The Feast of Dedication and a Possible Resurrection Motif in John 10:22-39

Geoff ChapmanBiblical Theology, Potential Papers0 Comments

The discussion regarding Jesus’ relationship with the Father in John 10:22ff happens, according to the Johannine author (v.22), against the backdrop of the Feast of Dedication (or Hannukah).  This editorial note by John is quite possibly a deliberate parallel reference to the resurrection of Jesus.  If this is the case then it sheds further light on the authorial purpose of this difficult passage.

John 10 we see Jesus walking in the temple, it is obvious by now that John is deliberately and repeatedly identifying Jesus as the fulfilment of all OT types and all Jewish festivals. It is highly likely he is also doing the same with this new festival.

Maloney (Gospel of John 1998, 313-314) highlights the background to Hannukah, the temple was taken over by Antiochus IV with the help of a corrupt Jewish national leaders.  The high-priesthood was sold and the temple desecrated in various ways.  The temple was recaptured, rebuilt and refurbushed by Judas Maccabeus and was rededicated exactly 3 years after it was defiled.

The parallels should be obvious, Jesus, the true temple, is handed over by corrupt Jewish leaders to a foreign, pagan power.  The temple himself is desecrated by hanging on a cursed tree.  3 days later he is restored to life, the temple is rebuilt (John 2:19).

What is the purpose of this parallel?  If John is writing to a Jewish audience, his purpose is evangelistic.  The stumbling block to his audience is how could Christ be the Messiah if he suffered  a cursed death?  John’s answer?  An argument from the lesser to the greater:  How could God allow his holy temple be desecrated so despicably by Antiochus IV?  Yet, he did, and the temple was rededicated and this was accepted by all God-fearing Jews.  You will accept the first literal desecration and rededication of the temple, but you won’t accept the message of the crucified Messiah, the fulfilment of the temple?

If this proposal can be demonstrated carries weight then it further suggests a Christo-skeptic Jewish audience as a primary target of John’s Gospel.  It also hints that Jesus is referring to miracles yet to come as well as things he has already done in the second half of chapter 10 as the evidence of his Messiahship.  His words are addressed to the reader as much to the Jewish leaders who were questioning him at the time.



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