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Sacramentality in the Fourth Gospel: Conflicting Interpretations

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It is remarkable that John's Gospel has no account of the Lord's Supper, nor of Jesus' own baptism. Some interpreters, among them Rudolf Bultmann, have taken this to mean that John is very much opposed to sacraments. Yet, others, such as Oscar Cullmann, try to show that John is the most sacramental gospel of all. The sixth chapter of John, being rich in symbolism, is especially important for this question. Among many conflicting interpretations of John 6, there are good reasons for preferring the approach taken by Sir Edwyn Hoskyns. Hoskyns's view is that John 6 is both christological and Eucharistic. Regardless of which interpretation we favour, in light of Jesus' prayer for unity in John 17 it is important to keep on working and praying `that they all may be one'. Even though Eucharistic unity still eludes us, discussion of sacramental themes in John's Gospel must continue. I try to make a contribution to the ecumenical study of Johannine sacramentality in three areas: (1) sacraments and the glory of the Lord, (2) sacraments and friendship with God, and (3) a sacramental imperative to feed those who suffer from hunger.

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