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Water into Wine


(1) John 2:1-11



John 2:1-11

2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2:2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 2:3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." 2:4 And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." 2:5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 2:6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 2:7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 2:8 He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. 2:9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 2:10 and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." 2:11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.





advanceWord: Epiphany 3B (CofE only) | Epiphany 2C

John Dominic Crossan

Item: 349
Stratum: II (60-80 CE)
Attestation: Single
Historicity: -


Jesus Seminar

In common with most critical scholarship, the Fellows of the Jesus Seminar considered this episode to be the creation of the evangelist, or at least the Signs Gospel. The commentary in The Acts of Jesus observes:

It is evident that the fourth evangelist is less interested in the miracle itself than in its symbolic value. In the tale of the paralytic by the pool (John 5:1-18), the cure of the lame man is told for the sake of the controversy about the sabbath. In the story of the man born blind (John 9:1-41), the miracle provides the occasion for a theological discourse on blindness and sight. The raising of Lazarus (11:1-57) anticipates the resurrection of Jesus and furnishes some of the motivation for the authorities to kill Jesus. ... In the Cana story, the replacement of the water destined for the purification rotes with good wine constitutes the symbolic miracle: the new, good wine is Christianity, which replaces the old, ineffective rites symbolized by the imperfect number six—one short of seven ... (p. 372)


Gerd Luedemann

While Luedemann [Jesus, 433ff] attributes the story to the Evangelist, he notes the following ancient parallels:

'When one struck the rock with the thyrsos, immediately a cool spring arose, and on striking the narthex on the ground, the god's sweet wine flowed out ' (Euripdes, The Maenads, 704-7). '... The priests bring three vessels to the count and set them down empty (viz. in a building) ... The next day ... they find the vessels filled with wine' (Pausanias, Description of Greece, VI 26, 1-2). However, in the Old Testament there are narratives about the transformation of water into some other matter; cf. Ex. 7.19-22 (Moses turns water into blood); Ex 15.23-25 and II Kings 2,19-22 (each time undrinkable water is transformed into drinkable water). Moreover, it should be noted that according to many Old Testament texts the time of salvation will be marked not least by an inexhaustible supply of wine (cf. e.g. Amos 9.13f; Hos. 2.24; Zech. 8.12; see also Mark 14.25).


John P. Meier

Meier discusses this epidose at some length [Marginal Jew II,934-50], before concluding:

In sum, when one adds these historical difficulties to the massive amount of Johannine literary and theological traits permeating the whole story, it is difficult to identify any "historical kernel" or "core event" that might have a claim to go back to the historical Jesus. Put another way: if we subtract from the eleven verses of the first Cana miracle every element that is likely to have come from the creative mind of John or his Johannine "school" and every element that raises historical problems, the entire pericope vanishes before our eyes. Many critics would assign the origin of the story to the Johannine "school" or "circle" lying behind the Gospel. I prefer the view that the story is a creation of the Evangelist himself, using a number of traditional themes. (p. 949)



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