Johns, Loren L.

The Lamb Christology of the Apocalypse of John

An Investigation into Its Origins and Rhetorical Force

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This is a study of the symbolic meaning of arnion (lamb) in the Apocalypse of John as the central feature of the Christology of Revelation. Loren L. Johns argues that arnion did not refer to an aggressive, militant ram in extant Greek literature prior to the Apocalypse, nor did it normally denote the expiatory sacrificial lamb. Rather, it symbolized vulnerability in the extant literature.

The author examines the symbolic antecedents of arnion in the Hebrew Bible, while ranging throughout the literary evidence from the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman era, even touching on the evidence from Homer and Aesop's Fables traditions. He analyzes closely the evidence that has been offered in support of a militant lamb-redeemer figure in the apocalyptic traditions of Early Judaism and concludes that none of the writings that predate the Apocalypse and that are cited in support of this tradition is free from Christian editorializing. Furthermore, the Christology of the Apocalypse is not militant. The blood on the lamb in Rev. 19 is not from the defeated enemies of God; it is from the slaughter of the lamb.

Loren L. Johns concludes that the Lamb Christology of the Apocalypse has an ethical force - that the author develops his Lamb Christology specifically to encourage his audience to the kind of faithful witness that he was convinced would result in their death as innocent lambs in much the same way that Jesus' witness did.

2003. xi, 276 pages (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2.Reihe / #167).

ISBN 3-16-148164-X sewn paper €49.00  

Table of contents

Preface .............................................................................................................................................. vii
Chapter I. Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 1
    1.1 Introductory Observations .................................................................................................... 1
    1.2 “Apocalypse” in Popular Discourse .................................................................................. 11
    1.3 Methodology and Reading Strategies ............................................................................... 14
    1.4 Problems Central to this Dissertation ................................................................................. 19
    1.5 Procedure and Outline .......................................................................................................... 21

Chapter II. What is το αρνιον [to arnion]? .................................................................................. 22
2.1 Lamb Lexicography and Statistics ........................................................................................... 22
2.2 Questions about Translation ................................................................................................... 22
2.3 The Semantic Domain of “Lamb” in the New Testament ..................................................... 25
2.4 “Lamb” in the Hebrew Bible and Septuagint ......................................................................... 28
2.5 The Lamb Domain in Josephus and Philo .............................................................................. 32
    2.5.1 In Josephus .......................................................................................................................... 32
    2.5.2 In Philo .................................................................................................................................. 35
    2.5.3 The Josephus and Philo Evidence Interpreted ............................................................... 36
2.6
αρνιον [arnion] as a Cryptogram ............................................................................................. 38
2.7 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................. 38

Chapter III. Lambs in the Ancient Near East and the Graeco-Roman Environment .............. 40
3.1 Prehistoric Animal Mythologies ............................................................................................. 42
3.2 Egyptian Religion ...................................................................................................................... 43
    3.2.1 Ram Deities .......................................................................................................................... 45
    3.2.2 The Lamb to Bocchoris ...................................................................................................... 47
3.3 Aesopic Fable Traditions ......................................................................................................... 52
3.4 Greek and Roman Mythology and Religion .......................................................................... 55
    3.4.1 Lions and Lambs in Homer’s Epics ................................................................................. 56
    3.4.2 Oracular Deities Associated with the Ram ..................................................................... 57
    3.4.3 The Golden Fleece .............................................................................................................. 60
    3.4.4 Sacrifice Traditions ............................................................................................................. 62
    3.4.5 Rams and Lambs in Greek Art ........................................................................................... 65
    3.4.6 Roman Religion and the Magna Mater ............................................................................ 66
    3.4.7 Aries: Lamb of the Zodiac .................................................................................................. 68
3.5 Summary and Conclusion ......................................................................................................... 75

Chapter IV. Lambs in Early Judaism .............................................................................................. 76
4.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................................ 76
4.2 The Literature Examined ............................................................................................................ 80
    4.2.1 Testament of Joseph 19:8 .................................................................................................. 80
    4.2.2 Testament of Benjamin 3:8 ................................................................................................. 87
    4.2.3 1 Enoch 89–90 ...................................................................................................................... 88
    4.2.4 Psalms of Solomon 8 ........................................................................................................... 97
4.3 Lambs in Rabbinic Literature .................................................................................................... 98
    4.3.1 Moses as Lamb .................................................................................................................. 101
    4.3.2 David as Lamb .................................................................................................................... 104
4.4 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 106

Chapter V. Lamb Symbolism in the Old Testament and the Apocalypse ............................... 108
5.1 The Lamb and the Meaning of Symbols ................................................................................ 108
5.2 Method in Symbol Analysis .................................................................................................... 109
5.3 The Social-Historical Setting of the Apocalypse ................................................................. 120
5.4 Potential Antecedents in the Old Testament ........................................................................ 127
    5.4.1 The Lambs of the Sacrificial System ................................................................................ 128
    5.4.2 The Paschal Lamb of Exodus ............................................................................................ 130
    5.4.3 The Suffering Servant Song of Isaiah 53:7 ..................................................................... 133
    5.4.4 Daniel’s Vision of a Ram and a Goat (Dan. 8) ................................................................ 135
    5.4.5 The Aqedah (Gen. 22) ....................................................................................................... 137
    5.4.6 The Lambs of Micah 5:6 [
LXX] ......................................................................................... 140
    5.4.7 The Lambs of Eschatological Peace ............................................................................... 143
    5.4.8 The Vulnerable Lamb of the
LXX ..................................................................................... 145

Chapter VI. The Rhetorical Force of the Lamb Christology in the Apocalypse ................... 150
6.1 The Christology of the Apocalypse in Political Context .................................................... 151
6.2 The Rhetoric of the Apocalypse ............................................................................................ 155
6.3 The Central Scene in Revelation 5 ......................................................................................... 158
    6.3.1 The Lion .............................................................................................................................. 164
    6.3.2 The Root ............................................................................................................................. 167
    6.3.3 The Lamb ............................................................................................................................ 168
    6.3.4 The Praise ........................................................................................................................... 168
6.4 Christology and Ethics in the Apocalypse .......................................................................... 171
    6.4.1 “Witness” in the Apocalypse ......................................................................................... 172
    6.4.2 “Triumph” in the Apocalypse ......................................................................................... 175
    6.4.3 The Prophetic Calls to Discernment ............................................................................... 180
    6.4.4 The Lamb as Divine Warrior ............................................................................................ 181
    6.4.5 But is the Vision Really Ethical? ...................................................................................... 185
6.5 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 202

Appendix I. The Semantic Domain of “Lamb” in the Old Testament ...................................... 207
    The Lamb in the Old Testament ................................................................................................ 208
    Notes to pp. 208–209 .................................................................................................................. 210
    General Uses of “Lamb” (Nonsacrificial, Nonsymbolic) ....................................................... 212
    The Sacrificial Lamb in the Hebrew Bible and Septuagint .................................................... 213
    Lamb as Symbol in the Hebrew Bible and Septuagint ........................................................... 214
    The Passover Lamb in the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint .............................................. 215

Appendix II. “Titles” Used for Jesus in the Apocalypse of John ........................................... 217

Bibliography .................................................................................................................................... 223

Indices .............................................................................................................................................. 245
Index of Ancient Sources .............................................................................................................. 245
Index of Modern Authors ............................................................................................................. 264
Subject Index ................................................................................................................................... 270

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Johns, Loren L.

Born 1955; 1977-1985 Pastor; 1985-1988 Theology Book Editor, Herald Press; 1993-2000 Assistant and Associate Professor of Religion, Bluffton University, Ohio; 1998 Ph.D.; Currently Associate Professor of New Testament, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana.

Purchase

To purchase a copy of this book, please send a check to me for $63 (U.S. dollars; $62 Canadian), which represents approximately a 10% discount off the publisher's retail price. I will provide free shipping in the U.S. and Canada. Send to:

Loren L. Johns
AMBS
3003 Benham Ave
Elkhart IN 46517