Chapter 6 Messianic Exegesis in the Fourth Gospel

In: Reading the Gospel of John’s Christology as Jewish Messianism
Jocelyn McWhirter
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Early Christians searched the scriptures to find meaning in Jesus’ death. According to Donald Juel, their findings emerged from “messianic exegesis.” Following the rule of gezerah shewah, they interpreted passages reminiscent of Jesus in light of acknowledged messianic texts. This study focuses on twelve explicit christological citations in the Fourth Gospel: Exod. 12:46; Pss 22:18; 34:20; 41:9; 69:4, 9, 21; 118:25–26; Isa 6:10; 40:3; 53:1; and Zech. 9:9; 12:10. Johannine exegetes could have used “messianic exegesis” to justify interpreting them as prophecies about Jesus. The evidence that suggests that they did. Psalms 22; 69; 118 and Isa. 52:13—53:12—standard Christian proof texts—can be interpreted in light of a messianic psalm, Ps. 89. Messianic exegesis extends from them to Exod. 12; Pss. 34; 41; 118; Isa. 6:1–10; and Zech. 9:9; 12:0. John’s tandem quotations share significant catchwords, with each other and with Ps. 22. Furthermore, John’s narrative emphasizes catchwords like come, eyes, see, hate, lift up, and glorify. Apparently, John has searched the scriptures and found a Messiah who comes into the world, opening blind eyes but hated by those who cannot see. In the end, he is lifted up and glorified—on a Roman cross.

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