Johannine Fulfillment Of Scripture: Continuity And Escalation -- By: Brian J. Tabb

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 21:4 (NA 2011)
Article: Johannine Fulfillment Of Scripture: Continuity And Escalation
Author: Brian J. Tabb

Johannine Fulfillment Of Scripture:
Continuity And Escalation

Brian J. Tabb

Bethlehem College And Seminary

Scriptural fulfillment is a critical theme throughout the Gospel of John, but in 12:38-19:37 the evangelist draws explicit attention to the deeper purpose at work in Jesus’ passion by the distinctive introductory formula “in order that Scripture may be fulfilled.” This article argues that John rarely uses fulfillment language such as this in appeals to prediction; rather, Johannine “fulfillment” is characterized by a dialectic, mutually interpretive relationship of continuity and escalation between the OT text and Jesus’ work. Jesus’ death “fulfills” the Scriptures by revealing the decisive, eschatological meaning of these earlier texts, while the OT likewise offers the categories necessary to disclose the true significance of his identity as the rejected, crucified Messiah.

Key Words: fulfillment, Gospel of John, use of OT in NT, typology, prediction, John 12:38-40, John 15:25

Author’s note: This article is a revision of chapter three of my Master of Theology thesis, The Death of Jesus and the Accomplishment of Scripture: A Contextual Study of the Use of the Old Testament in John 19:16b-37 (Luther Seminary, 2009), which was presented at annual meeting of the Upper Midwest Region of the Society of Biblical Literature, St. Paul, MN, April 9-10.


Scholars have long recognized the significance of the Fourth Gospel’s use of the OT while reaching divergent conclusions regarding John’s textual sources, hermeneutical approach, and theological intention in citing Scripture. E. D. Freed writes, “[I]n no other writer are the O.T. quotations so carefully woven into the context and the whole plan of composition as in Jn.”1 While it is true that the Fourth Gospel is “influenced by scripture on every page,”2 the appeal to the OT witness becomes more pronounced as Jesus moves deliberately toward the cross. The primary purpose of this essay is to explain what John means in saying that Jesus’ rejection and death occur “in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled.”

Fulfillment Vocabulary In The Fourth Gospel

Beginning in 12:38, John draws his readers’ attention to the purposeful fulfillment of Scripture in Jesus’ rejection and death by employing i...

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