From: Clayton Bartholomew (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Jun 30 1997 - 13:34:43 EDT
A number of years ago C.H. Dodd(1) and more recently D.A. Carson(2) argued
that John the Baptist was making reference to an apoplectic figure in his
prophecy in John 1:29:
IDE O AMNOS TOU QEOU O AIRWN THN AMARTIAN TOU KOSMOU
The crucial question in this passage is: How do we read O AIRWN?
D.A. Carson suggests that John the Baptist was making reference to a wrathful
apocalyptic figure who would *remove* by force sin from the world. This has an
obvious connection to the Lamb (ARNION) of the Apocalypse (Chapter 5 and
Carson also suggests that John the author of the Gospel had a different
intention in including this quote from the Baptist. So that what we have is
another example of a NT author quoting from an OT Prophet, the last OT
Prophet, John the Baptist, and turning his prophecy to their own use and some
what ignoring the sense in which the original prophecy was intended.
I am not totally happy with CarsonÕs explanation. I donÕt see the BaptistÕs use of
O AIRWN THN AMARTIAN TOU KOSMOU as conflicting with the use of John the
evangelist. They key to the relationship between these two uses is to be found
in the new song in the Apocalypse (5:9):
AXIOS EI LABEIN TO BIBLION
KAI ANOIXAI TAS SFRAGIDAS AUTOU
OTI ESFAGHS KAI HGORASAS TWi QEWi EN TWi AIMATI SOU . . .
In this hymn we see a linkage between the *taking away* of sin as atonement
and the *taking away* of sin as wrathful judgement of the KOSMOU. The LAMB is
*worthy* to open the book of judgement and itÕs seven seals which will result in
the total and final removal of sin from the KOSMOU; the LAMB is *worthy*
because of the work of the LAMB that had preceded in *taking* away the sin of
I am suggesting that John the author of the Gospel is employing intentional
polysemy(3) with the word AIRWN in the phrase: O AIRWN THN AMARTIAN TOU
KOSMOU, and the key to this polysemy is to be found in the hymn quoted above.
Three Tree Point
(1)(2) In their commentaries on JohnÕs Gospel.
(3) multiple meanings of the same word
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