Can one ever truly atone?

Today I taught my World Lit class The Book of Ruth. This story is in both the Old and New Testament. In the Old Testament, the word for atonement in Hebrew actually translates as "to placate." The word for atonement in the New Testament translates as "payment." So if we only placate people when we atone and we must make payment for our sins, can we ever truly atone?

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