism scholarship, and I'd like to see it.
In any case, here is the text of my question:
Do source-criticism scholars think the doctrine of Atonement originated after the Crucifixion?
One of the major arguments that secular scholars give for the historicity of Jesus is that if Paul or someone else was making up the story of Jesus out of whole cloth, they would not make up the detail that Jesus was crucified. That's because the fact that a putative Messiah was assassinated would hugely undermine belief in him. So the fact that this embarrassing detail is included in the story is an indication that it's a true detail about his life.
But this got me thinking, Christianity managed to survive despite this embarrassing detail, because it contextualizes Jesus' execution as dying for the sins of Mankind. This doctrine of Atonement is encapsulated in John 3:16, where Jesus says "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life." But secular scholars who believe in source-criticism don't believe that all Jesus quotes in the Gospels are authentic expressions of Jesus' thoughts. So my question is, do source-criticism scholars believe that the doctrine of Atonement was developed by Christians after Jesus' death, as a way of explaining away the inconvenient fact that a putative Messiah was killed?
Now source criticism has moved away from the idea of ipsissima verba, the notion that some statements in the Gospels are close to the actual words that Jesus uses. This has been replaced with ipsissima vox, the notion that some statements in the Gospels at least capture the concepts that Jesus expressed, if not his precise wording. So I want to know if source-criticism scholars believe that the Jesus quotes enunciating the doctrine of Atonement constitute ipsissima vox or not.
Now the general consensus of source criticism is that the three synoptic Gospels are derived from two sources, the gospel of Mark and a lost sayings gospel called Q. But Dominic Crossan goes one step further and argues that Mark, Q, and the apocryphal gospel of Thomas all drew from a source known as the Common Sayings Tradition, which would have at least reflected Jesus' original thoughts, i.e. ipsissima vox. Here is an attempted reconstruction of the Common Sayings Source by the Jesus Seminar; you can see that the doctrine of Atonement is nowhere to be found. But do other source-criticism scholars agree with Crossan that the doctrine of Atonement was a later addition to Christianity?
Note that I don't want users to give their own views on whether Jesus' death undermines Christianity or whether the Atonement is a later addition. I just want to know what source-criticism scholars have to say on this issue.
EDIT: This blog post is a good example of the historicity argument I alluded to in the beginning of my question:
But probably the best example of an element in the story which was so awkward for the early Christians that it simply has to be historical is the crucifixion. The idea of a Messiah who dies was totally unheard of and utterly alien to any Jewish tradition prior to the beginning of Christianity, but the idea of a Messiah who was crucified was not only bizarre, it was absurd. According to Jewish tradition, anyone who was "hanged on a tree" was to be considered accursed by Yahweh and this was one of the reasons crucifixion was considered particularly abhorrent to Jews. The concept of a crucified Messiah, therefore, was totally bizarre and absurd....
The accounts of Jesus' crucifixion in the gospels also show how awkward the nature of their Messiah's death was for the earliest Christians. They are all full of references to texts in the Old Testament as ways of demonstrating that, far from being an absurdity, this was what was supposed to happen to the Messiah. But none of the texts used were considered prophecies of the Messiah before Christianity came along and some of them are highly forced. The "suffering servant" passages in Isaiah 53 are pressed into service as "prophecies" of the crucifixion, since they depict a figure being falsely accused, rejected and given up to be "pierced .... as a guilt offering". But the gospels don't reference other parts of the same passage which don't fit their story at all, such as where it is said this figure will "prolong his days and look upon his offspring".
Clearly the gospel writers were going to some effort to find some kind of scriptural basis for this rather awkward death for their group's leader, one that let them maintain their belief that he was the Messiah. Again, this makes most sense if there was a historical Jesus and he was crucified, leaving his followers with this awkward problem. If there was no historical Jesus at all, it becomes very difficult to explain where this bizarre, unprecedented and awkwardly inconvenient element in the story comes from. It's hard to see why anyone would invent the idea of a crucified Messiah and create these problems. And given that there was no precedent for a crucified Messiah, it's almost impossible to see this idea evolving out of earlier Jewish traditions. The most logical explanation is that it's in the story, despite its vast awkwardness, because it happened.
And again, I'm not asking users to criticize or comment on the argument quoted above, I'm just looking for what source-criticism scholars have to say on the subject of how/when the doctrine of Jesus' death constituting Atonement originated.