Another Look at “the Lamb of God” -- By: Christopher W. Skinner

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 161:641 (Jan 2004)
Article: Another Look at “the Lamb of God”
Author: Christopher W. Skinner

Another Look at
“the Lamb of God”

Christopher W. Skinner

Christopher W. Skinner is Associate Pastor, Perry Hall Baptist Church, Baltimore, Maryland, and a Ph.D. student in biblical studies at Catholic University, Washington, DC.

Inquiries into the interpretation of John the Baptist’s “Lamb of God” pronouncements in John 1:29 and 36 have long been the subject of serious discussion in New Testament studies.1 Countless commentators have attempted to identify the referent behind the “Lamb.” The purpose of this study is to summarize the major positions with the intention of understanding the history of interpretation on the subject during the last century and proposing a view that incorporates a number of factors germane to the discussion.

The nine most commonly posed views to be considered fall into two groups—those that appeal to the theology of atonement and those that do not.

Major Views Associated with the Atonement

The Tamid or the Lamb of the Daily Sacrifices

A critical part of communal life and worship under the Mosaic system was the daily sacrificial offering of a lamb in the tabernacle and later in the temple. This practice became known as the Tamid (תָּמִיד, the Hebrew term meaning “regularly” or “continually”). This daily ritual was outlined in the Mosaic Law in a portion dedicated to the requirements and activities of the priests. “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old regularly [תָּמִיד] each day. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer in the evening and with the first lamb one-tenth of a measure of choice flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb you shall offer in the evening, and shall offer it with a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, an offering by fire to the Lord. It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there” (Exod. 29:38–42).2 As with other Old Testament sacrifices, this was a way for Israel to gain access to the Lord.

Animals being sacrificed were to be unblemished physically. This requirement is related to the “otherness” of Yahweh; the ...

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