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.
also believe in the sent Son (4,54) and they all serve as paradigms for the implied readers.
As well as the introductory ring composition the other sign stories adopted by the Evangelist show the productive relation between the use of tradition and the composition of the Gospel. The two Sabbath conflict stories which are adopted by the Evangelist John 5 and John 9 were used by the Fourth Evangelist in the account of the growing conflict with the unbelieving world that forms the unifying frame for chapters 51050. The miracle sequence of the feeding of the five thousand and the crossing of the sea was inserted in chapter 6 and got its own geographical and conflict-oriented scenario: the people who stand close to the revealer also take offence at him and the krisis is carried out in them. This leads also to John 11. In the narration of the raising of Lazarus the Evangelist connects the first part of his book with the passion narrative by pointing out that the last miracle together with the other signs is the reason for putting Jesus to death (11,47; see above I.1).
II. Observations on the Microstructure
In pursuit of his literary aim the Fourth Evangelist adapts the miracle traditions to his literary concerns in the structure of the gospel. Therefore, we can assume that he also changes the words and structure of the tradition, an assumption that is supported by modern analysis of oral tradition51. According to these theories the written text erases the form of the oral tradition. Although there may be more continuity between the oral and the written unit than is often allowed in these theories52, the question should be raised as to the ways in which the author has changed his traditions. The following steps do not attempt to give a complete analysis of the