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.
wording of the tradition and of the rewording in the gospel53. They present only some exemplary observations on the technique by which the writer modifies his traditions in order to change the point of view of his readers.
1. Context-oriented interpretation of the tradition
In different ways the miracle tradition runs into the narrative context. First of all, the already mentioned semantic lines have to be considered. The connection of tradition with a larger text by insertion into the chronological and geographical structure of the narrative whole is an important and well-known feature. Important are also the itineraries by which the narrator leads his protagonist to Jerusalem: e.g. 5,1; 7,1ff.
The literary penetration of the tradition becomes recognisable in the explicit references forward and backward in the narrative according to the technique of "anachrony"54: cf., e.g., John 4,46.56 (pa/lin) 2,1-12; 10,31-39 9,3-4 and 5,17; 11,47; 12,10-11.17 11,1-44; 11,7 10,31-33 (see also 8,59)55; 11,37 chap. 9; 11,4 is probably a proleptic hint to the reader that Jesus will do a sign56. The enumeration of the first two signs signals that these two miracle stories form the beginning and ending of a text unit in the narrative (see above I.3). Simultaneously, the keyword a)rxh/ functions as a reference to the further tale in a double sense: first, it suggests that the wine miracle is a model for the interpretation of the further signs. Secondly, it calls this miracle the beginning of the signs, the first one, which will be followed by another sign labelled as the second sign and other non-enumerated signs. As an expressed reference backward, the remark in 6,2: e)qew/roun ta_ shmei=a a$ e)poi/ei e)pi_ tw=n a)sqenou/ntwn is valid, although it is not completely clear