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Behold Adam: A Reading of John 19:5

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

This essay offers a theological interpretation of Pilate’s famous phrase “Behold the man!” (δο νρωπος, John 19:5) in light of two proposed intertextual echoes: Genesis 3:22 and Vita Adae et Evae 13:3. Both texts feature the phrase “Behold the man/Adam.” In each case, the phrase prima facie highlights Adam’s divinity, but ironically underscores the frailty of his humanity. In John 19:5, however, the phrase “Behold the man” functions in the opposite manner. Although on the surface it highlights Jesus’ ridiculousness and misery, it ironically manifests his divine sovereignty. The essay concludes by suggesting that the Fourth Evangelist echoes the earlier phrase “Behold the man/Adam” to generate a contrast between Adam and Christ.

Affiliations: 1: University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA USA, Email:


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