I started this mini-thread by mentioning one of the now-lost documents of early Christianity that I would love to have discovered, the alleged “Signs Source” of the Gospel of John. Before giving the evidence that there may have been some such source, I went off on a tangent, in order to show that John has a different view of Jesus’ spectacular deeds from what you find in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In these earlier Gospels, Jesus does “miracles,” both because he feels compassion for those in need and in order to illustrate his teaching that the Kingdom of God was soon to appear. In John, however, he does “signs” to prove that he really is a divine being.
So, what evidence is there that John’s accounts of Jesus’ signs derive from a previously existing, but no longer surviving, written source? The evidence does not make a slam-dunk case, and so the matter is debated among scholars. I’ve long thought, though, that there probably was some such source.
First, some basic factual information. These are the seven signs (note: seven! The perfect number, the number of God) that Jesus performs in the Gospel.
- Turning Water Into Wine (2:1-11)
- Healing the Capernaum Official’s Son (4:46-54)
- Healing the Paralytic by the Pool of Bethzatha (5:2-9)
- Feeding the 5000 (6:1-14)
- Walking on Water (6:16-21)
- Healing the Man Born Blind (9:1-12)
- Raising Lazarus from the Dead (11:1-44)ｮLM0ｯ
Jesus performs no other public miracles in John; but it is important to notice the statement near the end of the book: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the christ, the Son of God, and through believing you may have life in his name” (20:30-31).
To see the logic behind thinking that these stories come from a previously existing written source it is important to recall…
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