LaVerdiere, Eugene. "Chapter Eight: Bread from Heaven: The Eucharist in John's Gospel." Seven: The breaking of the Bread: The Eucharist in the Acts of the Apostles."The Eucharist in the New Testament and the Early Church. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press (Pueblo), 1996, 96-111.
LaVerdiere understands John's Gospel to be based on traditions gathered and collated from sometime in the 50s until its composition in the late 90s. He therefore takes the material to reflect changes that occurred in that early community (LaVerdiere 1996, 112). Jesus is presented as the bread of life who came from heaven. This is unique among the Gospel accounts (LaVerdiere 1996, 113). The symbolic and sacramental images are unmistakable. Amid the symbols, Jesus is active, engaging in symbolic words and actions.
LaVerdiere takes the eucharist as generally being among the presuppositions made by John. His focus is more on its significance than on its existence (LaVerdiere 1996, 114). The images of blood, water, bread, and wine therefore serve as indicators of an underlying eucharistic significance. The more clear passages in John are in John 6, John 13, and John 21, where Jesus feeeds and teaches a multitude, his disciples, and specifically Peter, James, and John (LaVerdiere 1996, 115).
LaVerdiere takes John, as with Paul, the Synoptics, and Acts, to be a response to "concrete situations" here, in the Johannine community (LaVerdiere 1996, 116). However, he takes John to have developed and to reflect multiple levels of change over time (LaVerdiere 1996, 117). He discusses a number of discourses, after the Last supper, which he takes to be farewell discourses but which speak to different challenges within the life of Christians. Yet, there is a constant and enduring emphasis on Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh and who satisfies our needs (LaVerdiere 1996, 118).
LaVerdiere describes John's eucharistic theme by discussing John 6 in some detail (LaVerdiere 1996, 119ff). Christ feeds a large crowd in a miraculous act. He identifies himself as the one who gives bread, and thus life, to the people. It strikes LaVerdiere as odd that Jesus distributes the bread, but that John does not mention his breaking the bread. However, the bread is borken into fragments by the time it is cleaned up (LaVerdiere 1996, 120). Though we are not told the significance of the difference, it was told this way consciously. The apparent interruption in the narrative by Jesus' walking on water serves to describe Jesus' sovereign power. The teaching, resumed the next day, is of Jesus as the bread of life (LaVerdiere 1996, 123). He effectively emphasizes that he is the only eternal nourishment, and is essential to his disciples.