Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 149:596 (Oct 1992)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“John the Baptist’s ‘Lamb of God’ Affirmation in Its Canonical and Apocalyptic Milieu,” D. Brent Sandy, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34 (1991): 447-60.

Sandy’s basic thesis is that the statement by John the Baptist, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), should be understood not redemptively but apocalyptically as referring to the conquering Lamb who judges sinners. Thus John the Baptist was not relating the concept to Isaiah 53. The concept of the redemptive work of the Lamb is taught in the New Testament, and John the Evangelist broadened the meaning to refer to sacrifice. Sandy sets forth six arguments to defend this thesis.

(1) Isaiah 53:7 refers not to sacrifice but to silence. While it is true that the sheep metaphor here reflects an attitude of submission, the verse must be related to the context. Since the one who acts like a sheep (by being silent) dies as a guilt offering, it should not be considered strange that the death of the lamb (as well as its silence) is being communicated. (2) Sheep are pictured in the Old Testament as triumphant and victorious. The only text Sandy offers in support of this point is Daniel 8, which refers to the ram. However, male sheep with horns would be expected to be aggressive especially in the beast apocalypse of Daniel 7–8. None of the other references Sandy cites seem to support his point. The use of the conquering lamb in Revelation is a role reversal all right, but that does not define “lamb.” That definition was made in the Gospels and then developed (reversed) in the Apocalypse. (3) The extrabiblical contexts may allow the meaning of conquering sheep, but that is not the most common meaning and therefore leaves some doubt about that meaning lying behind John’s use.

(4) Sandy argues that “taking away sin” is often used of removing sin in judgment and need not be connected with sacrificial redemption. However, some of the examples he cites refer to removing “sinful men,” not sin. (5) Perhaps Sandy’s strongest argument is John’s perception of the nature of the Messiah’s work presented in the Gospels. There is little room for a “suffering servant” concept in the places where John’s expectations are given. There is some circular reasoning here, however. Since all references to John the Baptist’s expectations except for John 1:29 seem to look for only the victorious aspect of the kingdom, John 1:...

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