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.
In the passages that frame the second narrated sign in John, words are found that were already used in narrating the first miracle (cf. especially the geographical setting; see also the explicit reference back to the first sign with nearly identical wording and the counting of only these two signs).
Two literary forms of ring compositions can be distinguished46. First, there is the anaphoric form of the ring composition: the later passage refers back to the introductory passage after a narrative excursus or digression. Second, there is an inclusive form of the compositional technique: the introductory passage, the middle part, and the final passage should be read as one unit of thought. John 2,14,54 should be interpreted in terms of the latter form. In a literary work without the possibility of using headlines the Fourth Evangelist adopts this literary technique for indicating a narrative unit.
In searching for the narrative aim of this ring composition we observe a succession of people confronted with the revealer, his words and his doings. These persons were led to belief. The fact that the positive reaction leads from the disciples to the Samaritans to a basiliko/j could have a special significance, if this man is, as is frequently assumed, a Gentile47. In the light of the whole gospel narrative one may add Nicodemus to the list of believers in Jesus48. The conclusion of the ring composition demonstrates the deeper truth in the confession of the revealer as o( swth_r tou= ko/smou by the Samaritans (4,42); this confession is not only the climax of John 4,4ff49, but it is also the climax of the ring composition in John 2,14,54. The last miracle story of this composition testifies that by healing the Gentiles son Jesus truly is the swth_r tou= ko/smou. Like the disciples of Jesus (2,11) and the Samaritans (4,42), the Gentile member of the royal court and the members of the Gentiles house