Intertextuality: Ezekiel 36 and John 3

We grew up with the term “cross-reference”.  Some study bibles are studded liberally with cross references – some for vocabulary, others for larger concepts or ideas.  When it is felt that one biblical text is reflective of another, the term is “intertextuality.”

We were reading Walter Kaiser in his book “The Promise Plan of God”.  In his discussion of Ezekiel 36, which speaks of being washed and of getting a new heart and a new spirit, he suggests that passage explains Jesus comment in John 3:10. 

See for yourself –

Ezekiel 36:25-27
    I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. [26] And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [27] And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

John 3:5-10
    Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. [6] That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. [7] Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ [8] The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
    [9] Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” [10] Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?”

Mere similarity in vocabulary is not enough to show the connection. 

Kaiser says,

“No wonder Jesus marveled that Nicodemus did not know about the new birth and the work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:10).  As a teacher of the Jews, he should have been familiar with this passage, and therefore the teaching on this subject.”

 p. 210

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One thought on “Intertextuality: Ezekiel 36 and John 3

  1. Foound in Wikipedia-
    Aparently the term is in vogue with post-modern literary criticism. “Some examples of intertextuality in literature include:

    East of Eden (1952) by John Steinbeck: A retelling of the story of Genesis, set in the Salinas Valley of Northern California.

    Ulysses (1918) by James Joyce: A retelling of Homer’s Odyssey, set in Dublin.

    The Dead Fathers Club (2006) by Matt Haig: A retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, set in modern England.

    A Thousand Acres (1991) by Jane Smiley: A retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, set in rural Iowa.

    Perelandra (1943) by C. S. Lewis: Another retelling of the story of Genesis, also leaning on Milton’s Paradise Lost, but set on the planet Venus.”

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