The Bible

Bread of Life: The Significance of Sustenance in the Gospel of John College

John the evangelist writes in such a way that certain words and phrases recur frequently and clearly stand for themes he wishes to develop over the course of his text. But in order to appreciate the significance of these themes – their meaning and development over time – the reader needs to learn how to read in an artful way. Discrete occurrences of similar words need to be gathered together and pondered as a narrative unit. In this paper, I “read” in this way John’s use of the word ἀρτος (meaning “bread”) and inquire into its significance. Admittedly, much of this is speculative, but it has great potential to be quite fruitful in interpretation regardless. Underlying John’s use of this word is a fundamental insight into the nature of salvation which the evangelist wants his careful readers to consider. In order to demonstrate this, I discuss each section where the word appears and explain its connection to the fundamental insight in question, beginning with the central passage in John 6 about the Bread of Life and then applying that to the other instances of the word in the Gospel of John.

John 6 holds the central teaching that informs this reading: Jesus’s teaching referring to himself as the Bread of Life. In John 6:22-59,...

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