Date of Award
Pablo T. Gadenz, S.T.D.
Lawrence E. Frizzell, D.Phil.
Passover, suffering servant, lamb, paschal sacrifice, Son of God, Akedah, scapegoat
This study focuses on the testimony of John the Baptist—“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” [ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου] (John 1:29, 36)—and its impact on the narrative of the Fourth Gospel. The goal is to provide a deeper understanding of this rich image and its influence on the Gospel. In an attempt to do so, three areas of concentration are explored. First, the most common and accepted views of the background of the “Lamb of God” title in first century Judaism and Christianity are reviewed. An effort is made to determine the intended reference underlying the word “lamb,” whether taken literally or figuratively, and to analyze the title in light of the use of the lamb in the Old Testament Jewish animal sacrifices. The New Testament and Christian first century writings are also examined. Second, the study analyzes the literary structure of John 1, includes an exegesis of John 1:29-34, and discusses the Lamb of God title as well as other titles of Jesus found in the pericope. In addition, this discussion provides an overview of the diverse contributions offered by recent scholars who have examined the “Lamb Of God” title. Their different claims are grounded in the Old Testament theology of sacrificial traditions and in the existence of different Semitic dialects in Palestine in the first century AD. Finally, this study addresses the purpose for which the Evangelist, at the beginning of his Gospel, introduces the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus as lamb and its impact on the rest of the Gospel. The discussion follows the pertinent Passover and Exodus themes, theological motifs, and references to the paschal lamb in relevant passages so to reach a structural conclusion: as a witness to Jesus’ death and resurrection, the beloved disciple John confirms the Baptist’s salvific message and connects Jesus’ activities and discourses with the Passover and Exodus themes. Ultimately, the Evangelist portrays Jesus in the Passion narrative as the true paschal lamb. As an eyewitness, the beloved disciple makes an intertextual correlation with the Passover ritual and the slaughtering of the lamb through his description of the various details concerning the Crucifixion. In summary, the study explains the Lamb of God title and demonstrates how the prophetic testimony of John the Baptist regarding Jesus as the Lamb of God, found at the beginning of the Gospel, is ultimately confirmed and handed on by the eyewitness testimony of the beloved disciple at the end of Gospel.
Shaker, Christiane, "The "Lamb of God" Title in John's Gospel: Background, Exegesis, and Major Themes" (2016). Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). 2220.