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Hanukkah and the Testimony of Jesus' Works (John 10:22-39)

From: Journal of Biblical Literature
Volume 132, Number 2, 2013
pp. 431-451 | 10.1353/jbl.2013.0023



This study offers a new proposal concerning the importance of the Hanukkah setting of Jesus' discourse in John 10:22-39 by arguing that the discourse's focus on Jesus' works suits the festival of Hanukkah because of a tendency to associate Hanukkah with miracles and the use of miracles to justify its observance. The first section surveys previous proposals for Hanukkah imagery in 10:22-39, noting their shortcomings and the lack of consensus concerning the connection between the content and occasion of Jesus' discourse. This lack of consensus stands in stark contrast to the almost universally recognized links between the content and occasion of Jesus' discourse on the "bread of life" at Passover (ch. 6) and his discourse on "living water" at Tabernacles (chs. 7-8), and it raises the question of whether there is an undetected link in 10:22-39. The second section examines discussions of Hanukkah in Second Temple and rabbinic texts, detecting a connection between Hanukkah and miracles in texts that are both chronologically earlier and later than the Gospel of John. The third section discusses how this association between Hanukkah and miracles illuminates the discourse in 10:22-39 and offers other implications for the study of the Gospel of John.

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