What does Jesus mean?
What is the significance of Jesus’s body becoming food and being eaten?
For many interpreters, this passage is evidence that the gospel’s author was referring to eucharistic practice. This is important because unlike Mark, Matthew, and Luke, the Gospel of John does not include the institution of the eucharist at his Last Supper event, preferring instead to focus on Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. However, many scholars find it difficult to justify such a vague and opaque allusion to the ritual rather than reading Jesus’s words in
While a good number of scholars who study the Gospel of John support a eucharistic reading, other scholars suppose that Jesus’s words in
What is the historical context for Jesus’s statement?
In the Greco-Roman world, heroic figures were thought to have a special relationship with a god who was often responsible for their death. The death of the hero is foundational for the cult that identifies the hero with the god; the cult’s rituals, including the ingestion of sacrificed meat, reinforce that identification of the hero with their patron god. The consumption of Jesus’s flesh and blood in John could be read as the literary performance of a ritual meal that participates in the ancient world’s understanding of heroic figures and their association with a god. John’s Gospel may be invoking the language of sacrificial meals to highlight its christological claims about Jesus.
- Warren, Meredith J. C. My Flesh Is Meat Indeed: A Nonsacramental Reading of John 6:51-58. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015.
- Reynolds, Benjamin, and Gabriele Boccaccini. Reading the Gospel of John’s Christology as Jewish Messianism: Royal, Prophetic, and Divine Messiahs. Leiden: Brill, 2018.
- Wills, Lawrence. The Quest for the Historical Gospel: Mark, John, and the Origins of the Gospel Genre. London: Routledge 1997.