Water, Bread and Light Are Three Important Symbols in John's Gospel. How Do These Symbols Help the Johannine Community to Understand the Identity of Jesus?

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Water, Bread and Light are three important symbols in John’s Gospel. How do these symbols help the Johannine community to understand the identity of Jesus? The Gospel of John addresses the Johnannine audience’s journey of faith with theological reflections on the origin and identity of the “Word”. The author uses universal symbols of the light, the bread and the water to represent the identity of Jesus to the Johnannine community, thus reinforcing a high Christology. The signs performed by Jesus also assure the readers of his divine identity and sonship. The Prologue (1:1-18) serves as introduction to the central themes of the Gospel through the “theological, philosophical and anthropological” (R. Brown) exploration of Jesus’ public ministry. The major themes explored are faith and unbelief and the identity of Jesus using the symbols of the “light” and “darkness” (1:5). The “light” is a symbol of belief and the revelation of Jesus to the world (1:9). The symbol of light is influenced by Gnostic philosophies introduced by the Hellenistic influences of the Gentile converts in the Johnannine community. The Gnostic philosophy believes in the existence of contrasting dualities to represent parallel existence of the two worlds: the spiritual and the material worlds. This symbol assures the Gentile converts that the universal symbol of light represents Jesus who had come as the salvation for the world, not just the “Jews”. The emphasis on belief is intended to address the Johnannine audience who faced hardship and persecution from the Romans and the Jewish religious leaders. The members of Johananine community were excommunicated from the synagogues due to the introduction of the benediction, birkhat ha minim that forced people to deny their Christian faith. Those who refused to deny their faith were ostracized and isolated from their Jewish faith. This made many Johannine followers question their belief in Jesus, creating a crisis of faith. The author asserts that...
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