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.
earthly Jesus in the colours of the exalted Christ for his present time, and he points out the actual meaning of Jesus Christ for the faith of the Johannine Christians. The miracle stories represent Jesus as the one who gives new life to the people. A twofold reaction of the reader is possible in the light of the narrated sign. There are some people who believe in Jesus or increase in christological insight and others who refuse the Johannine, christologically-qualified faith. Confronted with Gods sent Son, the people have to believe in Jesus, otherwise they will not receive the gift of eternal life and will continue to belong to the unbelieving world (cf., e.g., 5,14; 9,39-41). With the help of the compositional order of the miracle stories and the various signals to guide the reader, the Fourth Evangelist tries to lead the implied reader into making a decision for the Son of God (cf., e.g., 4,48; 6,6). Therefore, the aim of the narrative remarks inserted into text by the Fourth Evangelist is to evoke a decision in the reader. The reader may come to faith and accept Jesus for the preservation of life according to the promise. Or the reader may refuse belief and so come under judgement. The commentaries of the Fourth Evangelist update the separation that is caused by the krisis of the earthly Jesus in an existential manner for the readers of the gospel.
So the miracle stories are a further example that the Fourth Evangelist narrates his christology in more or less carefully structured scenes to evoke life-giving faith in Jesus the Son of God75. In the encounter with the Johannine narrative the reader faces Jesus and his claim that the reader should believe in him. Through the medium of the written word, Jesus and his claims are brought near to the readers at the time of the narrator and for all time. The reader is challenged to accept faith and life by believing in the narrated Jesus who is still alive in his community and has inspired the literary work76. By writing a gospel dealing with