Lamb of God (
Although "Lamb of God " refers in Christian teachings to Jesus Christ in his role of the perfect sacrificial offering, Christological arguments dissociate the term from the Old Testament concept of a "scapegoat," which is a person or animal subject to punishment for the sins of others without knowing it or willing it. Christian doctrine holds that Jesus chose to suffer at Calvary as a sign of his full obedience to the will of his Father, as an "agent and servant of God". The Lamb of God is thus related to the Paschal Lamb of Passover, which is viewed as 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
The Lamb of God title is widely used in Christian prayers, and the Agnus Dei is used as a standard part of the Catholic Mass. It also is 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.
Gospel of John
The title Lamb of God for Jesus appears only in the
These two proclamations of Jesus as the Lamb of God closely bracket the Baptist's other proclamation in
Book of Revelation
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 theme of a sacrificial lamb which rises in victory as the Resurrected Christ was employed in early Christology, e.g. 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 Lamb of God from the Old Testament concept of an Scape goat 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, as a sign of love 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.
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 Saint Anselm and John Calvin's view reject the Scapegoat symbolism for 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.
Liturgy and music
File:Schubert-mass in g. 6. agnus dei.ogg 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).
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, amnos; Slavonic: Агнецъ, agnets).
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 blessed by the Pope as a sacramental. These were often set in jewellery, and might be worn round the neck on a chain, or as a brooch.
Brass Agnus Dei from altar-front in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Louisville, Kentucky.
Agnus Dei on the 1311 coin of King Philip IV of France.
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