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.
John 6 is to be read as a coherent literary unit34 or whether there is a sacramental shift in the meaning of these words in this section that cannot be understood as the work of one author35 Agreed there is a change in meaning between the feeding of the five thousand and the speech. In the feeding of the five thousand bread (6,22.214.171.124.13; see also 6,23.26) and eating are employed in their concrete meaning (6,5; see also 6,23.26); later there is a change to a metaphorical meaning: To eat (6,31.50-51) stands for getting eternal life by believing that Jesus is Gods bread of life (6,31-35.41.47-48.50-51). By being the bread of life given by God, Jesus is the mediator of life to everybody who believes in him.
Nevertheless, there is also a third meaning of to eat (trw/gw: 6,54.56-58; fagei=n: 6,52-53.58). In John 6,51c-58, the narrator refers to a concrete eating of the eucharistic bread (6,51c.58)36. It seems to be easier to understand this change as a relecture37 of the miracle