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Stop Grumbling and Start Eating: Gospel Meal Meets Scriptural Spice in the Bread of Life Discourse

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

Narrating Jesus' feeding of the five thousand and his subsequent discourse on the bread of life, John creates a literary entrée with such complex flavors that the inattentive palate may fail to appreciate its more subtle seasonings. Yet, as readers develop their taste for detecting the Old Testament (OT) imagery generously sprinkled throughout John 6, they can come to savor John's unique blend of scriptural spice. Like a master chef, John de ly uses the Hebrew Scriptures to add subtle yet significant seasoning to this gospel meal. For example, in discussing the bread of life, Jesus reminds his audience of a significant OT event occurring in Numbers, the death of the Israelites who ate manna in the wilderness. The bitter flavor of this statement contrasts with Jesus' sweet promise that those who eat the true bread from heaven will have eternal life. Those in the audience with ears to hear and palates to taste apprehend that the manna and the true bread are substantially different, for only the true bread can impart eternal life.


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