Michael Labahn, «Between Tradition and Literary. Art. The Use of the Miracle Tradition in the Fourth Gospel», Vol. 80 (1999) 178-203
An examination of the miracle stories in the context of the fourth gospel shows that the Evangelist, using different literary techniques, presents his tradition as an important part of his narrative. The Johannine signs are closely linked to the context and by no means subordinate to the other literary genres. By means of the signs basic reactions to the eschatological event of the coming of the Son of God are pointed out. Through the encounter with the revealer represented in the text possible readers are invited to accept him as a pledge for eternal life.
This paper is about the reception of the miracle tradition from a literary and compositional point of view. I have argued for the use of different literary techniques in the taking up miracle traditions by the Fourth Evangelist1. In using these traditions, the narrator creates different literary situations that serve different aims in the narrative whole. Sometimes, these new scenes are based on the formal structure of his tradition, but in the act of preserving this structure the author integrates the material into another narrative world. This literary creativity is in the service of a consistent hermeneutical strategy. By hearing or reading the narrative the reader is brought into contact with the narrated Jesus and with the life that he will bring according to his Fathers will. In the light of this meeting the reader is asked to believe in Jesus in order to get eternal life.
In this essay, I take up earlier observations made on the topic of the narration of the miracle stories in this gospel and combine them with my own observations to create a picture of the creativity of the Fourth Evangelist in using his tradition.