The Bread of Life Discourse as Dialogue

Charles Swift, “The Bread of Life Discourse as Dialogue” in How the New Testament Came to Be: The Thirty-fifth Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Frank F. Judd Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2006),175–189.

The Bread of Life Discourse as Dialogue

Charles Swift


Charles Swift was an assistant professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University when this was published.


As a jeweler uses different lenses to look at a diamond’s facets, we can review the Gospels using a number of techniques. We can look at the materials and sources available to the writers, how much the writings tell us about the Savior and about those for whom the Gospels were written, how interpretations of what was done or said change between when they occurred and when they were recorded, the doctrinal purposes behind what the writers chose to record, and what variations may exist among the different manuscripts. [1] Such “traditional methods of interpretation [are] more concerned with what [lies] behind NT narratives than with their form and their literary, artistic features. Although most of these methods [comprise] meticulous exegesis of NT narrative, none of them [seeks] to answer the question, ‘What artistry is there in these NT stories?’” [2] In keeping with this question of artistry, this chapter will explore how the literary structure of a dialogue contributes much to our understanding of the discourse of the Bread of Life in the sixth chapter of John.

John wrote his account of this discourse as a work of doctrinal truth that would bring readers to Christ. However, he also wrote it the way he did for a reason, and the way he wrote it can be studied effectively through a literary lens. Understanding how the literary qualities of his writing affect readers will help us appreciate the truth of what he wrote as well. And, as one scholar has written, studying these literary qualities does not mean that we view the text as fiction: “One can call attention to the gospel’s literary features because the author used standard literary conventions in order to make his gospel interesting and lively. In no way does the use of literary criticism suggest that his gospel is ‘only’ a story; but it is no less than that.” [3] Therefore, rather than considering this discourse in a historical sense or in regard to its original language, we will explore what can be seen in the text from a literary perspective.

Noted literary scholar Robert Alter writes about his study of biblical stories:

I have constantly sought to uncover through my analysis the multifaceted artistry of the biblical narratives themselves. In order to underscore the wider applicability of the approach I have put forth, let me briefly summarize the chief distinctive principles of biblical narrative that have been considered in this study. Reading, of course, is far too complex an activity to be reduced to checklists, but it may be helpful to keep certain features in mind, to ask ourselves certain questions, in order to direct the appropriate close attention on these highly laconic, finely articulated tales. Let me propose that for the purposes of synopsis we group what we have been discussing under four general rubrics: words, actions, dialogue, and narration. [4]

Since much has already been written about how particular words are used in the discourse, [5] a careful consideration of the other three literary elements can give readers of John new and helpful insights. The approach John takes in writing about this discourse (narration), the account of what is actually done by those who are part of the scriptural text (action), and the content of what is said and how the speakers interact with one another verbally (dialogue) are literary elements that help determine how we benefit from reading the text. The way in which the author chose to write his account of the discourse shapes the ways readers view the Savior’s teachings in the discourse.


John is the narrator of the discourse on the Bread of Life. We do not have the Lord’s direct account of the experience, nor the crowd’s, but we do have John’s. He matches well Alter’s observations about biblical narrators: “Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the role played by the narrator in the biblical tales is the way in which omniscience and inobtrusiveness are combined. . . . He is all-knowing and also perfectly reliable: at times he may choose to make us wonder but he never misleads us.” [6] John knows everything he needs to know in order to give us an accurate, reliable account of the discourse, but he never intrudes into the account by becoming an actor in the scene, nor does he offer commentary in the place of allowing the Lord’s words to speak for themselves.

The account of the Savior’s Bread of Life teachings is not a sermon; the Lord does not address the gathering as though He were giving a lecture to a group of people expected to sit quietly and listen. Instead, John portrays the teachings in the context of an encounter: it is a dialogue between the Savior and the crowd. Now, of course, such a dialogue is technically impossible. One can have a discussion with a member of a crowd, or even with several different members, but not with the crowd itself. The entire crowd did not say in unison, “Rabbi, when camest thou hither?” (John 6:25) or “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (verse 28). Yet that is precisely how John chooses to write about the discourse. As we can see from the following, the text indicates a discussion between the Lord and the crowd as though the crowd were one person:

They said unto him (v. 25)

Jesus answered them (v. 26)

Then said they unto him (v. 28)

Jesus answered and said unto them (v. 29)

They said therefore unto him (v. 30)

Then Jesus said unto them (v. 32)

Then said they unto him (v. 34)

And Jesus said unto them (v. 35)

And they said (v. 42)

Jesus therefore answered and said unto them (v. 43)

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying (v. 52)

Then Jesus said unto them (v. 53; emphasis added throughout)

Even when the people in the crowd are speaking among themselves and not to the Lord, John writes as though one person is speaking: “The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (verse 52). Nowhere in the text does John indicate that only one person from the crowd is addressing the Savior, nor does he portray Him as speaking to just one person.

We do not want to make the mistake of thinking there is no significance to this format for the discourse, or that John always had a group speak as though it were one person and had the Lord address the group collectively. We could look at a number of instances in John’s Gospel in which this format is not followed, but it would be most relevant to study the other events written of in chapter 6. For example, in this same chapter, once the discourse on the Bread of Life is concluded, the Lord addresses the Twelve as a group, but one person speaks from the group: “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve” (verses 67–70, emphasis added). Likewise, in this same chapter, the Savior specifically speaks to Philip and possibly to Andrew (verses 5, 10), though there are other disciples there as well, and Philip and Andrew directly speak to Him (verses 7–8).

By deciding to present the crowd as one person in this discourse with the Savior, John essentially transforms the event into a dialogue between two people. This approach simplifies the account. We readers do not need to be concerned with the crowd as individuals—we do not have to deal with disagreements among them, for example, or with differing personalities. The focus is not on group dynamics but doctrine, not on the wide spectrum of possible questions a group might ask but on the pure answers the Lord offers. Perhaps more importantly, this dialogic approach creates a more personal tone, as if the Lord were talking directly to us. The Lord is addressing us, in many ways, and John’s text calls upon us to consider how we would respond to what He is saying.


John Dominic Crossan writes that “the simplest reading of the text reveals how the predominance of Narrative in 6.1–21 gives way to the predominance of Discourse in 6.22–71.” [7] One of the dominant aspects of the Bread of Life discourse is the lack of description of any action. Obviously, something is going on during the discourse other than speaking. People are moving in a variety of ways. The Savior is most likely looking in one direction now, another later. But there is not even a word in John’s account that conveys action other than speaking. The Jews “murmured at him” (John 6:41) and “strove among themselves” (John 6:52), but still the verbs refer to speaking.

As we turn to chapter 6 for evidence of narrative action, we see that this lack of action description is unusual for John. We first read about the feeding of the five thousand. In the fifteen verses that constitute the account of the miraculous feeding, only six contain quoted dialogue. In the nine verses that constitute the account of the Savior’s walking on water and related verses, one verse contains quoted dialogue. But of the thirty-five verses relating the Bread of Life discourse, thirty-four of them include quoted dialogue. By leaving out action, John places the complete emphasis and the reader’s attention on what is being said.

Two passages of the discourse are of particular interest regarding the balance of speaking with action. John writes that the “Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?” (John 6:41–42). They do not appear to be addressing Jesus, since they speak of Him in the third person, but rather they are grumbling among themselves about what they are being taught. In the second relevant passage, John writes that the “Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52). In both of these passages, John chooses to write about the grumbling and arguing as speech rather than as actions. It would probably be more accurate to write, “The Jews argued among themselves, discussing how it could be possible to eat the flesh of Jesus,” because that most likely portrays what happened more accurately than claiming that the members of the crowd actually said the same thing. However, to write it more accurately would be to write about action rather than speech, to place—even for just a verse—emphasis on what was happening rather than on what was being said.


Alter writes that “everything in the world of biblical narrative ultimately gravitates toward dialogue. . . . As a rule, when a narrative event in the Bible seems important, the writer will render it mainly through dialogue, so the transitions from narration to dialogue provide in themselves some implicit measure of what is deemed essential, what is conceived to be ancillary or secondary to the main action.” [8] Keeping this principle in mind, it is significant that John chooses to present the experience of the Savior’s speaking with the crowd as a dialogue. We might overlook the significance, saying that because the experience was a discourse, John would have to portray it as such. However, that is actually not the case. John certainly could have made his account a narrative summary of what was said. While the other two scenes in John 6 are far from unimportant, the author’s writing of the Bread of Life discourse in such a dialogue-intensive way, for such an extended length, may indicate the level of importance he grants it in the text. For example, if we compare John’s account of the Lord walking on water (the scene immediately preceding the discourse) with Matthew’s account, we can see how little dialogue John uses in comparison to Matthew (see Matthew 14:24–33; John 6:16–21).

Alter continues his discussion of biblical dialogue by explaining that since “the very occurrence of extended dialogue should signal the need for special attentiveness as we read, there is a set of more specific questions we might ask ourselves about the way the dialogue emerges and develops.” He offers five basic questions to consider in studying biblical dialogue: (1) Is this “the first reported speech” for either of the speakers? (2) If so, “why did the writer choose this particular narrative juncture” for the speaker to “reveal himself through speech”? (3) How does the kind of speech “delineate” the speaker and “his relation to the other party to the dialogue”? (4) When do the speakers “ostensibly answer one another without truly responding to what the other person said”? (5) And when does “the dialogue break off sharply, withholding from us the rejoinder we might have expected from one of the two speakers”? [9]

First reported speech? This is obviously not the first reported speech for the Savior in the book of John, but it is the first reported of any significant length for the crowd. The only other occurrence of the crowd speaking is John 6:14: “Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” It is interesting that the only words John offers us from the crowd before the discourse will be ultimately refuted by their unwillingness to accept the Lord as the Bread of Life.

Why this narrative juncture? Once again, we need to be careful not to answer with the easiest response: “Because that’s what happened.” While it is true that the Lord actually gave the Bread of Life discourse at this particular moment in history, John did not have to use this opportunity to “reveal” the Lord “through speech.” If we were to ask why the Lord chose to speak on the Bread of Life at this specific point, one of the reasons would be that it was such a powerful teaching opportunity considering the miraculous experience the crowd had shared the day before. They had just partaken of bread provided for them in a miraculous manner; now it was time for them to partake of the Bread of Life. However, the question of dialogue does not ask why the Lord chose to speak at that moment but rather why the author would choose to give the account in the form of speech.

One result of the author’s use of speech at this specific time in the story—this “particular narrative juncture”—is the effect of the discourse on the reader. As mentioned earlier, the text becomes more than an account of a historical event—it is a dialogue between our Savior and us. As we read the first sections of John 6, we witness two remarkable miracles: the feeding of the five thousand and His walking on the water. But as we read the discourse, the author asks us to confront ourselves with the same questions the members of the crowd must ask of themselves. Are we disciples of Christ because of what we think we may gain from the discipleship? Are we seeking miracles, or are we seeking Christ? Are we like the crowd, willing to follow Christ at a safe distance and only when we stand to gain much with little required of us? Or are we willing not only to follow Him but also to allow Him to become a part of us so that we may have life in ourselves? In John 6, “the feeding of the five thousand, coupled with the discourse on Jesus as the heaven-sent bread who gives true life, again points to the unifying theme that Jesus brings life to all who come to share in his feast. This is the heart of both the message and story of the gospel.” [10]

Kind of speech? While others have written of the discourse in terms of such elements as imagery, [11] we are concerned here with the way in which the speech delineates the speaker and his relation to the other party. It is clear from the discourse that Jesus and the crowd have a particular relationship: Master Teacher to reluctant students. The great majority of the discourse is the words of the Savior, while the crowd says relatively little. Jesus speaks of doctrine, teaching who He really is and what people need to do in order to be saved, while the crowd, for the most part, asks questions. The crowd asks five questions, but, with one possible exception, the questions do not reflect a yearning to know and live the truth. One question asks when He arrived at the location, one for a sign, and two are more statements of complaint than sincere questions. Only one might be considered an honest question from someone wanting to learn—“What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (verse 28)—and, as we shall discuss later, the sincerity of that question is open to interpretation. Despite the apparent stubborn attitude of the crowd, the Lord’s tone is never harsh or defensive. He maintains a consistent tone of a teacher throughout the discourse, patiently explaining to His students what they need to know.

Answering without responding? Withholding rejoinders? The Bread of Life discourse is full of instances in which a question is asked but not directly responded to and when anticipated speech is not given. [12] The first question the crowd asks, “Rabbi, when camest thou hither?” (verse 25), is not even acknowledged in the Savior’s answer. He does not say anything about when He came but instead challenges them about their purpose for coming themselves. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (verse 26). The Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of that verse is even more revealing about what the Lord knows of His audience: “. . . not because ye desire to keep my sayings, neither because ye saw the miracles” (verse 26, emphasis added). He then teaches the crowd that they should be less concerned with working for “the meat [i.e., food] which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (verse 27). Masterfully, the Savior teaches the gathering by using the setting to help them understand the difference between what they are looking for and what they should be looking for. Their stomachs may hunger for food—as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland writes, they have “flocked to Him expecting a free lunch” [13]—but it is their spirits that should be hungering for the meat of eternal life. He wastes no time answering their unimportant question about when He got there but immediately instructs them, using symbolic language, about what they really need to know—what they should really be asking about.

The crowd’s answer is interesting and somewhat unanticipated. We might expect them to ask something such as “What is this food that endures unto everlasting life?” or “Who is this Son of man?” or “How can the Son of man give us this food that leads to everlasting life?” Instead, they say to Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (John 6:28). Whether we understand the crowd to be sincere, earnestly wanting to know what they need to do in order to do the works of God, or we think they are still focused on how they can get more food without effort, they do not seem to understand the significance of what Jesus has just said. Perhaps this is an instance in which “the symbolic function of Jesus’ actions and discourse is not understood,” giving “rise to one of the features most characteristic of the gospel, namely, the repeated misunderstandings on the part of the characters who encounter Jesus.” [14] And, according to R. Alan Culpepper, these misunderstandings have a pattern to them: “These misunderstandings may be characterized in general terms by the following elements: (1) Jesus makes a statement which is ambiguous, metaphorical, or contains a double-entendre; (2) his dialogue partner responds either in terms of the literal meaning of Jesus’ statement or by a question or protest which shows that he or she has missed the higher meaning of Jesus’ words; (3) in most instances an explanation is then offered by Jesus or (less frequently) the narrator.” [15]

As we shall see, repeatedly throughout this dialogue the crowd appears to not understand what they are being told. Often it may be that they do not want to understand.

Jesus tells them that “the work of God” is to “believe on him whom he hath sent” (verse 29). This is another example of the speaker saying something that we do not expect. The Lord’s “rejoinder” has little to do with work but is instead centered on belief. His reply is not about what the crowd of people has to do, but in whom they must believe. The crowd’s reply reveals that they are still interested in what they experienced the previous night with the miraculous feeding—they want bread without effort. “What sign shewest thou then,” they say, “that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat” (verses 30–31). They still do not understand what the Lord is trying to teach them, but it appears their ignorance is a product of their stomachs. They are trying to manipulate the conversation back to the food they want, even trying to tempt Jesus to prove God has sent Him by giving them free bread to eat. The crowd’s request is not unlike that of Satan in the wilderness when he said to the Lord, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3). Similarly, the Lord’s answer to the crowd of disciples reminds us of His answer to the tempter in the wilderness: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The Lord offers the crowd and Satan the same thing: when they seek physical bread, He instead gives them the word of God.

After the Savior explains that the “true bread from heaven” comes from the Father and “giveth life unto the world” (John 6:32–33), the crowd responds in such a way that we readers may hopefully infer that they are converted: “Lord, evermore give us this bread” (verse 34). Perhaps they are finally not asking for tangible, common bread but instead for the gift of eternal life through Christ. However, it is probable that they are still thinking of the manna they have asked about and assume that the “true bread from heaven” will feed them literally as the manna had fed their ancestors. In either case, the Lord’s lengthy answer teaches the crowd about who He actually is. “I am the bread of life,” He says, “he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. . . . For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (verses 35, 38–40).

John reports that these Jews, who just moments previous were pleading with the Lord to give them the bread of which He spoke, now murmur among themselves about how He could say He came down from heaven when they knew Him and knew of His earthly parents (see verses 41–42). “They ask the question which becomes typical of earthly, literal, superficial understanding: ‘how?’” [16] The crowd is answering without truly responding. They do not respond to the Savior’s teaching by accepting or rejecting Him as the Bread of Life, but they grumble among themselves, casting doubt on His claims. We readers are left to ask if the crowd is earnestly trying to grasp what Jesus is teaching or is purposefully closing minds and hearts to His message in a vain attempt to continue living their lives in ways that merely please themselves.

In another lengthy response, Jesus tells the crowd not to murmur and continues His discourse on the Bread of Life. This is another example of speech that does not actually answer the crowd’s question in that “Jesus never answers the question about his origins on a human plane; . . . but on a theological plane.” [17] The Lord speaks of Himself in symbolic language: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (verse 51). Again, the crowd does not respond directly to the Savior but argues among itself, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (verse 52).

Once again the members of the crowd misunderstand what Jesus is teaching. We benefit from their misunderstanding, because they “provide an opportunity to explain the meaning of Jesus’ words and develop significant themes further. They are more, however, and their effect on the reader is greater than if the meaning had merely been stated plainly from the beginning.” [18] There is also a “cumulative affect” of how the Lord responds to these misunderstandings, teaching us how to better come unto Him:

With each misunderstanding, Jesus corrects the blatant miscomprehension on the part of the character in the story. By reading the gospel from beginning to end, the reader has the benefit not only of Jesus’ correcting and explanatory words each time, but also of the cumulative affect of those various correctives. Thus with each subsequent misunderstanding, the reader learns that to hear Jesus aright one must ask about the deeper meaning that his words hold. For the true significance of what he says and offers is to be found not in some thing, but in his very presence among them. In short, the Johannine misunderstandings teach the reader how to read the gospel, for they show the reader what mistakes not to make if Jesus is to be understood correctly. [19]

Jesus does not answer the crowd’s question but continues to speak metaphorically. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. . . . As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever” (verses 53–54, 57–58). He brings the discourse back to its beginning, teaching how what He has to offer is so much more than the manna they sought.

The Discourse Concluded

It is significant to note what John tells us happens after the discourse is concluded. When Jesus sees that many in the crowd murmur about how He is asking them to do something difficult, He says: “Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. . . . Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (verses 61–65). Historically speaking, we do not know what, if anything, the crowd said in response. However, John, as author, abruptly ends his account and discussion of the Bread of Life discourse: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (verse 66). This is an example of what Alter referred to as a time when the dialogue is broken off sharply, with anticipated rejoinders withheld. Realistically, it is difficult to imagine that many in the crowd would simply walk away without saying a word, but that is the effect of the account as it is written. It is this description of action, not an account of dialogue, that reveals so much about certain disciples in the crowd.

We can learn as much from the action of the disciples who abandon Him as we do from the discourse itself. As Elder Holland explains: “In that little story is something of the danger of our day. It is that in our contemporary success and sophistication we too may walk away from the vitally crucial bread of eternal life; we may actually choose to be spiritually malnourished, willfully indulging in a kind of spiritual anorexia. Like those childish Galileans of old, we may turn up our noses when divine sustenance is placed before us.” [20]

The Lord teaches in the discourse on the Bread of Life who He is, what He does for us, and what we need to do to come to Him and have eternal life. But, in our dialogue with the Savior, we cannot afford to misunderstand what He has to say, nor should we walk away.


[1] These approaches may be called, respectively, form criticism, source criticism, historical criticism, tradition history, redaction criticism, and textual criticism. See Mark W. G. Stibbe, John as Storyteller: Narrative Criticism and the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 5.

[2] Stibbe, John as Storyteller, 5.

[3] Marianne Meye Thompson, “John,” in A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible, ed. Leland Ryken and Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993), 409.

[4] Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1981), 179. In this foundational book, Alter, as a Jewish scholar, writes of the Hebrew Bible (what we Christians call the Old Testament). However, in the spirit of the “wider applicability” he mentions, I believe the rubrics can pertain to the New Testament as well.

[5] “John 6 may well be called ‘the Grand Central Station of Johannine critical issues.’ In no other place does the same confluence of historical, literary, and theological debates come to the fore as they relate to the Gospel of John. From comparison/contrasts with Synoptic corollaries—to inferences of narrative and discourse sources—to redaction analyses—to christology, semeiology and sacramentology debates—to text disruption and rearrangement theories—to form-critical midrashic analysis—to reader-response approaches (just to mention some of the obvious critical issues), John 6 has time and again provided the locus argument for scholars wishing to make a definitive contribution to Johannine studies” (Paul N. Anderson, “The Sitz Im Leben of the Johannine Bread of Life Discourse and Its Evolving Context,” in Critical Readings of John 6, ed. R. Alan Culpepper, volume 22 of the Biblical Interpretation series [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997], 1).

[6] Alter, Art of Biblical Narrative, 183–84.

[7] John Dominic Crossan, “It Is Written: A Structuralist Analysis of John 6,” in The Gospel of John as Literature: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Perspectives, ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, volume 17 of New Testament Tools and Studies (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1993), 152.

[8] Alter, Art of Biblical Narrative, 182.

[9] Alter, Art of Biblical Narrative, 182–83.

[10] Thompson, “John,” 414.

[11] For a study centered on the words of the discourse (such as symbolism and typology) from an LDS perspective, see Thomas R. Valleta, “John’s Testimony of the Bread of Life,” in The Lord of the Gospels: The 1990 Sperry Symposium on the New Testament, ed. Bruce A. Van Orden and Brent L. Top (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1991), 173–88.

[12] For the purposes of keeping continuity in our discussion of the discourse, I will discuss both of these questions together. To discuss them separately would tend to break up the dialogue in a way that would make it difficult to follow the analysis.

[13] Jeffrey R. Holland, “He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things,” Ensign, November 1997, 65.

[14] Thompson, “John,” 418.

[15] R. Alan Culpepper, Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel: A Study in Literary Design (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), 152.

[16] Culpepper, Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel, 92.

[17] Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John, volume 29 of the Anchor Bible series (New York: Doubleday, 1966), 277.

[18] Culpepper, Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel, 152. Culpepper here is referring to the misunderstandings found throughout the book of John, but his observations certainly apply to those particularly within the discourse.

[19] Thompson, “John,” 418. Thompson, like Culpepper, is referring to the entire book, but her observation is relevant to the discourse as well.

[20] Holland, “He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things,” 65.