I got to go to a lecture by Rita Nakashima Brock yesterday. She was speaking on Saving Paradise. The short version, as I understand it, is that the principal motif of the early church was Paradise. Here. Now. Not a perfect place, a place where we still have to struggle with evil, but paradise none the less. Using the visual depictions of the early church as a starting point, she says that she and her coauthor went searching for the first crucifixion. The earliest surviving one is from between 900-1000. Examining both the early church fathers and early art, she found paradise as the chief motif. It was with Charlemagne that violence and death moved from sin to celebrated. The book is much too long, but worth the trudge through it, particularly if you are looking for a substitute for Anselm's bloody atonement theory.
So, the question is how do we shift the dominant theology of atonement?