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The term (literally, "at + one + ment") has been applied since the earliest English translations of the Bible to the sacrificial ceremonies in the Hebrew temple on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It has come to be applied universally to God's reconciling work accomplished by the death of Christ. This is supported by the treatment of Jesus' death in the epistle to the Hebrews as the fulfillment of the temple sacrifices. There is widespread agreement among contemporary theologians that God's reconciling work includes Christ's life as well as his death. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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