Hannukah as an Extra-Biblical Type of the Christ: Jesus as the True Temple Fulfills the Festival

John’s Gospel features six Jewish festivals during its account of Jesus’s ministry. One is not identified by name (5:1), three are Passover Festivals (2:13; 6:4; 11:55), one is Tabernacles (7:2), and one is Dedication (10:22). All except the Festival of Dedication, also called the Festival of Lights, originated during the days of Moses, and are authorized by the Scriptures (Lev. 23, 25), the Old Testament. Not so with Dedication. Despite this, the scholarly debate around Dedication is intriguing. Christian scholars such as D. A. Carson and William Cook contend that Dedication “is understood to be fulfilled in Jesus the Son of God” (Carson, 391). The strength of these Christian exegetes’ assertion, “Jesus fulfills Hanukah!” (Cook, 170), tends not to be matched by demonstrating how they ground their claim. What warrants their conclusion? More to the point, if John’s Gospel presents Jesus as fulfilling the Festival of Dedication, what authorizes his claim?

Unlike the other named festivals, Passover and Tabernacles, Dedication has no root in Israel’s Scripture unless one regards 1 & 2 Maccabees as Scripture, a view not accepted in Judaism. Consequently, the routine apostolic arguments for Jesus’s fulfillment of prophetic Scripture, whether by a prophet’s word or by a foreshadowing action, event, institution, or person, seem not present in John 10. However, if John the Evangelist, a key figure in the early Christian church, leads us to conclude that Jesus fulfills the Festival of Dedication, he must regard the Dedication of the Temple as a foreshadowing type of Messiah who presents himself as fulfilling and displacing the Temple. This leads us to the question: What warrants John presenting Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of the Festival of Dedication? How do the patterns concerning biblically-rooted foreshadows assist us in understanding how the extra-biblical Dedication of the Temple foreshadowed Jesus as its fulfillment?