I see that a discussion, apparently prompted by a post of mine:
continues apace over at: www.carm.org
I’ll respond to a few comments:
One disputant says:
“I agree that [Jn 6) forshadows the cross. However, to the Catholic (and anyone who believes in the Real Presence really) the Crucifixion and the Eucharist are intimately tied together.”
But even if we agree with the intimate connection between the Crucifixion and the Eucharist, that does not amount to an exegetical argument for the sacramental reading of Jn 6.
Another disputant says:
“The real fact remains that historically, the interpretation I posted was held for centuries right from the Apostles (1 Corinthians 10:16).”
Several problems with this appeal.
i) It assumes the Catholic interpretation of 1 Cor 10:16, which begs the question.
ii) By using 1 Cor 10:16 to interpret Jn 6, this appeal takes for granted the sacramental reading of Jn 6, which also begs the question.
That 1 Cor 10:16 is talking about communion is explicit. Whether Jn 6 is talking about communion is the very point at issue.
iii) It is also dubious to use one writer to interpret another writer. Paul is not commenting on John. Indeed, it’s unlikely that Paul ever read the Fourth Gospel.
So why assume that Paul and John are talking about the same thing?
This is another example of a how a Catholic begins with his dogmas, and then casts about for some Scriptural prooftext.
The same disputant argues for a sacramental reading of Jn 6 because the verb “to eat” means “to eat,” and he quotes a number of Johannine passages in which it denotes literal consumption.
But this appeal commits the classic semantic error of failing to distinguish between sense and reference.
Yes, “to eat” means “to eat.” That’s a tautology. No one denies that.
From this is doesn’t follow that “to eat” means to literally eat.
That confuses the general meaning of a word with what it refers to.
But the particular referent isn’t supplied by the bare meaning of the word.
That’s why we can use the same word is a multitude of different settings.
Whether the verb has reference to literal or figurative consumption is context-dependent. The context supplies the concrete referent.
Once again, if the disputant spent a little time with a concordance he would quickly see that words and images of eating and drinking are often deployed as spiritual metaphors (cf. Ps 42:1; Prov 15:14; Jer 3:15; Amos 8:11; Jn 4:9-14; 7:37-39; 18:11; 1 Cor 3:1-2; Heb 5:11-14; 1 Pet 2:2; Rev 14:8-10; 16:6; 21:6).
I don’t cite this usage to interpret Jn 6, but merely to establish the possibility of this construction, and illustrate a semantic fallacy.