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The Role of Jewish Feasts in John’s Gospel

The Role of Jewish Feasts in John’s Gospel
Gerald Wheaton


School of Divinity, St. Mary's College, University of St. Andrews, Fife KY16 9AJ, UNITED KINGDOM.


The present work aims to elucidate the role of the Jewish feasts of Passover, Tabernacles and Dedication in the presentation of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel. Specifically, I will seek to gain a clearer understanding of John’s appropriation of the symbolic and traditional backgrounds of these feasts by examining pertinent sources from contemporary Judaism and the manner in which John has made use of the traditions preserved therein. Past studies have achieved consensus on certain points of interpretation but overlooked important evidence at other points. Some scholars have also been too quick to cite John’s treatment of the feasts as evidence of his anti-Jewish posture in the Gospel as a whole. In what follows, therefore, I will give particular attention to those background sources which have not been accorded due attention. I will also attempt to situate my study within the wider question of Judaism in the Fourth Gospel and to suggest how the results achieved in the end may bear upon ongoing debates on this matter.