Motifs of Anointing in the Old Testament and in John

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review


While several scholars do not consider the anointing of (the feet of) Jesus in Bethany described in the Gospel of John to carry any messianic connotations, some claim that a royal messianic notion is behind the anointing. The hypothesis of this paper is that the anointing is indeed to be understood as messianic, but that it is insufficient to consider only one Christological motif to be in the background. Instead several anointing motifs from the OT are likely to cooperate in order to confirm a number of offices and functions held by Jesus.
In John Jesus is presented more or less explicitly as king, bridegroom, prophet, temple, and also functions as high-priest. All of these designations adhere to theological motifs of the OT, where they are connected to anointing. The literary character of John – e.g. the use of double-edged expressions that are meant to reveal deeper theological meaning, and the tendency to use images in more than one way – makes it likely that the anointing episode in John 12:1-8 anticipated in 11:2 is meant to express more than one Christological notion. In order to test the hypothesis I will investigate thematic and linguistic similarities and differences between John’s episode of the anointing in Bethany and John’s conception of Jesus as Christ in general, on the one hand, and the anointings in the OT, on the other hand.
One important point of comparison concerns the relation between anointing performed by humans and by God. The humanly performed anointings of priests, the tabernacle sanctuary and kings were complemented by and connected to a divine anointing or touch. A pattern, in some respects similar, can be found in the Johannine story of Jesus and his anointing. Another important issue is that often several anointings of a person or an object are performed in the OT. A similar pattern can also be found in John, where Jesus can be considered to be anointed two or possibly three times.

Original abstract:
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012
EventSociety of Biblical Literature International Meeting 2012 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Netherlands
Duration: 2012 Jul 222012 Jul 26


ConferenceSociety of Biblical Literature International Meeting 2012

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (015017000)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Religious Studies


  • Gospel of John
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Holy Spirit
  • anointing
  • Jesus
  • Christology


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