Aryeh, Daniel Nii Aboagye. "The Purpose of σημεῖα and τέρατα in the Gospel of John: A Socio-Rhetorical Reading of John 4:46-54." Conspectus 32, October 2021, 110-124.
Aryeh introduces his reader to the use of "signs and wonders" to describe miracles done through Moses (Aryeh 2021, 110). The terminology was used in the Pentateuch to describe acts by which God brought his people to Canaan, then was used in the Prophets to show God's supremacy (Aryeh 2021, 111).
John 4:46-54 represents the second time John's Gospel refers to Jesus' work as a "sign." Here Jesus brings healing and life to a royal official's son (Aryeh 2021, 111). Aryet surveys several commentaries which address the fact that Jesus healed the son from a distance. He then raises the question of whether Jesus is considered a greater miracle worker than his peers in John 4:46-54, and whether that would be tied to his healing people at a distance (Aryeh 2021, 112). In Aryeh's opinion, the complementary combination of "signs and wonders" may indicate a high level of respect, particularly since normally paired words are opposite (heaven and earth, light and darkness, etc.). Aryeh attempts to use socio-rhetorical criticism to track use of the figure (Aryeh 2021, 113). While Aryeh describes what socio-rhetorical criticism is, his description does not make it clear on its face to someone who has not explored and subscribed to the tenets of the field. In sum, Aryeh is arguing that rhetoric and religion share the goal of influencing people to accept propositions. The rhetorical methods serve that purpose (Aryeh 2021, 113).
As he seeks to identify an inner rpetitive texture in John 4:46-54, Aryeh evaluates passages in the other canonical Gospels where he can detect both repetitive language and Jesus' distance from a subject of healing (Aryeh 2021, 113). He finds these in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. Aryeh considers the three passages to refer to the same event, though he concedes some scholars take them as different occasions (Aryeh 2021, 114). Aryeh finds the repetition of the location, "Cana," to indicate that the incident may have occurred in Cana, though the Synoptics, without the repeated "Cana" may have thought otherwise. Aryet describs the language used to refer to the servant (or son, as the case may be), and the resultant belief, but his description, as that of the methodology, is vague. He alleges the repetitive language is used to gain agreement from the reader, but fails to show how it does so or what the author wishes to persuade the reader of (Aryeh 2021, 115).
Aryeh posits a progression of signs in John, since Cana was the site of this healing and of the provision of wine in chapter two (Aryeh 2021, 116). He also indicates a progressive expansion in chapter four and the healing, as the subject is first referred to as "son" then as "child," which could easily expand in meaning to various listeners. Again, the healing leads to a progression, with the ruler believing, then his whole household (Aryeh 2021, 117).
The texture of the narrative can also be considered. Aryet identifies it as "mythic" in nature due to the presence of Jesus, with power to heal remotely (Aryeh 2021, 118). He goes on to describe the narrative as asserting an event in an area where many Jews lived, that it does not provide names due to a lack of interest on the part of the author, and that the narrative has a structure which is not unknown in classical rhetoric (Aryeh 2021, 119). He concludes an intent to persuade readers to believe Jesus can heal at a distance. He goes on to describe the rhetorical method as persuasive due to its having a structure (Aryeh 2021, 120). The important issue is that the official believes something he has not seen.
Aryeh concludes that the combined use of "signs and wonders" contributes to persuading the reader that Jesus was a superior healer when compared to others in his time. This conclusion is based on the fact that the author used recognizable tools of rhetoric in telling the story in John 4:46-54 (Aryeh 2021, 121).