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Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION AND PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS
1.1 COMPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
1.2 THE MISSION OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
2.1 THE LAMB IN OLD TESTAMENT THEMES
2.2 THE LAMB IMAGERY IN EXTRA-BIBLICAL CONTEXTS
3.1 THE BAPTIST’S TESTIMONY
INTRODUCTION AND PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS
The Fourth Gospel’s logion ;Ide o' avmno.j tou/ Qeou/ o' ai;rwn th.n a'masrti,an tou/ ko,smou (“Behold, the Lamb of God, taking the sin of the world”) is one of the distinctive statements in the New Testament. Infact, nowhere else in the whole scripture is the phrase “Lamb of God” used apart from the Gospel of John (1:29, 36)1. The same Gospel has already bestowed upon Jesus a number of titles: the Word, the Light, the Messiah, the Lamb of God, the Son of God. Without undermining the other designations of Jesus, the unique place of the “Lamb of God” in our liturgies spurs us to inquire deeply into its theological meaning and spiritual relevance.
We are so used to hearing Jesus described this way that, perhaps, we have never stopped to think that it is quite a curious way to describe a man. Why should Jesus be called the Lamb of God (God’s lamb)? Are they the real words of the Baptist, a product of redaction or a later theological invention? What did it mean to the speaker and the listeners or the writer and the readers? What does it mean to us today as we echo same in our liturgies?
While in the context of our liturgies, we may understand the proclamation, “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” as the designating the “sacrificial offering” of Jesus for our redemption, Burke, however, observes that historical critics write this passage off, as they do much of John’s Gospel as later theological invention.2 We, therefore, lead a scriptural campaign to uncover the historical vestiges within this Gospel account in order to affirm the assertion(s) about the real meaning/referent of this statement, and its implication for our faith.
With a scholarly historical critical method of biblical exegesis, we shall place John the Baptist in a historical perspective of his own times and then explore his example and meaning for Christian spirituality today. Not just the content of his testimony but he is an epitome of effective witnessing to emulate. Hence, the movement of this work will proceed from scripture to history to theology and to spirituality.
We shall reach the goals of our research through a step by step presentation, beginning with a study of the background and composition of the Gospel of John. We shall also do a close analysis of scriptural themes portraying lamb imageries. Though our scope, i.e. Jn 1:29,36, involves a literary and critical analysis of scripture in context, we shall employ the principle of interpreting scripture by scripture, while observing the integrity of each scripture. At the end, we hope to arrive at a deepening of our faith through personal reflections on the outcome of our analysis.
1.1 COMPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
1.1.1 AUTHORSHIP AND SETTING
In his WBC commentary on the Gospel according to John, George R. Beasley- Murray observes that,
The last of the four Gospels appears among the rest in a manner reminiscent of the appearance of Melchizedek to Abraham: ‘without father, without mother without genealogy’ (Heb. 7:3). Everything we want to know about this book is uncertain and everything about it that is apparently knowable is matter of dispute. The Gospel is anonymous; argument about its traditional ascription to the apostle John has almost exhausted itself. We cannot be sure where it was written, or when.3
Culpepper opines that the authorial remarks in Jn. 21:24-25 testify to an extended process of composition and shaping of the Gospel within an early Christian community.4 The remarks move from ‘this disciple’ to ‘we’ and then to ‘I,’ yet the Gospel does not disclose the identity of its author and is therefore considered by scholars as originally anonymous. Hence, during the second century, the superscription Kara Irnavvqv5 was added.
A distinction between the internal evidence and external evidence is very pertinent as regards this authorship. The internal evidence mentions the beloved disciple6 whose exact identity remains unknown but became a recurrent figure in John’s story of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection (19:25-27,35; 20:1-10; 21:7,20-25). Kummel, however, argues that;
Now it is true that John 12:24, in connection with 21:20, gives the indication that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is the author of the Gospel. But if the twenty first chapter is an appendix of the Gospel by another hand, then in the indication in John 21:24 we are dealing only with the tradition from the circle of the evangelist himself. Besides, it is not possible to ascertain the identity of the man whom we meet in John 13:23; 19:26; and 20:2 under the designation of “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” so that even identification of the author with the “favorite disciple” should be a matter of a reliable report.”7
On the other hand, Tradition associates him with the disciple John, one of the sons of Zebedee. Johnson believes that “it is not unreasonable to identify the beloved disciple with John the son of Zebedee... who was a ‘pillar’ of the first Jerusalem Church.”8
The strongest external evidence in favour of the identification with John is the statement of Clement of Alexandria, preserved in Eusebius9 written about 180 CE; “Last of all John, perceiving that the external facts had been made plain in the Gospels, being urged by his friends and inspired by the Spirit, composed a spiritual gospel”. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, in the last quarter of the second century (AD 180), testifies that John the apostle wrote the gospel while living in Ephesus.10 This view was corroborated by the Muratorian Canon(AD 180 -200) while some early Church Fathers prior to Irenaeus including his contemporaries like Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna did not contribute to the argument on the authorship of the Fourth Gospel. According to Victorinus and Irenaeus, the Bishops of Asia Minor requested John, in his old age, to write a Gospel in response to Cerinthus, the Ebionites and other Jewish Christian groups which they deemed heretical.”11 This understanding remained in place until the end of the 18th century. The earliest manuscripts to contain the beginning of the gospel, dating from around the year 200, are entitled "The Gospel according to John".12
In the 1965 “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation” Vatican Council II, we read; “the Church has always and everywhere affirmed the apostolic origin of the four gospels.”13 This apostolic origin is widely accepted because they were in contact with eye witnesses and perhaps wrote their gospel with apostolic authority. We are persuaded to stand by this since “in Roman Catholic Theology, the tradition handed down by the Church regarding the authorship of biblical books is always respected”.14 Some scholars believe that the reason for identifying the beloved Disciple with the apostle John and consequently as the author of the Gospel became obvious as at the middle of the second century. By this time, apostolic origin was becoming an essential criterion for acceptance. Hence, this identification may have arisen simply as a means of claiming apostolic authorship for a work that was actually anonymous.15 Over and above all, the uncertainty of the authorship does not in anyway diminish the historical and theological significance of the Fourth Gospel.
There are different views concerning the date of John's Gospel. The traditional view places the writing of John around A.D. 85 or later. This view is mainly supported by a statement from Clement of Alexandria that John wrote to supplement the other Gospel accounts. This would place his writings later in the first-century, considering the traditional view that the other Gospel writers wrote before A.D. 70. Brown corroborates this view when he argues that;
For instance, Matthew and Luke are often dated to the period between 75 and 85. According to our hypothesis, John underwent several editions and a final redaction. We think it quite possible that the first edition of John is to be dated to the same general period as Matthew and Luke.16
“On the whole, we believe that the pre-critical judgment that John is the most theologically developed and the latest the Gospels is essentially sound.”17 This gives suspicion for a later date. In judging the attempt of various scholars to argue for an early date from comparative theology, Brown concludes that nothing is found in John that would demand a date before 70 for the final written form of the Gospel.18
Lastly, attention is given to John 5:2 where John uses "is" rather than "was" concerning the pool near the Sheep Gate. This may suggest a time before A D. 70 when Jerusalem “was” destroyed.
Although some notable New Testament scholars affirm traditional Johannine scholarship, the many critics do not believe that John or one of the Apostles wrote it, but rather, trace it to a Johannine community which traced its traditions to John. Hence, the gospel itself shows signs of having been composed in three layers, reaching its final form about 90-100 AD. Indeed, these evidences, “make the 90s the probable era”19 for the final written composition of the Gospel.
1.1.2 FORM AND STRUCTURE
The Gospel of John is renowned, according to Scott Hahn, for its mystical and theological depth, so much so that it was known in the early Church as the “spiritual Gospel”.20 It is manifestly Christocentric. It has a cyclic pattern, therefore, linear plot development is less important here than in the other Gospels. There is neither suspense nor surprise but only irony.21 Being “the most theologically rich and complex of the Gospels”.22 Barclay avers that “The John of the Fourth Gospel is the eagle of the New Testament thought”.23 Therefore, we need not doubt the words of Jerome who said that the author of the Fourth Gospel was “saturated with revelation”.24
The Twenty one chapters of John’s Gospel are divided into four major parts by various scholars: The Prologue (1:1-18) announces major themes of the story. The Prologue forms the entrance gate to the whole of John’s Gospel since it anticipates, summarizes and foreshadows some of the major themes of the Gospel, although some key elements of the Prologue - like Xoyo^ (Logos), x&PN (grace) and rc^npra^axo^ (fullness) - do not occur in the body of the Gospel. According to Culpepper, The Prologue, therefore, provides the lens through which or the perspective from which the reader views Jesus.25
Beasley-Murray observes that the central theme of the Prologue and of the Gospel as a whole is Jesus - who he is, whence he comes, what he has come to do, how and for what purpose. Hence, the domineering theological concern is Christology; all other theological concerns such as salvation, eschatology, church, world, Holy Spirit are aspects of the one great theme, and all are viewed in the light of the dualism that characterizes the Christology.26 The other three parts are: The Book of Signs (1:1921:50), the Book of Glory (13:1-20:31) and an Appendix (21:1-25)
1.1.3 PURPOSE AND AUDIENCE
A meaningful understanding of any piece of work requires the knowledge of the author’s intention and purpose of writing.27 Scholars believe that the Fourth Gospel was written as a reactionary posture against heresies such as Docetism or certain forms of Gnosticism. Others take the positive view that the purpose of John’s gospel is to confirm and secure Christians in faith. However, the author specifically states his purpose of writing in chapter 20:31. “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”28 George Mlakuzhyil, however, rejects any attempt to perceive the Gospel as a biography of Jesus following the above passage. He shows a twofold purpose of the Johannine Gospel namely Christological and Soteriological.29
These diverse views attests to Johnson’s claim that “it is doubtful that a composition as rich as this can be reduced to a single function”.30 Hence, Raymond Brown, on his own part holds that “The fourth Gospel addresses itself to the challenges posed by Judaism and by others outside the Johannine circles that have rejected the community’s vision about Jesus as the pre-existent son sent by the father”31. Thus, some have thought the Gospel to have primarily an apologetic function32, asserting the superiority of Jesus over John ( Jn. 1:6-8,15,19-28; 3:22-30; 5:35; 10:41) or demonstrating Jesus’ messianic credentials to Jewish unbelievers (Jn. 5:39-47; 7:2152; 10:31-38; 12:37-50).
The gospel of John seems likely that its audience was largely Gentile rather than Jewish, since it contains few Old Testament quotations or distinctly Jewish forms of expression. Wijngaard maintains that the gospel of John was definitely written to the Hellenists. The terminology it uses, its religious imaginary, its concern and interest presuppose a Hellenistic audience. The Gospel also shows a strong link with the Jewish tradition. It refers to Old Testament figure; it betrays a familiarity with rabbinical jargons and rabbinical theology; it reflects conflicts and controversy with orthodox Jews.”33
1.2 THE MISSION OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
Only the Gospel of Luke presents an account of the birth of John;34 with a direct parallel to the birth of Jesus. (1:5-80; 2:1-40). Uzowulu remarks that the author launches into a unique comparison of John the Baptist and Jesus that shows how both represent the fulfillment of the promises made by God.35 The element of prophecy is dominant in this Lucan infancy narrative as it is often the case with heroic figures in the Hebrew tradition. Consequent upon this, is the announcement of John’s mission to his father;
But the Angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God(Lk 1:1316).
In this prophecy, is foreshadowed the themes of joy and greatness. John is to be the holy one of God and filled with the Holy Spirit as typical of a prophet. He is to call Israel to repentance. The birth of John seems based on Old Testament models, like the birth stories of Isaac(Gen. 17:15-21), Samson (Judges 13:2-24) and Samuel (I Sam. 1:1-23). Burke observes that there seems to have developed a set pattern for these special birth narratives, for instance, (a) The barrenness of the mother is overcome by God, (b) God or an angel appears to announce and prophesy the birth of a son, (c) prophecies are given of the Child’s greatness and of what he will accomplish (d) the Child’s name and its etymology is generally given.36 However, the naming of John is distinct as it is bestowed directly by God. Again, the etymology of the name John, Yohanan in Hebrew, which means “God has shown favour” is not given in the text but implied.
Immediately after recording the Benedictus,37 St. Luke writes: “The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel”(1:80). Possibly God had called Zechariah and Elizabeth to himself when their son was 12 and John went into the desert to prepare for his vital mission.38 The Holy Spirit draws a veil over those years of desert experience, but we are justified in pausing to draw inspiration from two things - the intense faith which must have dominated John’s life to force him to leave the Temple, renounce his priesthood and live alone in austerity, and the prayer and penance to which he devoted himself.39
John’s emergence from the Palestinian desert (South-West of Jerusalem) after twenty years of life as a hermit was a startling event to the Jews of his day.40 The Greek noun avnadei,ksij which is here translated as “appeared publicly” embodies a dual meaning of “reveal” and “appoint”. It is announcing the commissioning by God of John the Baptist as Jesus’ forerunner after his spiritual schooling in the wilderness.41
Matthew highlights the fact that John appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”( 3:1-2). The call to repentance is John’s most distinctive characteristic. It was the particular note that the angel Gabriel predicted for him to his father, Zechariah: “He will turn42 many people of Israel to the Lord”(Lk 1: 16). With his tone of imminent judgment and apocalyptic urgency, John appears as the eschatological prophet. John predicts with three imageries, the eschatological crisis that Jesus’ coming will create; “Vipers fleeing from a wilderness fire, the felling of trees in the forest and throwing them into the fire, the winnowing process of separating the wheat from the chaff and throwing the chaff into the fire.”43 But John’s preaching was not without its positive note of hope, for the forerunner foretold the advent of the messiah who apart from being the agent of judgment, ‘will also baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire’(Lk 3:11).
Another key role of John’s preaching is ‘to make ready a people prepared for the Lord’. His major task here is to draw the people to the consciousness of personal responsibility and away from complacency which resulted from their old notion of inherited privilege in having ‘Abraham as their ancestor’(Cf. Mt 3:8). Beyond the general massage of repentance, “It is important to recognize that John is a radical reformer.”44 He is demanding a complete turning away from sin and from the past. He is abandoning Temple and Torah for a new route to salvation, and that route, that path which John is making straight, is a new highway to Christ. Zechariah had prophesied this, “You will go before the Lord to prepare his ways/to give knowledge of salvation to his people”(Lk 1:76-77).
We observe that John is preaching primarily to the despised sinners of Hebrew society. His audience is heterogeneous, comprising of the indifferent wealthy, the greedy tax collectors, the extortionist soldiers (Mt. 3:10-14) and the ubiquituous prostitutes(Mt. 21:31-32). His message was profound, hence according to the second century historian Josephus, his message drew everybody “for they were aroused to the highest degree by his sermons”45
The priests and Levites sent by the Pharisees in John 1:25 did not only ask him, “Why are you baptizing if you are neither the Messsiah, nor Elijah nor the prophet?” They attempted probing his identity with the question, “What do you say about yourself?” John describes himself as ‘the voice’ directing people to Jesus. He identifies himself as “the voice crying out in the wilderness, ‘make ready the way of the Lord’”(Isa 40:3). Infact, Uzowulu, remarks that in each account he is identified as a person fulfilling the words of Isa 40:3 and so runs the generic picture of John the Baptist in the canonical Gospels.46 It would not have been in John’s nature to identify himself with such a great figure of the Jewish tradition as Elijah.47 However, Justin later explains that “the spirit of God who was in Elijah preceded as herald in John, a prophet among your nation; after whom no other prophet appeared among you”48 He is a prophet, but not the prophet like Moses of the Jewish tradition. Jesus himself testifies that John is a prophet and “more than a prophet”(Mt 11:9), because he is the precursor of Christ. It is apparent then, that “the Baptist as forerunner in the synoptics takes on the role of Elijah, but in the fourth Gospel, he is the humble witness.”49 Jesus further testifies to John’s greatness when he said, “of all men born of women, there is none greater than John the Baptist”(Mt. 11:11). Yet, upon his greatness, there is a figure whose sandal thong he is unworthy to untie. John was such an important figure with great following which for a time paralleled Jesus’ own (Jn 1:19; 3:22-26; 4:1). John is truly was “a man sent from God”(Jn 1:6), yet the evangelist is consistent in showing that humility is crucial both for the ‘precursor and for the follower of Christ.
Hence, the Baptist admits, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30). These words stand as the epitaph, the epitome and a special highlight of John as a witness.
He is announced by the heavenly messenger as the Messiah’s herald, he is to give testimony to the light, to be a witness, to give evidence. He came that all may believe in Jesus the light of the world(Jn 1:7). The Greek here uses the reflexive pronoun, auvto,j, himself, to emphasize that it is through John himself that all come to believe. “The radical newness of the message of John shows that he participated in and initiated that mission which Jesus appropriated: “But the testimony I have is greater than that of John” (Jn. 5:36). It seems legitimate to assume that John the Baptist must have been the greatest preacher of all time, next to Christ himself. He is the gateway to the gospels and the first to proclaim the goodnews of salvation. Luke’s parallelism50 shows that John is a co-participant in the work of salvation. Bornkamm speaks of the Baptist as the one who stands guard at the frontier, he proclaims that it is the eleventh hour before the coming of the great day - but Jesus proclaims that it is the twelfth hour.51 However, Luke clearly separates John from Jesus, to make him a figure solely in the period of Israel;
In depicting John imprisoned by Herod even before the baptism of Jesus takes place, Luke has in effect finished off the story of John’s ministry and removed him from the scene before the ministry of Jesus itself begins.52
Invariably, he is the last of prophets (a figure rooted in the Second Temple Judaism) but also the first of the Christians, the first saint and martyr of Christianity.
John’s baptism was to fulfill all righteousness (Mt. 3:15). This means to fulfill the will of the Father who “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”(2 Cor. 5:21). So, when the Evangelist witnesses to the fact that Jesus is “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”(1:29), he makes it clear that John’s baptism is no longer needed for the forgiveness of sins, and he creates a contrast between John who came baptizing with water (1:26) and Jesus “who baptizes with the Holy Spirit”(1:33).
UNDERSTANDING THE SYMBOLISM OF THE LAMB
A literal understanding of the word “lamb” is that of a domestic animal. It is a young sheep. It is naturally characterized by gentleness, obedience, docility. It shows no claws or teeth in the face of attack. It is not characterized by strength or robustness. If is made to suffer, it is submissive even to the point of death.
2.1 THE LAMB IN OLD TESTAMENT THEMES
Sheep are accorded a larger share of attention in the bible than any other animal and their names - ewe, lamb, ram sheep and flock - are found seven hundred and forty- two times, in seven hundred and three verses, which exceed one forty-fourth of the whole verses.53 The reason for this fact is that sheep were bound up with domestic, civil and religious life of the people. Yet, even so, such frequent reference to them would seem incredible except for the light which the New testament throws upon the Old Testament and the many allusions to the coming of the Messiah under the figure of the lamb that takes away the sin of the world.54
2.1.1 THE PASSOVER LAMB
The origin of Passover relates back to over 3,000 years ago, when Jacob a Hebrew, came to Egypt with his twelve sons because of famine in Canaan. However, the post of viceroy over Egypt and the manager of Egypt’s grain stores already held by one of his sons, Joseph, gave them an advantage. Many years later, Jacob and his sons died but their heirs never went back to their land. Their rapidly growing population, in the eyes of the Egyptians, posed a threat to the empire. To keep them subjugated, Pharaoh enslaved the entire Hebrew population. The population of the Hebrews, however, could not still be kept under check. So the Pharaoh ordered his men to throw all new born Hebrew boys into the waters of the Nile. Moses, born at this turbulent time, rescued and nurtured by one of Pharaoh’s daughters, became God’s instrument of deliverance to the Hebrews. He delivered God’s demand to Pharaoh; that the Israelites should be allowed to leave Egypt in 3 days. Pharaoh refused to read the signs that followed. His refusal brought to the land of Egypt the famous ten plagues (Ex.7-12). The tenth resulted in the death of the firstborn of every Egyptian family and livestock too. But under instructions from Moses, the Israelites marked the door posts of their dwellings with the blood of a spring lamb, so that God could identify them easily and spare their families and Pass over their houses. Let us read the account from Exodus 12:21-23:
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the Lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two door posts, the Lord will Passover that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down.
The festival of Passover commemorates this sparing of Jewish lives and subsequent rescue of the Jewish race from captivity. With its Hebrew term pesach, for Israel, “‘To pass over’ means ‘to spare, protect, deliver.”55 Conversely, the Israelite Passover never had any expiatory purpose.56
This was not just to be a one off event but an enduring ceremony, hence, “from the time of the exodus onward, the Passover sacrifice was to be celebrated in commemoration of the liberation from Egypt.”57 This command is stated as “You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children”(Ex. 12:24). “Here, the emphasis is principally on the blood rite.”58 In many ways, it was the Exodus and all the events associated with it, that transformed the Israelites into a people, a nation - the people of God. So, this great deliverance remained in the minds of the Jewish people, and throughout the OT there are references to it. This was important because it guaranteed the transmission of the imagery and its significance into the Christian tradition.
2.1.2 THE LAMB THAT IS LED TO THE SLAUGHTER
There are four “servant songs” within the text of Second Isaiah (Isa. 42:1-17; 49:113; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12.). Traditionally, the “servant” of the servant songs has been identified in numerous ways. These range from historical individuals to the community itself, to a specific group or ‘remnant’ within the community.59 He has been identified with Moses, with Jeremiah and even with second Isaiah himself. The collective interpretation identifies the servant of Yahweh with Israel herself, who through her suffering in the exile became a herald of God’s justice to the nations.60 Scullion corroborates this collective interpretation when he opines that “the servant was God’s instrument through whom he acted to bring salvation to many; the sufferings that the servant, Israel, bore are the means by which Israel will be vindicated by Yahweh who will reward him.”61
Admittedly, the Jewish nation having suffered in exile is expectant of a messiah. Isaiah prophesies to them about a messiah who is to come. Unlike the Jewish messianic expectation which did not have a category for a messiah who suffered, Isaiah’s messianic reference is on the contrary. Isaiah prophesied of a messiah who would be the suffering servant of Yahweh as portrayed in the four songs of the servant. In these songs, we are specifically drawn to the metaphor of the lamb, the primary animal involved in Jewish sacrifice. The text reads “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.. ,”(Isa. 53:7-12). Here, the servant is described as if he were an expiatory sacrifice or a guiltoffering.62 But surely the servant is a vicarious sufferer.63
2.1.3 THE GUILT OFERRING
In the OT times, the guilt offering typically followed a pattem involving the following elements: An unblemished animal, signifying moral perfection, was presented at the door of the sanctuary by the offerer. The offerers placed their hands on the animal’s head, denoting identification with the victim and transfer of sin’s penalty to the substitute. The animal, then, was slain, signifying death as a requisite punishment for sin. The priest sprinkled the blood of the victim on the altar, the blood representing the life of the victim(Leviticus 17:11), and The offering, in part or in whole, was burned on the altar of burnt offering, its fragrance ascending to God as a pleasing aroma.
There are actually a number of kinds of guilt offering depending on whether the trespass was against God or man, voluntary or involuntary, the exact nature of the trespass and whether or not financial compensation was appropriate. However, in all cases scripture indicates that the purpose of these sacrifices was “to make atonement” and provide forgiveness for the offerer. “The word for ‘offering for sin’ ’asham means properly ‘guilt-offering’.64 For instance, Leviticus 1:4 says “You shall lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be acceptable in your behalf as atonement for you.” Hence, the making of a guilt offering always implied an admitted guilt on the part of the person making the offering.
The verb kapar, meaning “atonement,” is used in the numerous texts that refer to the guilt offering (Lev. 1:4,4:20,26, 31,35;5:13,16;6:7; Num 5:8; 8:12; 15:25 ; 6:11-12; etc) and altogether is used more than 100 times in the OT in sacrificial contexts where the meaning is clearly to propitiate God’s wrath, expiate sins and restore fellowship between God and sinners. The description of the procedure for the guilt offering indicates that sin places a person in debt. The worshipper might feel very much deprived when he had paid for a choice lamb to be sacrificed. But it reminded him that the animal was a ransom, a substitute payment instead of his own life. Forgiveness of sin always required a costly payment in blood.
We often think of the Jewish guilt offering as being a ram, just as was customary. But a lamb was an acceptable substitute (Lev. 4:32) and on certain occasions, it was prescribed that a male lamb should be sacrificed: “But if he is poor and cannot afford so much, he shall take one male lamb for a guilt offering to be elevated, to make atonement on his behalf, and one tenth of an ephah of the choice flour mixed with oil for a grain offering and a log of oil”(Lev. 14:21). Conceived precisely as a sacrifice which takes away sin, the guilt offering depicts a similar role to that of the suffering servant.
2.1.4 THE SCAPEGOAT
The Jewish ceremony involving the scapegoat takes place once a year on the day of atonement.65 The detailed regulation for this day are set out in Leviticus chapter 16. The annual day of atonement, Yom hakippurim, (Lev. 23:27;25:9) was the most important cultic celebration in the OT. In preparation for this solemn event the high priest had to dress in special garments which were much less flamboyant than the normal high priestly robes (Lev. 16:3-4). On the day of atonement, he looked much more like a slave. He was also required to sacrifice a young bull as a sin-offering and a ram for a burnt offering to atone for his own sins and those of his household (Lev. 16:11-14). He sprinkled the blood of the bull on the front of the golden lid of the ark designated the “atonement cover” or “mercy seat” - kaporet, meaning “place of atonement” (Cf. Ex. 25:17). This is a unique feature of the day of atonement ceremony as it is the only time that blood was brought into the holy of holies. The blood on the mercy seat indicated that Israel’s sins were atoned for by a substitutionary death.
By laying his hands on the head of the second goat (the “scapegoat”) and confessing all the sins of the whole community, the High Priest symbolically transfers guilt from all the people to the victim. This goat became a sin bearer as it carried the sins and iniquities of the people to a place of no return.66 The scapegoat was to go away with burden into “a land not inhabited” or “land of separation,” a “wilderness,” a place in which it might be lost sight of and from which it could not possibly return to bring back the sins to the Israelites. Indeed, according to the Jewish tradition, the goat was thrown over a cliff to make absolutely sure it could not return. The sins being confessed were such as may not have been atoned for by the usual sacrifices, and they are summed up as “iniquities” and “transgressions” and “sins” (Lev.16:21).
The day of atonement ritual dramatically depicted the holiness of God, the gravity of sin, and God’s gracious provision by vicarious sacrifice. The gravity of sin is well illustrated by the fate of the two goats - on the one, immediate death; on the other, first separation from God and then ultimate death.
2.1.5 THE DAILY SACRIFICES
A critical part of communal life and worship under the Mosaic system was the lamb offered daily for ritual sacrifice in the temple.67 This practice eventually became known as the Tamid - the Hebrew term meaning “regularly” or “continually.” Every morning and evening a lamb was offered in sacrifice as a burnt offering on the altar of the temple. The details for this burnt offering are outlined in Exodus 29:38-42.
Thus the evening sacrifice was “burning upon the altar all night up to the morning.” This was the daily sacrifice of a lamb for the whole congregation. That evening sacrifice was then followed by a corresponding morning sacrifice. This, together with occasional sacrifices, which were offered throughout the day, would keep the altar fully occupied until evening. These offerings and the fire continually burning ensured that a constant “remembrance of sins” was maintained day by day, the year round, and “year by year continually.” The repetition of the sacrifices showed that they could never take away sins. However, as with other cultic sacrifice in the OT, this was a way for the community of YHWH to gain access to him. Hence, Walter Brueggemann observes that this ritual is “the process whereby holiness is created in the community, holiness that authorizes and qualifies a few, select persons to go to the very core of God’s holiness on behalf of the people”68
2.1.6 THE GENTLE LAMB
In the context of Jeremiah, the reference to a gentle lamb is connected figuratively to the threats against the life of the vulnerable prophet, Jeremiah. The text reads, “But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. And I did not know that it was against me that they devised schemes saying, ‘Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will no longer be remembered!’” (Jer. 11:19). Patrick D. Miller, explains that the prophet’s lack of awareness of the plots against him is here underscored as he depicts himself as an innocent lamb led to the slaughter, going about his business quite unaware that the butchers are ready to cut his throat.69 The idea being communicated through the “gentle lamb” is one of unsuspecting innocence and meekness. Perhaps, it is clear that Jeremiah, unlike the picture of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 as a lamb led to the slaughter, does not associate this imagery with taking away sins, since gentleness and innocence are not the same as expiation or atonement.
2.1.7 THE LAMB THAT GOD PROVIDED FOR ABRAHAM
The study of Genesis 22:1-14 reveals that God commands Abraham not to kill his son or murder his son, but to present him “on the altar” as a burnt offering to God. The offering language places this entire episode within the context of the sacrificial system.70 The true sacrifice is actually seen in Abraham’s act of faith, by giving to God what he loves. A sacrifice seems necessary, if not Isaac, then another, hence, God provided the ram, and Abraham offered it “instead of his son.” This passage has come to be known as the “binding of Isaac” or Aqedat Yitshag.
This story a metaphor for Israel’s life with God, Israel becomes Isaac. The redemption of the firstborn remains as a concern in this text(Ex 13:13; 22:29;34:20). Again, Israel, God’s first born(Ex 4:22), had been sentenced to death by God in the fires of judgment. But Exilic Israel remains God’s first born(so Jeremiah affirms, 3:19), the carrier of God’s purposes into the future./As Isaac was saved from death, so was Israel delivered from the brink of annihilation. Out of this matrix the Israelites developed an understanding that a sacrifice was necessary to assure Israel’s future, shaped most profoundly in Isaiah 53, v.7; vv. 7-8; cf. Jer. 11:19). Israel’s redemption would not occur without cost.71
2.1.8 THE LAMB OF THE APOCALYPSE
There is a consistent use of lamb imagery in the book of Revelation. The lamb and most especially a horned lamb, was used as a symbol of a leader, a triumphant conqueror. “Despite the fact the fact that the voice cries out that no one is able to break the seals and open the book, John sees who will do just that, a lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered”72 The triumphant lamb of Revelation is a lamb that returns from death, receiving worship in the forms of “power and wealth and wisdom, might and honour and blessing and glory” (Rev. 5:6-14). He is a powerful figure who exercises wrath and who strikes fear in those with whom he comes into contact (Rev. 6:15-17). In a strange mixing of metaphors, the lamb is also described as the shepherd of God’s people (Rev. 7:17). He even stands triumph upon Mt. Zion (Rev. 14:1). The Lamb also overcomes in the midst of opposition(Rev. 17:14) and ultimately establishes his enduring reign upon the earth as the representative of God. Thus,
The apocalyptic background should remind us not to play down the element of power and messianic upheaval attached to the figure by concentrating on notions of suffering and powerlessness. Revelation is a text of messianism, and whatever its idiosyncrasies, it is in tune with much else in NT soteriology.73
Perhaps the reason for choosing a lamb for this role was precisely because it is the last animal which might be suspected of signifying military conquest.
2.2 THE LAMB IMAGERY IN EXTRA-BIBLICAL CONTEXTS
2.2.1 THE APOCRYPHA
In many intertestamental texts, the lamb is mostly understood to be a figure for people. “The devout of God are like innocent lambs among them [the nations]”(Psalm of Solomon 8:23).74 Out of many created cattle, the Lord chose for himself a single sheep, which is Israel”(2 Esdr 5:26).75 Israel is like skipping lambs in the wilderness (Cf. Wis. 19:9). However, the most vivid sheep metaphor which is used in the Mishna, is a deliverer.76
From Greek and Latin sources, it is clear that much of the Mediterranean world was affected by pastoral life. Sheep were widely raised, slaughtered for food, and offered as sacrifices. Consequently, sheep were significant for people, especially people needing a guide or those characterized by laziness and stupidity. In Mesopotamian literature the sheep motif is one of the earliest metaphors recorded.77 We see here the lamb motif as multifaceted: Sheep can represent people or a deliverer; sheep can suggest weakness/helplessness, patience/submissiveness, deliverance, and atoning sacrifice. Clear distinctions cannot be made between sheep, ram and lamb in this symbolism, for lamb can symbolize each of these concepts.
2.2.2 THE OLD TESTAMENT PSEUDEPIGRAPHA
Enoch has a zoomorphic vision in which individuals appear in the guise of various animals - for example, David is pictured as a lamb that became a ram and ruled the sheep, that is, making him a judge and leader of the people (I Enoch 89:46).78 This history of the conflicts and occasional success of the sheep against the wild animals is clearly a history of the Jews in their conflict with the gentiles. Many times, the lions, leopards and wolves attack the sheep and devour them. But the sheep are not always easy prey. When the Lord intervenes and raises up a ram to lead the sheep, the sheep becomes victorious over all wild beasts in the land(1 Enoch 89:41-50).79 More than a history of the Jews, however, this vision is a form of prophecy characteristic of apocalyptic, often called rewritten history. The portion of this vision that summarizes the Maccabean conflict with the Seleucids pictures ravens smashing and eating the sheep until one lamb grows a large horn and is able to defend himself against the ravens (1 Enoch 90:12, 19).80
The lamb in the vision that grew a great horn and prevailed over the Seleucids clearly represents Judas Maccabeus for the Jewish nation that had suffered for centuries without a political or religious hero, Judas was quickly accepted by many as the fulfillment of God’s promises to send a deliverer. Though he met a premature death, he became representative for the Jews of a national salvation. The link here between the lamb metaphor and the Jewish deliverer is a significant development of the second temple period, especially in the light of the predictive intent of this rewritten history. But it must be noted that it is not a new idea that a sheep can be a leader and even a conqueror. We observe in Ezekiel 34 and Daniel 8 that a ram is a symbol of power. The tendency to move from ram to lamb - the lamb grows a horn, a symbol of power - is a significant shift in this developing motif. In a vision, the lamb continues to be a metaphor for conquerors;
And I saw that a virgin was born from Judah, wearing a linen stole; and from her was born a spotless lamb. At his left there was something like a lion, and all the wild animals rushed against him, but the lamb conquered them, and destroyed them, trampling them underfoot (Testament of Joseph 19:8)81
This passage from the pseudepigrapha demonstrate imagery rooted in Daniel and Ezekiel’s prophecies but developed in the second temple period: A lamb prevails over other animals; the victory of the lamb deserves a large celebration; the lamb is predictive of a future event in the last days; and the lamb represents the deliverer of the Jews.
EXEGETICAL ANALYSIS OF JOHN 1:29, 36
3.1 THE BAPTIST’S TESTIMONY
The prologue of John condenses into a brief summary what the whole Gospel is to elaborate in an evolving manner. Jesus is introduced in a kind of an overture. This is realized either by the testimonies of others or through his own signs. The first testimony is that of John the Baptist. Let us read the prelude to this testimony:
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing (Jn. 1:19-28).
John preached and baptized. The Jews from Jerusalem, that is, the avowed representatives of the religion of the prophecies and promises, sent him emissaries to hear from his own mouth the significance attributed to his behaviour. What did they expect? Probably, a fiery political reformer or a military conquer. Since John denied he was the Messiah, they asked if he were Elijah, thinking of Malachi’s words: “Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents”(4:5-6a). John, however, reminds them of Isaiah’s words, “I am a voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord” (Jn. 1:23); thereby, establishing his role as the precursor. In the face of his continued denials, the envoys of the Pharisees try to oppose his behaviour to his words by asking why he is baptizing, since he is not any of the figures they expected.
What then does his baptism signify if he be neither the Messiah nor the prophet? According to Louis Bouyer, “he is infact the precursor, and his sterile baptism, since it shows the need for the fullness of the spirit, is the sign of his mission.”82 But the one he precedes is “he who stands among his people, and whom they know not.” These initial words about Jesus are still indirect; the direct ones come immediately.
3.1.1 BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD
The title “Lamb of God,” applied to Jesus, is one of the special features of John’s Gospel. This phrase appears only twice, in John’s Gospel (1:29, 36), throughout the whole scriptures. However, it admits of several interpretations, complementary though distinct and connected with different images in the OT, NT and extra-biblical texts. The ‘Lamb of God’ reference is indeed very complex and perplexing owing to the contentions that abound as to the origin and background of the phrase. A little philological investigation will relate to us an idea about the origin of the phrase. The Greek text of the Gospel reads ho amnos tou Theou = o' avmno.j tou/ Qeou/ (“the Lamb of God”). This is “evidently an uncommon phrase in Greek except for the single word avmno.j found in the LXX.”83 It was suggested by C. J. Ball that avmno.j here is a mistranslation of the Aramaic ay'l.j;, taken in the sense of the Hebrew hl,j'. hl,j' means ‘lamb’; but ay'l.j; in Aramaic corresponds to the Greek pai,j, both in the sense of ‘boy’ and in that of ‘servant.’84 Adopting this suggestion, C. F. Burney argues that the expression o' avmno.j tou/ Qeou/ represents an Aramaic original ahlad aylj, intended as the equivalent of the Isaianic phrase hwhy db[, ‘the Servant of the Lord’ Zimmerli and Jeremias suggest that if the form of Aram ay'l.j; could be rendered with the Greek word avmno.j then the equivalence is supported.86 However, the Servant of Isaiah is known in Hebrew as the hwhy db[ (Aram. aD'b.[;); there is no absolute evidence of ay'l.j; (Heb. hl,j') being used for the Servant. Nor, it may be added, is hl,j' ever rendered by avmno.j in LXX. This theory of Aramaic original, though, attractive as it is, has no sufficient ground to stand on.88.
Nevertheless, in the retrospective view of early Christians, Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering servant (53:7-12) became a forecast of the dark climax to Jesus’ ministry.89 Given Jesus’ atoning death, the title seems very appropriate. There is some evidence that as early as the New Testament period, the text of Isaiah 53 was thought to be a valid prophecy of Jesus’ substitutionary death. In Acts 8, Philip encounters an Ethiopian eunuch who is trying without success to understand the scriptures. Isaiah 53:7 is the particular verse which puzzles him and he asks Philip to explain it to him. The text says, “Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture [i.e. Isaiah 53:7], he preached to him the goodnews about Jesus” (v.35)
We do know that the early Christians believed that the coming of the Messiah was foretold by the OT prophets and also believed that the Messiah must suffer - Jesus himself said this (Mt 16:21; Mt 17:12; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:22; Lk 17:25). Beasley- Murray suggests that if John is dependent on Christian thinking, it is most likely natural to suppose that the whole title is based on the Christian application of the poem of the suffering servant; verse 7, “like a lamb (LXX avmno.j) that is led to the slaughter; and verse 11, “he shall bear their iniquities.”90
A further analysis of Isaiah 53 raises more doubts, whether Isaiah’s reference to a lamb in the context of the servant songs is the correct background for the Lamb of God affirmation. First of all, Isaiah is apparently not designating the servant as a sacrificial lamb, for “he does not use the common terms for sheep associated with sacrifice.”91 The text of Isaiah 53, therefore, does not provide an intersection of the metaphor of a lamb with a sacrificial animal or sin-offering. Dodd notes this,
It was ‘the blood of bulls and goats’ that was believed to take away sin, and it was the ‘scapegoat’ that carried away the sin of Israel into the wilderness. But waiving this point, it seems unlikely that the evangelist should have introduced in this allusive way a reference to an idea which does not appear in his gospel, that of the death of Christ as an expiatory sacrifice.92
“The lamb of Isaiah 53, then, is an animal that is silently submissive when it is killed.”93 Although “lamb” is a meaningful simile for “servant,” the comparison here is in the context of the servant’s demeanor (silence) when harshly treated.
This does not deny the vicarious emphasis of this messianic song. The idea of guiltoffering is clearly present in the passage(Is. 53:10), and the reference to a lamb in v.7 cannot be completely divorced from the wider sacrificial context.94 Significantly, the song concludes with the victory of the servant (v.12), yet “that conclusion does not include the lamb motif.”95 Obviously, Isaiah does not link the servant to a sacrificial lamb. Hence, we reject it as the primary notion behind the Fourth Gospel’s “Lamb of God.”
What is essential for a proper perspective on the Lamb of God statement is the variety of concepts that the lamb symbolized in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Jewish understanding of Lamb imagery was not limited to Isaiah 53 because “this does draw attention to the difficulty of the use of lamb rather than servant, if this poem alone lies behind the title.”96
In this case, we discover that another symbol was already current for the death of Christ, the Passover Lamb. Barret argues that the Paschal Lamb is a real lamb, while in the suffering servant interpretation “lamb” is only an isolated and incidental element in the description of the servant’s death.97 Although the Passover was not technically an expiatory sacrifice, the exodus which it celebrated was interpreted in terms of deliverance from the power of sin in Christian thought.98 This is clear in John’s account of the crucifixion where he seems to put the death of Christ at the same time the Passover lambs were being slain in the Temple. “He [Jesus] entered Jerusalem on the sunday before the Passover - that very day the Passover lambs were driven into that city - and was crucified around the time the Passover lambs were slaughtered in the temple.”99
This clearly identifies Christ’s death with the Passover sacrifice, and Paul takes this up in I Cor. 5:7b: “For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.” While Jesus was on the cross, a sponge full of wine was raised up to him on hyssop (Jn. 19:29); and it was also with hyssop that the blood of the paschal lamb was to be smeared on the doorposts of the Israelites (Ex. 12:22). John 19:36 sees a fulfillment of the scripture in the fact that none of Jesus’ bones was broken, in relation to Ex. 12:46 which instructs that no bone of the paschal lamb should be broken.100
Some scholars reject the Passover imagery for different reasons. First, their objection is that the Passover victim was not always a lamb, and therefore an explicit identification with the Passover sacrifice would not necessarily have followed from the reference.101 The text itself reads, “You may take it from the sheep or the goats” (Ex. 12:5) and “the Greek Pentateuch normally speaks of the paschal victim as proba,twn, not as avmno.j.”102 However, these two words are apparently synonymous as seen in Isa 53:7, the suffering servant passage, where proba,twn (“sheep”) and avmno.j (“lamb”) are in parallelism.103 Also, “the first century Jews spoke of the Passover sacrifice simply as ‘the Passover”104. Again, the description of the avmno.j in I Pet 1:18-19 as unblemished and spotless recalls Ex. 12:5 where any victim without imperfection is specified for Passover. Therefore, the difference in vocabulary does not invalidate the Passover imagery.
Another objection is that the Passover was not expressly an expiatory sacrifice - that it was not a sacrifice to take away or atone for sin - while John says that the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world.105 We reject this objection because all sacrifices involving blood were understood by the Jews to be atoning. Lev. 17:11 makes this clear: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar, it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life”. Dodd admits that “although there may have been an expiatory element in the primitive rite underlying the Passover, no such idea was connected with it in historical times.”106 For Morris, this is not insurmountable though, since there seems to be strong evidence that all the sacrifices were held to be expiatory in some way by the close of the Old Testament period.107
With all these factors considered, the paschal interpretation becomes a stronger contender for the place of a primary image behind the “Lamb of God”. However, Beasley-Murray attempts a synthesis of the above two imageries when he observes that “the title [lamb of God] is based on Isaiah 53, interpreted in the light of the Passover sacrifice.”108 From our analysis, it does seem that common to both views is the theology of sacrifice, and consequently, atonement. This theological link is also shared, however subtly, by the other OT and the apocalyptic imageries.
For instance, the Tamid identification of the “lamb” presents us with the concept of perfection; a sacrificial lamb with a vicarious act providing access to God (Cf. Ex.29:38-42). Equally, the cross of Christ is presented throughout the New Testament as a sacrifice for sins “motivated by a desire to unite mankind to God.”109 Hoskyns makes this theological correlation very compelling in his explanation:
The faith of the apostles is authorized by the original and primary witness of John, who declares Jesus to be the property of God, by whose complete obedience the normal sacrifices in the temple - a lamb without blemish was offered daily both morning and evening (Ex. 29:38 -46).The place of sacrifice is the place where the glory and grace of God is made known (Ex. 29:43). The obedience of the Son is therefore the place where the guilt of sin is taken away, and since his obedience is an ultimate obedience its consequence are universal.110
In a different context - Yom hakippurim - the imagery of the scapegoat also lends credence to the substitutionary role of the Lamb of God in John’s Gospel.
In Aqedah of genesis 22, a sacrificial animal is provided as a substitute for Isaac. The ram provided by God is said to symbolize Jesus inasmuch as He is the sacrificial provision of God.111 Though there is no strong tie to the idea of removal of sin because the purpose of providing a substitute was to spare Isaac while testing Abraham’s faith, we recognize a possible focus upon the substitutionary aspects of the event and of Jesus’ death - He died ‘instead’ of sinners.
The apocalyptic idea is that of a triumphant lamb. This imagery certainly contains a sacrificial element, and alluded to Christ’s death. Beasley-Murray observes that there may be some connection between the atoning character of the Passover lamb and the picture of the Apocalyptic lamb ‘.. .as though it had been slain of Rev. 5:6.’112 The book of Revelation highlights this notion picturing the slain Lamb surrounded by angels, the “living creatures,” and elders, who cried out, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honour and glory and praise” (Rev. 5:12). This conjures the images both of a victim and victor.
Of the views offered to interpret the “Lamb of God”, the “gentle lamb” is the one that appears to have the least amount of correspondence. Bernard argues that “the thought of gentleness of a lamb is insufficient to explain the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”113 The “gentle lamb” of Jeremiah can only find a symbolic correspondence from a confessional standpoint. Hence, Marshall suggests that this view may have won a hearing among some scholars because the description so closely resembles the gentle lamb of Isaiah 53:7 which is “silent before its shearers”114 The memorial of guilt is intentionally tied to the removal of sin, which the Baptist’s lamb is to be said to provide.
3.1.2 WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD
A proper lexical and conceptual analysis of John 1:29 will demand the division of this qualifying clause into two. First, there is the question as to the precise meaning of the adjectival participle who takes away.
ai;rein (“takes away”) occurs in LXX of I Sam. 15:25, 25:28, in the sense of pardoning sin or removing guilt.115 The LXX uses both ai;rein and ferei,n (to carry, lift up, bear) to translate the Hebrew af'N' in Isaiah 53:4,12 where the servant is said to “lift, bear up, carry” the sins of many.116 Nevertheless, this reference cannot be used to prove that the Lamb is the suffering servant, as it is sometimes done, afterall, the early Christians would scarcely draw a sharp distinction as to whether in his death Jesus took away sin or took it on himself.117 However. Dodd argues that it is illegitimate to understand ai;rein a'marti,an as to ‘bear sin’ implying an interpretation of the death of Christ as a piacular sacrifice.118 On the whole, the Septuagint usage “often signify the removal not of evil simply but of guilt”119
On the other hand, R. Brown distinguishes between the phrase “takes away sin” in Jn. 1:29 and “take away sins” in I Jn. 3:5. He observes that the singular refers to a sinful condition while the plural refers to sinful acts.120 The former fits in well with what we know of the Baptist’s eschatological preaching. The messiah is to destroy evil in the world, and remove from his kingdom both the sinner and their sinful deeds. Thus, on the literal level we would suggest that “John the Baptist hailed Jesus as the Lamb of the Jewish apocalyptic expectation who was to be raised up by God to destroy evil in the world, a picture not too far from that of Rev. 17:14.121 “To make an end to sin is a function of the Jewish Messiah, quite apart from any thought of a redemptive death.”122
Generally, what John the Baptist intended by his declaration, “Behold the Lamb of God” must be determined by more than literary precedents. It is, then, pertinent to ask: Are there indications that John expected his Messiah to die and to be sacrificed for sin? Or was John’s understanding of Jesus controlled by their expectation that the Messiah would restore the kingdom and deliver the Jews from political oppression? Might John have had in mind a collage of symbolism from the OT and the Pseudepigrapha? The most important criterion for evaluating what John the Baptist understood by his proclamation about Jesus is the sum of John’s statements and experiences as recorded in the gospels.
The Fourth Gospel tells us that the Baptist “did not know” (Cf Jn. 1:30-33) this greater personage whose way he was to prepare. But he does know that his own role is to prepare a path for this mysterious Other, his whole mission is directed toward him.123
But certainly the Baptist was expecting the Messiah. Interestingly, the figure of the Lamb as “the Messiah, and primarily the militant and conquering Messiah”124 was already present in the in the Jewish Apocalyptic symbolism.125 Perhaps, this is why Andrew was quick to identify Jesus as the Messiah, (Heurekamen ton Messian = Eu'rh,kamen to.n Messi,an “We have found the Messiah”), on hearing the Baptist say, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Most importantly, “John the Baptist nowhere confirms the possibility that he understood Jesus role as personal redeemer.”126 John’s life ended prematurely and in disappointment because Jesus had not fulfilled his expectations of what the Messiah was to be. According to his inquiry from prison he could not have recognized Jesus because of the uncertain signals about what Jesus was doing.127 From prison John sent disciples inquiring of Jesus if he really was the Expected One or if someone else was going to be the Messiah. Jesus addresses his answer to John the Baptist, albeit through these intermediaries: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard” (Lk. 7:22). In other words, Jesus’ reply is simple;
Yes, I am the Messiah who was to come, not as the fiery political reformer you expected and not as the military conqueror many of the Jewish people expected, but as one who heals and frees and resuscitates, who cares for the unfortunate and preaches the goodness to the poor.128
Therefore, even if John could proclaim that Jesus was the Son of God, that he was pre-existent, and that he would baptize with the Holy Spirit, John’s understanding of Jesus was primarily that he would set up the kingdom and rule as Messiah. Therefore, we can say that “biblical and historical inquiry reveals, without question that John the Baptist was expecting an apocalyptic-eschatological, triumphant messiah, and not one who would suffer or atone for sin.”129 His eschatological message is evident in his warnings: Beware of the wrath that is coming (Matt 3:7; Luke 3:7); the axe is already cutting down the trees that do not bear fruit, and they will be thrown into the fire (Matt 3:10; Luke 3:9); after threshing the wheat, the Lord is going to burn up the chaff with unquencheable fire (Matt 3:12; Luke 3:17). There is no indication, then, that John was prepared for Jesus’ substitutionary role either as a suffering servant or a Passover lamb.
C. K. Barret130 and R. E. Brown131 both make a distinction between the meaning intended by the Evangelist and that intended by the Baptist. In concurring on the validity of the paschal lamb interpretation, both Barret and Brown assert that this could not have been the Baptist’s original meaning, and that it must have been the emphasis of the evangelist.
It is appriopriate to note that the Evangelist’s meaning was probably broader than but inclusive of the Baptist’s. The Baptist in his true historical context actually declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God”, in referring to Jesus. “The evangelist - in his narrative setting - took the opportunity to capitalize on this genuine pronouncement, investing it with greater meaning.”132
Certainly by the time the Evangelist composed the Fourth Gospel, the Church has come to understand the Baptist’s title for Jesus, in a new way: A lamb was a spotless sacrifice whose death atoned for sin, even as Jesus was the sinless Son of God who atoned for sin by his death on the cross.
Since the Johannine Jesus is a sin-bearing Messiah, the Evangelist frames the pronouncement in such a way and in such a context as to allow for and to produce double meaning. This is largely accomplished through his near hyperbolic emphasis on the sacrificial Passover image. In this light, “we can regard the ‘Lamb of God’ as both an utterance of the historical Baptist as well as a powerful theological affirmation of the Evangelist.”133 The historical Baptist’s idea is related to the conquering messiah images of the apocalypse and the extra-biblical, apocalyptic literature of the intertestamental period.
If the “lamb of God” is to be regarded as a genuine historical pronouncement recorded in the narrative then a proper interpretation of the title in the context would yield two meanings: one historical and one theological. Based on this idea, each of the other views if it stands alone, must be rejected. Rather, the most acceptable solution incorporates more than one of these views.
In the light of the foregoing, the most acceptable conclusion sees a combination of the Passover image as a theological emphasis and the triumphant lamb as rooted in historical context of the Baptist.134 This means that the phrase “lamb of God” is something of a double entendre consistent with the evangelist’s practice of investing a speaking character’s words with a greater post-resurrection significance.
EVALUATION AND CONCLUSION
We have examined different arguments in quest for an ideal background for the Lamb of God logion. None of them is completely conclusive or really exclusive of the others. It is interesting to note that “Behold, the lamb of God” was a seminal statement, both for John the Baptist and his listeners on the one hand, and for John the Evangelist and his readers on the other hand. Nevertheless, “to understand the Baptist’s statement in the light of its OT and apocalyptic milieu is to move closer to the intent of the speaker and to the perception of the initial hearers.”135 On the other hand, John frequently makes use of irony and double meanings in his gospel (Cf. Jn.3:3; 3:5). Hence, we believe that the totality of these multiple meanings and images are fully intended by the Evangelist.
However, we cannot ascertain how many of the lamb images we have looked at that John had in mind when he wrote the gospel. But these images seem to blend into a mufti-faceted whole to enhance our understanding of Jesus: As we consider the image of the regular daily sacrifice of a lamb in the temple, we are reminded that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross bears away our sins each day - indeed continually. As we consider the Passover image, we are reminded that Christ’s sacrifice was ‘once for all’, ‘once and for all.’
The image of the guilt offering reminds us that Christ was an unblemished and perfect sacrifice and in his death he assumed the punishment of our sins. Turning to the image of the scapegoat, we are again reminded that Christ bears away our sins. In the image of the lamb that is led to the slaughter, Christ substituted himself as a sacrifice for us.
As the gentle lamb, Jesus went quietly to his death in complete submission and obedience to his father’s will. Like the lamb provided for Abraham, Christ was the lamb provided by God because we are utterly unable to provide atonement for our sins, only God can do that. Finally, the lamb of the apocalypse reminds us that Jesus will one day return as the victorious conqueror to put all God’s enemies under his feet.
Remarkably, almost, if not all, the images of Christ we have considered are sacrificial. David Sinclair observes that Abraham and Isaac prophesied Christ’s sacrifice. The Passover applied the principles of his sacrifice. Isaiah 53 personified his sacrifice. The prologue of John’s gospel identified the sacrifice. Finally, it is magnified in Revelation 5:9-14.136 The blending of all these images leads us to and helps in our understanding of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
In instituting the Eucharist, Jesus had spoken of the “New and Eternal Covenant” in the shedding of his blood (Cf. Mt. 26:28; Mk 14:24; Lk 22:20). He had anticipated his death during the last supper by substituting himself under the signs of bread and wine. This sacrificial motive is clearly explicated by Matthew’s clause, “for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt. 26:28). Hence, the sacrifice of the Mass is deduced from the sacrifice of the cross. Truly, “The Mass is substantially the same sacrifice as that of the cross, and has all its infinite value: the same victim, the same oblation, the same priest.”137
It is not enough that Christ bled and died for our sake. Now we have our part to play. As with the Old covenant, so it is with the New. If you want to mark your covenant with God, to seal your covenant with God, renew your covenant with God, you must have to eat the Lamb (Cf. Ex. 12:8) - the paschal lamb who is our unleavened bread. Therefore, those who attend the celebration of the Eucharist and do not partake in the communion, leave this covenant relationship incomplete. On this obligation, the Evangelist writes “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (Jn. 6:54).
Grievous sin is an obstacle to the reception of communion and the obstacle must be removed before receiving the Eucharistic Lord. This implies that one necessarily needs to cut himself loose from the entanglement with sin in order to worthily partake of this meal. This cutting operation presupposes a certain amount of self-immolation, as an indispensable, preparatory step. God actually demands this interior sacrifice as well; given man’s inner inclination to yield to the allurement of sin. The psalmist declared that “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit” (Ps. 51:17). The Prophet Hosea spoke for God saying, “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6). “If sin, biblically considered, is the willful rejection by man of a loving communion with God, then the intimacy of the Eucharistic communion is just the opposite of sin.”138 Traditionally, when a Catholic is conscious of a grievous sin, he or she instinctively turns to the sacrament of reconciliation in order to regain the state of friendship with God. In other words, purification from sin is a necessary precondition for communion (with the lamb).
Sacrifice is primarily understood as “offering”. But in the case of Jesus, there is that personal sense of “self-offering”. For instance, in a clear reference to the sacrifice of Calvary, Paul says, the Son of God “loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Similarly, John in the parable of the good shepherd has Jesus say, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn. 10:15); and Titus 3:14 makes use of the same expression also in reference to Jesus’ sacrificial death: “Jesus Christ who gave himself for us...” Accordingly, we are to understand the term ‘sacrifice’ in a personal sense as “selfoffering,” not only in reference to Jesus’ death, but for our whole way of life. This would be in line with the NT’s call for sacrifice, not of the blood of bulls and goats, but of our lives as we seek to follow Christ: “Do not neglect to do good and share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Heb 13:16). In whatever form, sacrifice has one common, positive meaning: “Life is surrendered in order to be transformed and shared.”139
As disciples of the Lamb, “there is no other way of overcoming evil and sin except with the love that springs from the gift of one’s own life for others.”140 Hence, “all who partake in the Eucharist must commit themselves to peacemaking in our world scarred by violence and war, and today in particular, by terrorism, economic corruption and sexual exploitation.”141 Certainly, the restoration of justice, reconciliation and forgiveness are the conditions for building true peace.142 Indeed, the Eucharist which reminds us that the sacrifice of Christ is for all also compels us to become ‘bread’ that is ‘broken’ for others. This mystery thus gives rise to a service of charity towards neighbour.
Since his self-sacrifice is for the salvation of all, we cannot approach the Eucharistic table without being drawn into mission too. “An authentically Eucharistic church is a missionary church.”143 We too must be able to tell our brothers and sisters with conviction, “we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us” (1 Jn. 1:3).
The ultimate purpose of John’s mission was clear from the beginning of his public life, when on the bank of River Jordan he saw Jesus coming towards him and cried out: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”(Jn 1:29). It is significant that these same words are repeated at every celebration of the Holy Mass, when the priest invites us to approach the altar. This proclamation of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God each and everyday at the celebration of the sacrifice of the Holy Mass actively engages us in the work of salvation. As in the words of St. John Paul II, as we receive Christ let us know that “it is part of the grandeur of Christ’s love not to leave us in the condition of passive recipients, but to draw us into His saving work”144 We draw the strength for this mission mainly from the personal accent that we give to the truth of this proclamation. The Lamb that the priest shows us, elevating the host, must be worshipped in his divine humility and eaten in communion with his infinite charity. St. Paul admonishes us to celebrate this festival, the Mass, with “sincerity and truth” (I Cor. 5:8).
The character of the Eucharistic sacrifice and the particular words of consecration; “This is my body,” “This is my blood”(Lk.22:19-20), continually affirms the role of the priest as an altar christus. Christ himself was both Priest and Victim. Moreso, the Priest soon realizes that he is ultimately a witness, like John the Baptist, as he proclaims, “Behold, the Lamb of God” and invites the people to partake of the meal. This subsequent role brings to his consciousness the necessity for humility in the exercise of his function as Another Christ. So does every Christian by virtue of his baptism become a witness to the person of Christ. The early Christians were witnesses even to the offering of their lives in martyrdom. But ours can be a daily bloodless martyrdom through faithful adherence to the Gospel and a consistent Christian life.
While it is true that only the sufferings of Christ are means of atonement, yet since he has suffered for and borne the sins of the whole world and shares with us the fruits of his passion, the Christian too has to undergo temptation, he too has to bear the sins of others. The passion of Christ enables him to overcome the sins of others by forgiving them - “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). As Christ bears our burdens, so ought we to bear the burdens of our fellow-men. Thus, the call to follow Christ always means a call to share the work of literally forgiving men their sins. “Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian’s duty to bear.”145
The virtue of humility, as on the Baptist’s model, stands out as the hallmark of bearing witness to Christ for all Christians especially the Priests who daily echo “Behold the lamb of God.” They must flee vainglory, and always recognize Jesus as the protagonist of every work of salvation. By his proclamation, the Baptist also teaches us how to pray “by fixing one’s gaze upon the Lamb of God and by falling silent in adoration, in humility and in joy.”146 An effective witness, like John the Baptist, must have prayer as the guiding thread of his life. John’s humble, yet great lifestyle comes from his interiority, which is spent so totally for God and in preparing the way for Jesus. This makes him so strong, so principled and so consistent. Only if we are able to have a life of faithful, constant, trusting prayer will we gain the ability to humbly bear witness to Christ.
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1 All Biblical quotations and citations are from The New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (Bangalore: Theological Publications in India), unless otherwise stated.
2 A. J. BURKE, John The Baptist: Prophet and Disciple (India: St. Pauls, 2006)11.
3 G. BEASLEY-MURRAY, John WBC 36 (Nashville, 1999) 32.
4 A. CULPEPPER, The Gospel and Letters of John (Nashville, 1998) 29.
5 Kara Iwavvqv is the Greek rendering of “according to John.”
6 In Jn. 21:24 RSV, the beloved disciple is identified with the “witness” and even the “writer” of the Gospel.
7 W.E. KUMMEL, The Theology of the New Testament ( Nashville New York: Abingdon Press, 1973) 59.
8 L. JOHNSON, The Writings of the New Testament (India: Rekha, 2009) 225.
9 EUSEBIUS, Historia Ecclesiastica, 6.14.7.
10 IRENAEUS, Adversus Haereses 3.1.2.
11 D. A. CARSON, The Authorship of The Fourth Gospel ( Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans Publishing company), 68.
12 CARSON, The Authorship of The Fourth Gospel, 68.
13 Dei Verbum 18.
14 J. REDFORD, Bad, Mad or God? (India: St. Pauls, 2009) 158.
15 B. LINDARS, R. EDWARDS, J. COURT, The Johanine Literature (England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000) 42.
16 R. BROWN, The Gospel According to John, (New York: Doubleday, 1966) 84.
17 BROWN, The Gospel According To John, 84.
18 BROWN, The Gospel According To John, 84.
19 BROWN, The Gospel According To John, 85.
20 S. HAHN, Catholic Bible Dictionary (America: Doubleday, 2009) 460.
21 L. JOHNSON, The Writings of the New Testament, 534.
22 S. HAHN, Catholic Bible Dictionary, 459.
23 W. BARCLAY, A Beginner’s Guide to the New Testament (India: Rekha, 2009)15.
24 HAHN, Catholic Bible Dictionary, 459.
25 A. CULPEPPER, The Gospel and Letters of John, 119.
26 G. BEASLEY-MURRAY, John WBC, lxxxi.
27 P. MALE, Jesus and the Signs: A Theological Reflection Based on the Johannine Signs (Mumbai: St. Paul Press, 2010) 109.
28 G. K. WERNER, Introduction to the New Testament (Nashville: Abingdon press, 1975) 229.
29 G. MLAKUZHYIL, Initiation to the Gospel of Life: A Guide to John ’s Gospel (Mumbai: St. Pauls, 2008) 14.
30 JOHNSON, The Writings of the New Testament, 527.
31 R. E. BROWN, J. A. FITZMEYER, R. E. MURPHY, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. (New York: Prentice Hall, 1990) 949.
32 JOHNSON, The Writings of the New Testament, 527.
33 J. WIJNGAARDS, The Gospel of John & His Letters (Delaware: Michael Glazier Inc., 1986) 16.
34 B. H. THROCKMORTON, Gospel Parallels: A Synopsis of the First Three Gospels (New York: Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers, 1967) xx.
35 C. C. UZOWULU, Unpublished Lecture Notes on NT Exegesis - Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles. (Enugu: Bigard Memorial Seminary, 2015) 7.
36 A J. BURKE, John the Baptist, 21.
37 John’s Father, Zechariah repeats two of the prophecies of Malachi and Isaiah in the Benedictus (Lk 1:76-79), emphasizing that John will be a prophet, will go before the Lord to prepare his ways and will give knowledge of salvation to his people by forgiveness of their sins (as seen in Elijah’s mission of reconciliation (Malachi 3:1;4:5; Isaiah 40:3).
38 F. J. RIPLEY, The Last Gospel (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1961) 67.
39 RIPLEY, The Last Gospel, 67.
40 BURKE, John the Baptist, 13.
41 BURKE, John the Baptist, 31.
42 The word ‘repentance’ derives from the Hebrew transitive verb shub, “to turn back”. Repentance, then, was not merely a matter of belief, but of action.
43 BURKE, John the Baptist, 53.
44 BURKE, John the Baptist, 53
45 JOSEPHUS, Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, 5,2 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,1965) 83.
46 UZOWULU, Unpublished Lecture Notes on NT Exegesis, 15.
47 BURKE, John the Baptist, 53.
48 JUSTIN MARTYR, “Dialogue With Trypho”, 219.
49 BURKE, John the Baptist, 120.
50 Lk 1:5-80 and 2:1-40).
51 G. HERBERT, The Christ of Faith and The Jesus of History (London: SCM Press), 51
52 UZOWULU, Unpublished Lecture Notes on NT Exegesis, 17.
53 L. R. WILEY, Bible Animals (New York: Vantage Press, Inc., 1957) 370.
54 WILEY, Bible Animals, 370.
55 D. BERGANT and R. J. KARRIS, The Collegeville Bible Commentary (Minnesota: The Liturgical Press Collegeville, 1989) 91.
56 R. DE VAUX , Ancient Israel (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961) 488.
57 J. PLASTARAS, The God of Exodus (New York: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1966)144.
58 BERGANT and R. J. KARRIS, The Collegeville Bible Commentary, 91.
59 Cf. C. R. NORTH, The Suffering Servant in Deutero-Isaiah: An Historical and Critical Study (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956) 6-166.
60 R. DE MENEZES, The Old Testament for Our Times, (Mumbai: St Pauls, 2003) 196.
61 J. SCULLION, Isaiah 40-66 (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, Inc, 1982) 121.
62 SCULLION, Isaiah 40-66,121.
63 SCULLION, Isaiah 40-66,123.
64 C. R. NORTH, Isaiah 40-55: The Suffering Servant of God (London: SCM Press Ltd, 1956)139.
65 BERGANT and R. J. KARRIS, The Collegeville Bible Commentary, 130.
66 BERGANT and R. J. KARRIS, The Collegeville Bible Commentary, 131.
67 H. DANDY, The Mishnah (Massachusetts: Hendrickson publishers, 2011) 582.
68 W. BRUEGGEMANN, “The Book of Exodus” The New Interpreters Bible Vol. I (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994) 913.
69 P. D. MILLER, “The Book of Jeremiah” The new Interpreter ’s Bible Vol VI(Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001) 673.
70 T. E. FRETHEIM, “The Book of Genesis” The Interpreter’s Bible Vol. 1(Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994) 495.
71 FRETHEIM, “The Book of Genesis” The Interpreter ’s Bible, 499.
72 C. ROWLAND, “The Book of Revelation” The Interpreter’s Bible Vol XII (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998) 602.
73 ROWLAND, “The Meaning of Resurrection,” The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, (ed.) P. Avis (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1993) 93.
74 J. H. CHARLESWORTH (ed), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol. 2 (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1985) 660.
75 J. M. MYERS, I & IIEsdras (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1974) 186.
76 DANDY, The Mishnah (2011).
77 M. H. FARBRIDGE, Studies in Biblical and Semitic Symbolism (New York: KTAV, 1970), 5386.
78 CHARLESWORTH (ed), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol 1, 67.
79 CHARLESWORTH (ed), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol 1, 67.
80 CHARLESWORTH (ed), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol 1, 70.
81 CHARLESWORTH (ed), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol 1, 824.
82 L. BOUYER, The Fourth Gospel (Westminster: The Newman Press, 1964) 59.
83 D. SINCLAIR, Jesus: The Lamb of God https://www.davidsinclaircm.com (December 02, 2016).
84 C. H. DODD, Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (London: Cambridge University Press, 1960) 235.
85 C. F. BURNEY, The Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel (1922) 104-8.
86 W. ZIMMERLI and J. JEREMIAS, The Servant of God (London: SBT, 1957) 82f.
87 BROWN, The Gospel according to John, 61.
88 DODD, Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 235-236.
89 SANDY, Journal of the Evangelical Society, 450.
90 BEASLEY-MURRAY, John WBC 36, 109.
91 The most common terms associated with sacrifices are kbs, “sleep, lamb” and ’yl, “ram.” His term for sheep, rhl, occurs only three other times in the OT (Ex. 12:3-5; Gen. 43: 16; Isa. 34:2) and never as a sacrificial animal (Cf. D. B. SANDY, “John The Baptist’s ‘Lamb of God’ Affirmation in its Canonical and Apocalyptic Milieu” Journal of the Evangelical Society (Jets 34/4 December, 1991) 451.
92 DODD, Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 233.
93 SANDY, Journal of the Evangelical Society, 450.
94 SANDY, Journal of the Evangelical Society, 450.
95 SANDY, Journal of the Evangelical Society, 450.
96 BEASLEY-MURRAY, John WBC 36, 109.
97 C. K. BARRET, The Gospel According to St. John (Philadelphis:Westminster, 1978) 62.
98 BEASLEY-MURRAY, John WBC 36, 109.
99 SINCLAIR, Jesus: The Lamb of God.
100 See also John 19:31.
101 DODD, Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 234-235.
102 BROWN, The Gospel According to John, 62.
103 BROWN, The Gospel According to John, 62.
104 SINCLAIR, Jesus: The Lamb of God.
105 SINCLAIR, Jesus: The Lamb of God.
106 DODD, Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 234.
107 L. MORRIS, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans Publishing company, 1971)145.
108 BEASLEY-MURRAY, John WBC 36, 109.
109 R. HAIGHT, Jesus, Symbol of God (New York: Orbis Books, 1999) 225.
110 E. C. HOSKYNS, The Fourth Gospel (Great Britain: Latimer Trend and Company, 1947) 176.
111 BROWN, The Gospel According to John, 63.
112 BEASLEY-MURRAY, John WBC 36, 109.
113 J. H. BERNARD, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of St. John (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1928) 43.
114 I. H. MARSHALL, “Lamb of God” The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, J. B. Green, et al (eds) (Downers Grove, III: Intervarsity, 1992) 433.
115 C. SKINNER, Another Look at “The Lamb of Lamb” 2004. www.bible.org(December 4, 2016).
116 BROWN, The Gospel According to John, 61.
117 BROWN, The Gospel According to John, 61.
118 DODD, Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 233.
119 BARRET, “The Lamb of God” New Testament Studies 1 (1955) 210.
120 BROWN, The Gospel According to John, 60.
121 BROWN, The Gospel According to John, 60.
122 DODD, Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 233.
123 J. RATZINGER, Jesus of Nazareth (London: Bloomsbury, 2007)14.
124 DODD, Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 232.
125 1 Enoch 90:6-19; Testament of Joseph 19;18-12; Testament of Benjamin 3:8. See JAMES H. CHARLESWORTH, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (New York: Doubleday, 1983) 1:70, 1:82426.
126 SANDY, Journal of the Evangelical Society, 458.
127 BURNEY, The Aramaic Origin of The Fourth Gospel, 104 -108.
128 BURKE, John the Baptist, 103
129 This can be seen not only in John’s kerygma as preserved in Matthew 3:7-12 and Luke 3:11-17, but also in the description of John provided by Josephus. See FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS, Jewish Antiquities, Vol. 9 Trans. H. St. J. Thackeray, et al (Cambridge: Havard University Press, 1965) 77.
130 BARRET, “The Lamb of God” New Testament Studies 1, 217-18.
131 BROWN, The Gospel According to John, 62-3.
132 CHRIS SKINNER, Another Look at “The Lamb of Lamb.”
133 CHRIS SKINNER, Another Look at “The Lamb of Lamb.”
134 CHRIS SKINNER, Another Look at “The Lamb of Lamb.”
135 SANDY, Journal of the Evangelical Society, 459.
136 SINCLAIR, Jesus: The Lamb of God. https://www.davidsinclaircm.com (December 02, 2016).
137 A. ROYO and J. AUMANN, The Theology of Christian Perfection (Iowa: The Priory Press, 1962), 359.
138 L. M. BERMEJO, Body Broken & Blood Shed (India: Anand Press, 1987), 299.
139 S. HAHN, The Lamb ’s Supper (New York: Doubleday, 1999), 26.
140 POPE FRANCIS, CNA/EWTN News, Jan. 19, 2014,09:49 am .
141 BENEDICT XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, (Nairobi: Paulines Publications, 2007), 82.
142 BENEDICT XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 81-82.
143 BENEDICT XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 77-78.
144 JOHN PAUL II, Incarnationis Mysterium (Nov. 29, 1998), 10.
145 D. BONHOEFFER, The Cost of Discipleship (New YorK: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 90.
146 BENEDICT XVI, General audience on “The Primacy of God in Our lives,” www.vultuschristi.org Feb. 16, 2017.
- Quote paper
- Michael Denis (Author), 2017, Lamb of God. The Baptist's testimony of Jesus as a sacrificial offering, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/496602