The analogy of the payment of a price is employed in the New Testament to explain the death of Christ: "The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom [Gr. λύτρον] for many" (Mk 10.45). This saying of Christ is an allusion to the fourth Servant Song (Isaiah ch. 53; see suffering servant, songs of the). The word λύτρον means a payment for the release of a prisoner or a criminal (cf. Septuagint, Nm 35.31). A cognate notion is that of a bondsman, a role that Yahweh plays with respect to Israel (Ex 6.6; Hos 13.14), St. Paul uses this metaphor to remind the people that they do not belong to themselves but to God (1 Cor 6. 19–20; Acts 20.28). St. Peter writes: "You know that you were redeemed … not with perishable things, with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ …" (1 Pt 1.18).
The condition from which mankind is ransomed is spoken of as captivity to the law of sin (Rom 7.23), as slavery to the Law (Rom 7.1–6), as subjection to the power of darkness (Col 1.13) and to death (Col 2.13). These ideas have a resonance in St. John (Jn 12.31; 1 Jn3.8) and in Hebrews (2.14–15).
Man's ransom or Redemption has a positive aspect. "Jesus Christ … gave himself for us that he might redeem us from iniquity and cleanse for himself an acceptable people, pursuing good works" (Ti 2.14). This text alludes to the deliverance from Egypt and the covenant of Sinai. God freed His people from slavery that He might take them for his own and make them a holy people (Dt 7.6–11; cf. Jer 31.32–33). Similarly, by Christ's death man is acquired or purchased by Christ and becomes His own (1 Cor 7.22–24), but free. He is consecrated to God and made holy. His ransom from bondage terminates in union with God.
The concept of the saving work of Christ as a liberation achieved through ransom led some of the Fathers to picture the devil as the one to whom the ransom was paid. Satan had acquired legal rights over man and the blood of Christ had to be paid him as ransom. Although this theory was ridiculed by some, for example, by Adamantius as early as a. d. 300 (Dialogue 1.27; Patrologia Graeca 11:1756; Van de Sande Bakhuyzen, Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte 55), it was espoused by Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose and others and was popular through a good part of the Middle Ages.
Bibliography: s. lyonnet, "De notione redemptionis," Verbum Donini 36 (1958) 129–146; "De notione emptionis seu acquisitionis," ibid. 257–269; De peccato et redemptione, 4 v. (Rome 1957—). a. vÖgtle, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 6:1150–51.
[j. m. carmody]
Ransom ★★★ 1996 (R)
Tight and crafty thriller proves millionaire airline magnate Tom Mullen (Gibson) is a force to be reckoned with when son Sean (Nolte, son of actor Nick) is kidnapped. A vigilante Donald Trump (only gorgeous and brave), Mullen treats this like a highstakes business deal and decides to get his kid back by announcing on TV that the $2 million ransom demand will instead become a bounty on the kidnappers. Wife Kate (Russo), predictably flips out but Mullen, after a few encounters with the heinous abductors, has sized them up and is convinced he's done the right thing. Lindo is a bythebook fed with bad dialogue and Sinise is a bad cop playing for the other team. Gibson's emergency appendectomy delayed filming but he was soon leaping over cars for director Howard's wellstaged action scenes. Based on the 1956 flick starring Glenn Ford. 121m/C VHS, DVD . Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise, Delroy Lindo, Brawley Nolte, Lili Taylor, Liev Schreiber, Evan Handler, Dan Hedaya, Paul Guilfoyle, Jose Zuniga, Donnie Wahlberg, Michael Gaston, Nancy Ticotin; Cameos: Richard Price; D: Ron Howard; W: Richard Price, Alexander Ignon; C: Piotr Sobocinski; M: James Horner.
ran·som / ˈransəm/ • n. a sum of money or other payment demanded or paid for the release of a prisoner. ∎ the holding or freeing of a prisoner in return for payment of such money: the capture and ransom of the king.• v. [tr.] obtain the release of (a prisoner) by making a payment demanded: the lord was captured in war and had to be ransomed. ∎ hold (a prisoner) and demand payment for their release: mercenaries burned the village and ransomed the inhabitants. ∎ release (a prisoner) after receiving payment.PHRASES: hold someone/something at (or for) ransom hold someone prisoner and demand payment for their release. ∎ demand concessions from a person or organization by threatening damaging action.a king's ransom a huge amount of money; a fortune.
RANSOM (Heb. כֹּפֶר, kofer), the compensation required to avoid bodily punishment or to free one's self from an undesirable state or condition (Isa. 43:3). The term kofer is related to the Akkadian kapāru ("to wipe off ") or kuppuru ("to expiate"). The substitution of a penal sum for corporal punishment was widespread in the ancient world. Thus, the Hittite Code provides for fixed damages for bodily harm; and the Bedouin, too, allowed for ransom as an alternative to blood vengeance. Except in the case of murder (Num. 35:31–34), the Israelites followed this practice too, though fixed sums do not seem to have existed in early times. Instead the principle of "measure for measure" was employed (Ex. 21:36; Lev. 24:18), together with specific standards for determining the compensation (Ex. 21:19; 22:16). Later, set amounts were established (Deut. 22:29), such as the "redemption" fees for those consecrated to yhwh (Lev. 27). To be distinguished from kofer in the sense of "ransom," which is paid to an aggrieved party, is kofer in the sense of "bribe," which is paid to a judge in the hope of influencing his decision (i Sam. 12:3; Amos 5:12).
Pedersen, Israel, 1–2 (1926), 398–99; Pritchard, Texts, 189–90; E.A. Speiser, in: jbl, 182 (1963), 301–6.
[David L. Lieber]
So ransom vb. XIII. — OF. ransouner (mod. rançonner).