Lamb of God (Greek : Ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, romanized: Amnòs toû Theoû; Latin : Agnus Deī [ˈaɲus ˈde.i] ) is a title for Jesus that appears in the Gospel of John. It appears at John 1:29, where John the Baptist sees Jesus and exclaims, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." It appears again in John 1:36.
Christian doctrine holds that a divine Jesus chose to suffer crucifixion at Calvary as a sign of his full obedience to the will of his divine Father, as an "agent and servant of God" in carrying away the sins of the world.In Christian theology the Lamb of God is viewed as both foundational and integral to the message of Christianity.
A lion-like lamb that rises to deliver victory after being slain appears several times in the Book of Revelation.It is also referred to in Pauline writings; 1 Corinthians 5:7 suggests that Saint Paul intends to refer to the death of Jesus, who is the Paschal Lamb, using the theme found in Johannine writings. The lamb metaphor is also in line with Psalm 23, which depicts God as a shepherd leading his flock (mankind).
The Lamb of God title is widely used in Christian prayers. The Latin version, Agnus Dei, and translations are a standard part of the Catholic Mass, as well as the classical Western Liturgies of the Anglican and Lutheran churches. It is also used in liturgy and as a form of contemplative prayer.The Agnus Dei also forms a part of the musical setting for the Mass.
As a visual motif the lamb has been most often represented since the Middle Ages as a standing haloed lamb with a foreleg cocked "holding" a pennant with a red cross on a white ground, though many other ways of representing it have been used.
The title Lamb of God for Jesus appears in the Gospel of John, with the initial proclamation: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" in John 1:29, the title reaffirmed the next day in John 1:36.The second use of the title Lamb of God takes place in the presence of the first two apostles of Jesus, who immediately follow him, address him as Rabbi with respect and later in the narrative bring others to meet him.
These two proclamations of Jesus as the Lamb of God closely bracket the Baptist's other John 1:34: "I have borne witness that this is the Son of God". From a Christological perspective, these proclamations and the descent of the Holy Spirit as a dove in John 1:32 reinforce each other to establish the divine element of the Person of Christ.In Johannine Christology the proclamation "who takes away the sin of the world" begins the unfolding of the salvific theme of the redemptive and sacrificial death of Jesus followed by his resurrection which is built upon in other proclamations such as "this is indeed the Saviour of the world" uttered by the Samaritans in John 4:42.
The Book of Revelation includes over twenty-nine references to a lion-like lamb ("slain but standing") which delivers victory in a manner reminiscent of the resurrected Christ.In the first appearance of the lamb in Revelation (5:1–7) only the lamb (which is of the tribe of Judah, and the root of David) is found worthy to take the judgment scroll from God and break the seals. The reference to the lamb in Revelation 5:6 relates it to the Seven Spirits of God which first appear in Revelation 1:4 and are associated with Jesus who holds them along with seven stars. The Lamb imagery in Revelation is counterintuitive. In Rev. 5:5, John hears from an elder about the lion of Judah who conquers, but in 5:6, what he sees is a lamb. God's Messiah does not conquer in a traditional lionlike way but by dying on the cross. "Christ is worthy because he conquers in a completely different way from the powers of this world."
In Revelation 21:14 the lamb is said to have twelve apostles.The handing of the scroll (i.e. the book containing the names of those who will be saved) to the risen lamb signifies the change in the role of the lamb. In Calvary, the lamb submitted to the will of the Father to be slain, but now is trusted with the judgment of mankind.
From the outset, the book of Revelation is presented as a "revelation of Jesus Christ" and hence the focus on the lamb as both redeemer and judge presents the dual role of Jesus: he redeems man through self-sacrifice, yet calls man to account on the day of judgment.
The concept of the Lamb of God fits well within John's "agent Christology", in which sacrifice is made as an agent of God or servant of God for the sake of eventual victory.
The theme of a sacrificial lamb which rises in victory as the Resurrected Christ was employed in early Christology. For example in 375 Saint Augustine wrote: "Why a lamb in his passion? Because he underwent death without being guilty of any iniquity. Why a lion in his passion? Because in being slain, he slew death. Why a lamb in his resurrection? Because his innocence is everlasting. Why a lion in his resurrection? Because everlasting also is his might."
The 11th century Christology of Saint Anselm of Canterbury specifically disassociates the Lamb of God from the Old Testament concept of a scapegoat, which is subjected to punishment for the sins of others without knowing it or willing it.Anselm emphasized that as Lamb of God, Jesus chose to suffer in Calvary as a sign of his full obedience to the will of the Father.
John Calvin presented the same Christological view, of "The Lamb as the agent of God", by arguing that in his trial before Pilate and while at Herod's Court Jesus could have argued for his innocence, but instead remained mostly quiet and submitted to crucifixion in obedience to the Father, for he knew his role as the Lamb of God.
In modern Eastern Orthodox Christology, Sergei Bulgakov argued that the role of Jesus as the Lamb of God was "pre-eternally" determined by the Father, before the creation of the world, by considering the scenario that it would be necessary to send The Son as an agent to redeem humanity disgraced by the fall of Adam, and that this is a sign of His love.
Multiple hypotheses about the suitable symbolism for the Lamb of God have been offered, within various Christological frameworks, ranging from the interpretation of Old Testament references to those of the Book of Revelation.One view suggests the symbolism of Leviticus 16 as scapegoat, coupled with Romans 3:21–25 for atonement, while another view draws parallels with the Paschal Lamb in Exodus 12:1–4, coupled with John 1:29–36, and yet another symbolism relies on Revelation 5:5–14 in which the lamb is viewed as a lion who destroys evil. However, as above, the view adopted by Saint Anselm and John Calvin rejects the scapegoat symbolism. They view Jesus as making a knowing sacrifice as an agent of God, unlike an unwitting scapegoat.
In modern Roman Catholic Christology, Karl Rahner has continued to elaborate on the analogy that the blood of the Lamb of God, and the water flowing from the side of Christ on Calvary, had a cleansing nature, similar to baptismal water. In this analogy, the blood of the Lamb washed away the sins of humanity in a new baptism, redeeming it from the fall of Adam.
In the Mass of the Roman Rite and also in the Eucharist of the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran Church, and the Western Rite of the Orthodox Church the Agnus Dei is the invocation to the Lamb of God sung or recited during the fraction of the Host.It is said to have been introduced into the Mass by Pope Sergius I (687–701).
Agnus Dei has been set to music by many composers, usually as part of a Mass setting.
In Christian iconography, an Agnus Dei is a visual representation of Jesus as a lamb, since the Middle Ages, usually holding a standard or banner with a cross. This normally rests on the lamb's shoulder and is held in its right foreleg. Often the cross will have a white banner suspended from it charged with a red cross (similar to St George's Cross), though the cross may also be rendered in different colors. Sometimes the lamb is shown lying atop a book with seven seals hanging from it. This is a reference to the imagery in the Book of Revelation 5:1–13, ff. Occasionally, the lamb may be depicted bleeding from the area of the heart (Cf. Revelation 5:6), symbolizing Jesus' shedding of his blood to take away the sins of the world (Cf. John 1:29, 1:36).
In Early Christian art the symbol appears very early on. Several mosaics in churches include it, some showing a row of twelve sheep representing the apostles flanking the central Agnus Dei, as in Santi Cosma e Damiano, Rome (526–30).
The Moravian Church uses an Agnus Dei as their seal with the surrounding inscription Vicit agnus noster, eum sequamur ("Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow him").
Although the depiction of Jesus as the Lamb of God is of ancient origin, it is not used in the liturgical iconography of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The reason for this is that the depictions of Jesus in the Orthodox Church are anthropomorphic rather than symbolic, as a confession of the Orthodox belief in the Incarnation of the Logos. However, there is no objection to the application of the term "Lamb of God" to Jesus. In fact, the Host used in the Orthodox Divine Liturgy is referred to as the Lamb (Greek : άμνος, romanized: amnos; Church Slavonic: Агнецъ, romanized: agnets).
A Paschal Lamb is a charge used in heraldry, for example as the crest of the Davie Baronets, and is blazoned: A paschal lambThis charge is depicted as a lamb standing with body facing towards the dexter (viewer's left), with nimbus, and with head facing forwards (or turned looking backwards to sinister, termed reguardant) holding under its right foreleg a flagpole, tipped with a small cross, resting at a diagonal angle over its shoulder, flying a banner of the Cross of St. George (except in Perth's coat of arms, where it flies a banner of the Cross of St Andrew).
In the Roman Catholic Church, an Agnus Dei is a disc of wax, stamped with an image of Jesus as a lamb bearing a cross, that is consecrated by the pope as a sacramental.These were often set in jewelry, and might be worn round the neck on a chain, or as a brooch.
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Easter, also called Pascha or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
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Agnus Dei is the Latin name under which the "Lamb of God" is honored within the Roman Catholic Mass and, by extension, other Christian liturgies descending from the Latin tradition. It is the name given to a specific prayer that occurs in these liturgies, and is the name given to the music pieces that accompany the text of this prayer.
Melito of Sardis was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in early Christianity. Melito held a foremost place in terms of Bishops in Asia due to his personal influence on Christianity and his literary works, most of which have been lost but of what has been recovered has provided a great insight into Christianity during the second century. Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed as a prophet by many of the faithful. This work by Tertullian has been lost but Jerome quotes pieces regarding Melito for the high regard in which he was held at that time. Melito is remembered for his work on developing the first Old Testament Canon. Though it cannot be determined what date he was elevated to an episcopacy, it is probable that he was bishop during the arising controversy at Laodicea in regard to the observance of Easter, which resulted in him writing his most famous work, an Apology for Christianity to Marcus Aurelius. Little is known of his life outside what works are quoted or read by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Eusebius. A letter of Polycrates of Ephesus to Pope Victor about 194 states that "Melito the eunuch [this is interpreted "the virgin" by Rufinus in his translation of Eusebius], whose whole walk was in the Holy Spirit", was buried at Sardis. His feast day is celebrated on April 1.
In Christianity, Jesus is believed to be the Son of God and in many mainstream Christian denominations, he is also believed to be the second Person in the Trinity. Christians believe that through his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, God offered humans salvation and eternal life. He is believed to be the Jewish messiah who is prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, which is called the Old Testament in Christianity. These teachings emphasize that as the Lamb of God, Jesus chose to suffer on the cross at Calvary as a sign of his obedience to the will of God, as an "agent and servant of God". Jesus died to atone for sin to make humanity right with God. Jesus' choice positions him as a man of obedience, in contrast to Adam's disobedience.
Two names and a variety of titles are used to refer to Jesus in the New Testament. In Christianity, the two names Jesus and Emmanuel that refer to Jesus in the New Testament have salvific attributes. After the crucifixion of Jesus the early Church did not simply repeat his messages, but focused on him, proclaimed him, and tried to understand and explain his message. One element of the process of understanding and proclaiming Jesus was the attribution of titles to him. Some of the titles that were gradually used in the early Church and then appeared in the New Testament were adopted from the Jewish context of the age, while others were selected to refer to, and underscore the message, mission and teachings of Jesus. In time, some of these titles gathered significant Christological significance.
Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a liturgy held in traditional Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Historically, it is during this liturgy that people are baptized and that adult catechumens are received into full communion with the Church. It is held in the hours of darkness between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Day – most commonly in the evening of Holy Saturday or midnight – and is the first celebration of Easter, days traditionally being considered to begin at sunset.
The Exsultet or Easter Proclamation, in Latin Praeconium Paschale, is a lengthy sung proclamation delivered before the paschal candle, ideally by a deacon, during the Easter Vigil in the Roman Rite of Mass. In the absence of a deacon, it may be sung by a priest or by a cantor. It is sung after a procession with the paschal candle before the beginning of the Liturgy of the Word. It is also used in Anglican and various Lutheran churches, as well as other Western Christian denominations.
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The Paschal mystery is one of the central concepts of Catholic faith relating to the history of salvation. Its main subject is the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ – the work that God the Father sent His Son to accomplish on earth. According to the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "The Paschal Mystery accomplished once for all by the redemptive death of His Son Jesus Christ." The Catechism states that in the liturgy of the Church which revolves around the seven sacraments, "it is principally His own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present."
In Christianity, the Confession of Peter refers to an episode in the New Testament in which the Apostle Peter proclaims Jesus to be the Christ. The proclamation is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 16:13-20, Mark 8:27–30 and Luke 9:18–20. Specifically, Peter declares, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Eucharist here refers to Holy Communion or the Body and Blood of Christ, which is consumed during the Catholic Mass or Eucharistic Celebration. "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood, ... a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'" As such, Eucharist is "an action of thanksgiving to God" derived from "the Jewish blessings that proclaim – especially during a meal – God's works: creation, redemption, and sanctification."
The Passover sacrifice, also known as the Paschal lamb or the Passover lamb, is the sacrifice that the Torah mandates the Israelites to ritually slaughter on the evening of Passover, and eat on the first night of the holiday with bitter herbs and matzo. According to the Torah, it was first offered on the night of the Exodus from Egypt. Although practiced by Jews in ancient times, the sacrifice is today only practiced by Samaritans at Mount Gerizim.
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Christian theology is the theology of Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and of the New Testament, as well as on Christian tradition. Christian theologians use biblical exegesis, rational analysis and argument. Theologians may undertake the study of Christian theology for a variety of reasons, such as in order to:
Intercession of Christ is the Christian belief in the continued intercession of Jesus and his advocacy on behalf of humanity, even after he left the earth.
The love of Christ is a central element of Christian belief and theology. It refers to the love of Jesus Christ for humanity, the love of Christians for Christ, and the love of Christians for others. These aspects are distinct in Christian teachings—the love for Christ is a reflection of his love for his followers.
The terms "son of God" and "son of the LORD" are found in several passages of the Old Testament. In Christianity, the title Son of God refers to the status of Jesus as the divine son of God the Father.
Long before this controversy, Ex 12 as a story of origins and its ritual expression had been firmly fixed in the Christian imagination. Though before the final decades of the second century only accessible as an exegetical tradition, already in the Pauline letters the Exodus saga is deeply involved with the celebration of bath and meal. Even here, this relationship does not suddenly appear, but represents developments in ritual narrative that must have begun at the very inception of the Christian message. Jesus of Nazareth was crucifed during Pesach-Mazzot, an event that a new covenant people of Jews and Gentiles both saw as definitive and defining. Ex 12 is thus one of the few reliable guides for tracing the synergism among ritual, text, and kerygma before the Council of Nicaea.
1.2.2. Christ as the Passover Lamb from Exodus A number of features throughout Revelation seem to correspond to Exodus 12: The connection of Lamb and Passover, a salvific effect of the Lamb's blood and the punishment of God's (and His people's) opponents from Exodus 12 may possibly be reflected within the settings of the Apocalypse. The concept of Christ as a Passover lamb is generally not unknown in NT or early Christian literature, as can for instance be seen in 1 Corinthians 5:7, 1 Peter 1:19 or Justin Martyr's writing (Dial. 111:3). In the Gospel of John, especially, this connection between Christ and Passover is made very explicit.