Application of criteria for identifying scriptural reuse demonstrates that John 8:12 is a specific allusion to Isa 9:1. Affirming the often overlooked proposal that the allusion answers the objection to Jesus in 7:52, this paper suggests the allusion serves a multi-layered narrative function. It demonstrates that Jesus’ opponents are ignorant of the portion of Isaiah to which he alludes, undermines them for their failure to know the Scriptures that testify on his behalf by a lexical link from ἐραύνησον in 7:52 to ἐραυνᾶτε in 5:39, and affirms the messianic identity of Jesus in accordance with the purpose of the book.
Note e.g. Thomas L. BrodieThe Gospel according to John: A Literary and Theological Commentary (New York: Oxford University Press1993) 323 who combines use of light imagery in the OT and Qumran literature as background for John 8:12 and the many references in Beasley-Murray John 127-128.
Thyen“Ich bin das Licht der Welt: Das Ich- und Ich-Bin-Sagen Jesu im Johannesevangelium,” in Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum (Jahrgang 35:1992; Münster: Aschendorffsche Verlagsbuchhandlung1993) 38although see his comparison of Jesus’ words to Isa 42:16 on 25.
Andrew T. LincolnTruth on Trial: The Lawsuit Motif in the Fourth Gospel (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson2000) 44-45; Grant Macaskill Union with Christ in the New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2013) 257-261.
MorrisThe Gospel according to John436-439. This is despite his statement that “it must always be borne in mind that light is a common theme in both Old and New Testaments so that it is not necessary for us to find the source of Jesus’ great saying in any non-biblical place” (437).
WitheringtonJohn’s Wisdom174-175. Also Benjamin E. Reynolds The Apocalyptic Son of Man in the Gospel of John (wunt 2/249; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2008) 163-164 although understanding 8:12 and what follows as a continuation of discussion of the origin and identity of Jesus in Chapter 7 does not suggest any more specific link.
E.g. BruceThe Gospel of John25; Moloney The Gospel of John 251; and Sanders and Mastin A Commentary on the Gospel according to St John 218. G.H.C. MacGregor The Gospel of John (mntc; London: Hodder and Stoughton 1928) 192-193 sees so little connection between 8:12 and what follows to the end of chapter 7 that he places it after 7:24. Contrast Barrett The Gospel according to St John 335: “The discourse is continued from 7.52. There is no indication of a change of place and 8.20 shows that Jesus is still in the Temple (as at 7.28); but in these central discourses John seems indifferent to details of sequence and movement.” Although Hartwig Thyen Das Johannesevangelium (hnt 6; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2005) 419-421 places a significant break before 8:12 he also notes the logical connection I am proposing on 423.
BarrettThe Gospel according to St John332; Bernard A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to St. John 290; Brodie The Gospel according to John 322; Bultmann Das Evangelium des Johannes 235 235n5 implicitly Sanders and Mastin A Commentary on the Gospel according to St John 218. As mentioned above Thyen notes both very briefly in Das Johannesevangelium 422-423. Bauer notes the use of the word in 5:39 but dismisses a link from 7:52 back to it since the Scriptures mentioned a prophet from Galilee in 2 Kgs 14:25 and since 2 Kgs 10:23 lxx (4 Kgs 10:23) contains a similar phrase without reference to Scripture; Walter Bauer Johannes vol. 2 of Die Evangelien (hnt 2; Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) 1912) 84. Others not noting any connection between 7:52 and 5:39 include Beasley-Murray John 121 although he explains the searching as specifically a searching of “the Scriptures”; Brown The Gospel according to John (i-xii) 330; Bruce The Gospel of John 185-186; Busse Das Johannesevangelium 163-164; Köstenberger John 244; Lightfoot St. John’s Gospel 185-186; Morris The Gospel according to John 434; Siegert Das Evangelium des Johannes in seiner ursprünglichen Gestalt 350; Waetjen The Gospel of the Beloved Disciple 233; Westcott The Gospel according to St. John 125; Witherington John’s Wisdom 174. MacGregor The Gospel of John 210 may recognize the use of the word in the two passages without explicitly noting it since he inserts “the Scriptures” in parentheses after “Search” in his comments. Similarly Carson John 332 and Schnelle Das Evangelium nach Johannes 166 say that Nicodemus is told to search the Scriptures without referencing 5:39.