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 Jesus God himself comes near to human beings to mediate life. This function of Jesus is especially developed in the bread of life discourse (John 6,25bff.). The earthly signs mirror the heavenly doxa, in so far as they are a sign of the life-mediating potential of the Son of God. Whoever, by seeing the signs, comes to belief as a God-given gift (6,44), to him or her is promised eternal life. There is also the need to remain (me/nein) in this life, which is especially testified by the true vine discourse: 15,4 (see also e.g., John 8,31-32; 5,37-38). This motif of abiding is however implicitly also connected with the telling of the miracle stories (cf. John 5,14).
3. The Gospel as representation of the krisis of the One who has come to bring either life or judgement
As is shown by Jean Zumstein, the rhetorical and argumentative strategy of the whole Gospel serves the aim of awaking belief in the reader72. This idea is explicitly stressed by the final remark of the gospel, John 20,30-31. Referring to the shmei=a gegramme/na the narrator calls the reader to belief. He points to the narrated signs of the literarily presented pre-easter Jesus and he asks the post-easter reader to believe because he or she has heard or read of the works of the Son of God written down in this narration. In the light of this final remark the aim of the whole gospel is to confront the reader with the eschatological word of God in order to evoke belief and participation in the life of God mediated by the Son he has sent73.
The aim of the gospel in leading the reader to belief or in strengthening belief is also carried out by the way the miracle stories are narrated (cf. 2,11 is not only related to John 11, but also to 20,30-31)74. In these stories, the Fourth Evangelist represents the