Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Seventh Sign, Pt. 6: The Storm-Stilling

In my last post on the subject, I showed how the Catch of Fish truly belonged on the list of the seven signs originally found in the Signs Gospel (and now found in GJn, as well as heavily redacted and edited in GMk).  We were still left with only six signs, however, since I eliminated the Raising of Lazarus as directly taken from the Signs Gospel (or SG).  Instead, that was composed by John out of elements from the Markan raising of Jairus' daughter, along with the raising of the man in what is now known as "SGM1", or the first fragment of the Secret Gospel of Mark in the Mar Saba manuscript.  Mark, for his part, based those two raisings on the original sign of the Healing of the Official's Child/Son.  In other words, the Raising of Lazarus is just a heavily-redacted, third-generation copy of the Healing of the Official's Child.   

I also promised I would eventually deal with the true identity of the remaining sign.  So, what was it?   

So far we have six signs on our list:

The Water into Wine
The Official's Child
The Paralytic
Feeding the 5000
The Blind Man
The Catch of Fish

Some scholars think (like Burton Mack, 1988) include the Water-Walking separately in the list of seven signs, while others (like Robert Fortna, 1970, 1988) include it as part of the Feeding of the 5000.  Indeed, the status of the Water-Walking as a separate sign or miracle from the Feeding of the 5000 has been questioned since Bultmann's The Gospel of John: A Commentary (1941, tr. 1971 into English).

But I don't think the Water-Walking is a sign at all, whether separate or combined with the Feeding of the 5000.  It is very little like the others.   

Let's look at the six signs we have so far, in the Johannine versions of each.  They each have a narrative parallel in the ethno-religious mythology of their era.  The first is paralleled in the Greek myth of Dionysos, and the other are paralleled in Jewish folklore of one sort or another.

Greco-Jewish Parallels to the Signs

I've previously mentioned that both Michael Turton and Neil Godfrey, following the scholarship of Thomas Brodie, have pointed out the parallels between several of Jesus' miracles and those of Elijah and especially Elisha.  But let's assume Turton is right, and that these parallels were drawn by the Markan author.  Where does that leave the original seven signs, under the assumption made by the HSH, that the Signs Gospel preceded the Markan gospel?

Let's ignore the Elijan-Elishan parallels for the moment, as later parallels drawn by Mark in composing his gospels.  Let's say that Mark, having a copy of the Signs Gospel before him, reworked those signs into a different order, and edited them to more closely resemble the miracles of Elijah and Elisha.  Are there nevertheless other, different parallels to the signs miracles?  Parallels that Mark would not have been responsible for crafting?  It turns out there are--and they can all be found in what would eventually become the Rabbinic literature, written and compiled both during and relatively soon after the Tannaitic or Mishnaic Era, i.e. the time of Jesus and early Christianity, but also the time of the composition of the Mishna, the first half of what would come to be known as the Talmud.  Many of these parallels can be found by looking up the Markan parallels to the signs in Chilton et al's  A Comparative Handbook to the Gospel of Mark (Brill, 2010), and by consulting Bultmann's History of the Synoptic Tradition, though of course other sources are available for the study of the Mishna and Talmud.  These Mishnaic-Era parallels to the six signs we have on our list so far are as follows:

The Water into Wine

Not only is this paralleled in the myth of Dionysus, but we have a kind of Jewish original in the Mishnaic/Talmudic story of Nicodemus ("Nakdimon") and the empty cisterns, which are filled with rain brought about by his prayer (Tan. 19b-20a).  Philo of Alexandria also says of the OT figure of Melchizedek "let Melchizedek instead of water offer wine, and give souls to drink straight wine" (in Legum Allegoria III).  Furthermore in the same work, Philo also likens Melchizedek to a type or representative of the divine Logos, saying of the Logos that it is "God's wine-pourer and feast-leader".  So it would seem that the SG author, knowing the Nicodemus tradition or something like it, as well as Philo's words on Melchizedek, and being familiar with the Dionysus myth, crafted a sign out of these influences, where Jesus does Nicodemus one better and turns cisterns already full of water into cisterns full of wine.  In doing so, he becomes the Jewish equal of Greek Dionysus, and also the embodiment of Philo's Melchizedek.

The Official's Child

This is paralelled in a Mishnaic/Talmudic tale of Haninah b. Dosa (Ber. 34b), who heals Gamaliel II's child from a distance after praying.  (In an alternate version, it is Johanan b. Zakkai's child.)

The Paralytic

Identified merely as "sick" in GJn, his healing resembles the Qumran document Prayer of Nabonidus, 1.2-4.1, in which a diseased man relates how he prayed to God and subsequently a "spell-caster" who was "a Jewish man" forgives his sins, apparently healing his ailment.

The Feeding of the 5000

Yom. 39a relates that in the days of Simon the Just the Showbread was blessed such that every priest who took a piece the size of an olive was filled, and left more than he took.

The Blind Man

This is paralleled in the Mishnaic/Talmudic tale found in Sot. 1:4 of the woman who spits in Rabbi Meir's eyes in a feigned effort to heal an ailment he himself was feigning.

The Catch of Fish

This one is somewhat unusual, in that there are not really any Mishnaic-Era parallels per se, but it may be thematically paralleled in Tan. 2.63, which says the Egyptians during the exodus saw the Jews enjoying a banquet amidst the waves of the Red Sea.  There is also the Testament of Zebulon in the Testaments of the Twelve Patiarchs, in which Zebulon says that after he treated the poor with charity, then "the Lord directed many fish into my nets" (T. Zeb. 6:4-6).  We have to be a little careful here, however, because these verses may be a Christian addition to the text.  Even if they are is, however, they may be from the very earliest years of Christianity (or even proto-Christian), possibly predating the Signs Gospel itself, from a time before Christianity had really separated from Judaism. 

Perhaps we should also consider the common Talmudic saying “Miracles occur, but food is rarely provided by them” (Yev. 121b, Kid. 39b, Sab. 32a, 52b).  So, in the Catch of Fish, this saying is perhaps deliberately surpassed—obeying the command of Jesus, the disciples find that food is provided by a miracle (not necessarily by Jesus in the original, but rather by God).

The Water-Walking, on the other hand, has somewhat different parallels in Greco-Jewish mythology or folklore.  There is the example of the Qumran document Hodayot 11:3-21, in which the raging sea is compared to not only death and Sheol but also the pains of childbirth: “[T]here bursts forth from the womb of the pregnant one, a wonderful counselor with his strength.  A male child is safely delivered from the crashing waves.”  Whereas the pains of those “pregnant with wickeness” are worse: “The foundations of the wall break as a ship upon the water….all their wise men are as sailors on the deeps.”  The speaker then speaks of being saved from death to “walk about on a limitless plain”.  There is also B. Bat. 73a, which says that when “the wave that sinks a ship” is “stricken with clubs on which is incised, “I am that I am, Yah, the Lord of Hosts, Amen, Amen, Selah, it will subside”, and later asks “Fear you not me? says the Lord”.

But unlike the other signs, the Water-Walking does not parallel these Mishnaic/Talmudic passages in the actions of those around Jesus; rather, it only parallels them with the actions of Jesus himself.  Nor does it parallel them in any really direct manner (as the others are all paralleled, even the Catch of Fish), but only in a highly conceptualized, symbolic manner.  True that Mark considered Jesus to be the Messiah, a "wonderful counselor", but Mark is not interested in Jesus' birth, literal or figurative.  True that Jesus will be "raised up", and here he does "walk about", but Mark is not portraying Jesus as a believer with faith in God, but rather as God himself, so the symbolism of Hodayot is not really exact here.  Nor is Mark trying to portray Jesus as a club upon which anything is written, or with which the waters are struck, despite the fact that he would identify Jesus with "the Lord of Hosts".  These different kinds of parallels are a clue that in the case of the Water-Walking, a different author than the Signs author is at work adapting Rabbinic parallels, with different goals in mind.   

And in both the Markan and the Johannine versions, Jesus alone walks on water (Matthew would only later give Peter that power), so the miracle is enacted without the participation of the disciples.  They do agree to take him into the boat, thus safely arriving at shore, but that is a separate miracle.  Nor does Jesus in either the Markan or the Johannine version of the Water-Walking give the disciples the power to still anything, whether wave or wind.  The wind only dies down in the Markan version as a result of Jesus’ decision to enter the boat.  But in all of the other signs, it is always someone else who actually performs the miracle--the steward drawing from the cistern, the official believing in Jesus, the sick man standing, the disciples feeding, the blind man washing, and the disciples fishing.

We do have a Buddhist story of the monk who walked on water when meditating on the Buddah (cited by Bultmann), but that is inexact and seems closer to the story of Peter's water-walking in GMt, not Jesus' water-walking. 

So this miracle is very unlike the above examples, all of which--even the highly philosophical Philo passage--portray the works of humans, and five out of six portray works of wonder performed by humans.

Indirect Miracles

Now notice how in each of the other six, Jesus does not actually work the miracle: 

In the Water into Wine, it is the servants who draw from the cisterns
In the Official's Child, the official returns home to discover his child well again
In the Paralytic/Sick Man, Jesus simply tells the man to get up and walk
In the Feeding of the 5000, it is the disciples who actually distribute the bread
In the Blind Man, the man is not cured until he washes himself in the pool
In the Catch of Fish, it is the disciples who catch the fish (even in the Lukan version)

Yet all of these miracles are, again, human-scale miracles, having to do with the everyday actions of human beings (feeding, fishing, healing, etc.)  The Water-Walking is very different: a dramatic, stormy, nighttime vision of Jesus' powers over the landscape itself.  And the disciples directly see Jesus working this miracle; they see the miracle happening before their very eyes.  The Water-Walking is also anomalous because it actually contains two miracles: the Water-Walking itself, and a second storm-stilling.  This gives us a hint about what the seventh sign might have originally been. 

We already eliminated the raising of Lazarus as one of the signs.  So we're still missing one, in order to complete a list of seven.  So is there another human-scale miracle, not worked by Jesus himself, and related to Jewish folklore, that we could add to the list?

I think there is, but it's hidden in GJn, and must be reconstructed somewhat anyway.  It's the original form of the Storm-Stilling.

The Storm-Stilling: The Seventh Sign

A storm-stilling would have much closer parallels in ancient literature, including Jewish literature.  We mentioned above some potential parallels between the sign of the Catch of Fish and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, specifically T.Zeb.  Just so is there a parallel between the Storm-Stilling and the same work, this time in the Testament of Naphtali (T.Naph. 6:1-10): Naphtali sees his father Jacob “standing by the sea” with his sons.  Jacob orders them aboard a ship called The Ship of Jacob, which is struck by a storm.  They lose Jacob and the boat sinks and breaks apart.  Levi prays to the Lord, the storm ceases, and the ship reaches the shore “as though at peace”.  Jacob reappears and they rejoice. 

There are even direct parallels with the Markan Storm-Stilling account:

Mk 4:37            LAILAY MEGALH ANEMOU

T. Naph 6:5b: “the ship was filled with water”
Mk 4:37: “the boat was already filling”    

T. Naph. 6:9 “the storm ceased”
Mk 4:37(=6:51b) “the wind ceased”

(See Heil, Jesus Walking on the Sea (AnBib 87), 1981, pp. 17-21.  A fragment of T.Naph. also just so happens to have been found at Qumran, just like the Prayer of Nabodnidus, which was shown above to be a parallel to the sign of the Healing of the Paralytic or sick man.)

And see also Ber. 9:1 in which a Jewish child aboard a boat of gentiles saves the boat from a storm by praying to the Jewish god. 

These storm-as-symbol parallels would apply to the Storm-Stilling much better than the Water-Walking, since it is a storm that lies at the center of their symbolism, not a water-walking. 

And the storm-stilling was also a human-scale miracle.  Very unlike the Water-Walking, in the Storm-Stilling, Jesus is with the disciples in the boat, experiencing the storm just as they are.  Nor do we see Jesus himself working the miracle; it's true that in Mark's version, he rebukes the storm, and the disciples think he commands it, but it's just as likely that the original intent was to portray God's power, not Jesus'.  Indeed, what if in the original, Jesus rebuked not the storm, but the disciples?  Then the storm-stilling would have been a kind of ironic allegory: the storm would obey Jesus, but only as a misunderstanding.  The humor here would mask a symbolic lesson: Jesus wants to still not an actual storm, but the storms within the disciples' hearts.  Another alternative might be if the "Have no fear" line was originally part of the Storm-Stilling, and it was Mark who split the elements of the original into two miracles--notice that in Mark's Storm-Stilling, Jesus asks the disciples "Why are you so afraid?", which may be a relic of the original version from Signs.  Thus, the storm would still once the disciples stilled their fears (just as the Water-Walking implies).  In either of these scenarios, Jesus would again have wrought a miracle not by commanding nature, but by addressing the people in front of him.

Recall also what we said about the Water-Walking above; it seems to include two different miracles, one a water-walking, the other a storm-stilling and/or safe deliverance.  This seems to be a indication of redaction--one of the miracles has been added to an original story about the other one.  The water-walking itself is the more fantastic, miraculous element, and that suggests that it was added to an earlier, simpler story about a storm that died down.  So it would seem that the Markan author took that earlier story, and split it (as is so characteristic of him) in two, placing one before the feeding of the 5000, and the other after, combining various other elements (like the water-walking itself) with the second one.

Johannine Redaction of the Storm-Stilling and the Water-Walking

So if the Storm-Stilling was one of the original seven signs, what happened to it in GJn?  Why would he leave it out?  It turns out that he didn't ignore it; he just blended it with the Water-Walking, recombining the two Markan versions back into a new form of the original.  There are Johannine elements to the Water-Walking that at first seem to be unique, but actually do have Markan parallels: it's just that they're parallelled in the Markan Storm-Stilling, not the Water-Walking.

The parallels between the Markan Storm-Stilling and the Johannine Water-Walking are:

--Evening comes as they embark (or before), not when they are out at sea. (Mk 4:45, Jn 6:16)

--There is "a great wind" (and "a great calm")
(recall T. Naph. ANEMOU MEGALOU)

--There is something that "arose"
Mk 4:39 [Jesus] DIEGERQEIS
Jn 6:18 [the sea] DIHGEIRETO

--There are "other...ships..."

Now notice that all of the above are also differences between the Markan Water-Walking and the Johannine one:

--In GMk/GMt, evening comes after the disciples are out at sea (Mk 6:47, Mt 13:23).
--In GMk/GMt, the wind is against the disciples, but it is not called "great" (Mk 6:48, Mt 14:24).
--In GMk/GMt, the sea does not rise, nor does anything or anyone else (not even Peter!)
--In GMk/GMt, there are no other ships.

As for the center of the Storm-Stilling miracle itself, John strikes it, because it portrays a Jesus and a symbolism he doesn't like:

--The sleeping Jesus: John strikes this line, possibly because he doesn't want Jesus to show any weakness, but perhaps also because it may not have been in the original.

--"Do you not care?": John strikes this line too, because he doesn't want Jesus to appear apathetic about the fate of the disciples.  Of course John's Jesus cares about the disciples--indeed, this is one of the themes of John's gospel.

--The storm that is stilled: John leaves out the heart of the miracle as well, because it has no symbolism he can use.  Back in Jn 3:8 he wrote "The wind blows where it wants to," with the wind representing the spirit.  So Jesus can't still the wind here in Jn 6, because that would symbolize stilling the spirit, and of course Jesus isn't going to do that--Jesus is the source of the spirit!  For John, the only meaningful symbolism in this pericope is the fear (in line with the concerns of I Jn 4:18, "Perfect love casts out fear").

Also notice that above, we showed there was a double-parallel between the Testament of Naphtali between the Markan Storm-Stilling and the Water-Walking: in all three (T. Naph., Mk 4, and Mk 6), the wind/storm is said to cease.  Now notice that there is also a parallel between T. Naph. and GJn…in the Johannine Water-Walking:

T. Naph. 6:9 “the ship reached the land”
Jn 6:21b: “the boat was at the land where they were going”

(This is also from Heil’s article.)

This seems to support the idea that both Mark and John knew a sign in which wind is stilled and a ship reaches the shore.  That sounds a lot like T. Naph. 6:1-10, but that is a storm-stilling, not a water-walking.  The fact that the parallel of a wind-stilling is present in both the Storm-Stilling and the Water-Walking suggests that Mark doubled a miracle, as is so typical of his style, and that the original miracle consisted of just this wind-stilling.  The ship in Mark’s Water-Walking is not said to reach the shore (Mark simply begins 6:53 with “When they had crossed over), but the ship in John’s Water-Walking does.  John could not have gotten this detail from GMk.  But except for this detail, he does not seem to be relying on T. Naph. at all.  John seems to be relying on a Signs source in which the ship reaches the shore, and so that sign must in turn have been related to the story in T. Naph.  But in that case, the signs was most likely a storm-stilling, not a water-walking.  

The Original Sign of the Storm-Stilling

So taking all of the above into account, I suspect we can guess what the original sign entailed:

Evening comes, and the disciples get into a boat. 
At night, there is a great storm and the sea rises. 
Jesus is asleep, and the fearful disciples wake him. 
He chides them (or else prays for deliverance).
The storm calms, and they arrive at the shore. 

Somewhere in all of this there are other ships, perhaps originally traveling with the disciples.  Those aboard those ships are subsequently surprised by the miracle.

There is no chiasm here, because that's a Markan hallmark, not a hallmark of the Signs author.

So John conflated this sign with the Markan Water-Walking.  He did it not only because he didn't like the metaphor at the heart of the Storm-Stilling (Jesus stills the wind), but also because he really liked the metaphor that Mark placed at the heart of the Water-Walking (Jesus is God).

Mark took the question the disciples ask in the Storm-Stilling, "Who is this, that the wind and the sea obey him?" (or else he invented the question in the first place), and answered it in the later Water-Walking: this is the Holy Spirit of God (for Jesus walks upon the face of the deep, just as the Spirit hovers over the face of the deep in Genesis 1:3).  While Mark did not completely identify Jesus with the spirit, his Adoptionist theology temporarily equated them--for a time, Jesus and the Spirit were one.  John really liked this metaphor, though John's Incarnationalist theology would have understood it a bit differently: Jesus walks on the face of the deep not because he is the Spirit, but because he is the Logos and Son, a second God.  At any rate, the metaphor in the Markan Water-Walking works for John, whereas the one in the Storm-Stilling didn't.  So, John dropped the center of the Storm-Stilling (even though he found it in both the Signs Gospel and original GMk), and conflated the remaining elements with the entirely Markan Water-Walking.  Thus he could feel satisfied that he'd still included all seven signs in his gospel; he just happened to augment this one a bit.

The Original Order of the Signs

So what was the original order of the signs?  To the list as it appears in in GJn:

The Water into Wine
The Official's Child
The Paralytic
Feeding the 5000
The Blind Man
The Catch of Fish

we need to add the Storm-Stilling.  We might add it after the 5000, since that's where the Water-Walking is in GJn, but the HSH suggests another location; right where it's found in GMk, since we know the Markan author used SG as a source.  That would give us:

The Water into Wine
The Official's Child
The Paralytic
The Storm-Stilling
Feeding the 5000
The Blind Man
The Catch of Fish

And we now have all seven signs.
But let's look back at the list of Rabbinic parallels.  Notice that in the Testament of Zebulon, the patriarch is said to catch many fish after he feeds the poor.  If that document served as a source for the Signs author, wouldn't that suggest that the Catch of Fish should really fall after the 5000?  It seems clearly out of order in GJn--since this appears to be one of the seven signs, it really shouldn't fall after Jesus' resurrection--it should have occurred before Jesus' resurrection.  But the HSH helps explain this--John is writing Jn 21 based on the original ending of GMk. But Mark had split this sign up, moving one half (the calling of the disciples) at the beginning of the gospel, and the other half (the seaside appearance of the risen Jesus) at the end.  So the original should have fallen before Jesus' resurrection, and a natural place for it seems to be right after the Feeding of the 5000.  This could also help explain where the Water-Walking came from: in addition to Mark's other motivations, it was a sea-related miracle intended to replace the Catch of Fish.  Perhaps it is a sly bit of humor on Mark's part: instead of catching many fish, the disciples catch Jesus!  (I also suspect the meaning of the original sign is explained by the numerology in the Johannine version: the disciples catch 153 fish, just as there are 153 occurrences of the Tetragrammaton in Genesis, the point being that the disciples will learn about God by meditating on the book of Genesis, just as the Jewish mystics did.  Mark is taking this symbolism one step further and identifying Jesus himself as the revelation of God.)

At any rate, that would give us:

The Water into Wine
The Official's Child
The Paralytic
The Storm-Stilling
Feeding the 5000
The Catch of Fish
The Blind Man

But the HSH also lets us solve another notorious problem in Johannine studies: many scholars have proposed that Jn 5 and Jn 6 were originally reversed, with many others however (Raymond Brown, for example) protesting that there is no manuscript evidence for this whatsoever.  But the HSH solves this problem: the original order was found in the Signs Gospel, not GJn.  Possibly John just felt he had to fill the narrative space left by his excision of the Storm-Stilling (even though he would re-use elements of it in the Water-Walking), and he wanted to try to split the difference between the Signs narrative and the Markan one, for in Mark's gospel, the paralytic/sick man is healed towards the beginning of the gospel, not the end.  (Mark moved it there so his narrative could parallel that of 2 Kings, and 2 Kings opens with a man who falls into a pit, but dies after asking to be healed by the wrong god.)  So assuming that scholars are correct in noticing a problem of order between Jn 5 and Jn 6, we could propose the following order of the original signs:

The Water into Wine
The Official's Child
The Storm-Stilling
Feeding the 5000
The Catch of Fish
The Paralytic/Sick Man
The Blind Man

What's interesting is that this sequence seems to form a thematic chiasm: the blind man sees Jesus and praises him, just as Jesus is revealed messianically at the wedding in Cana (by producing the wine that was expected to accompany the coming of the Messiah).  The official's sick child is healed just as the sick man is healed.  The Storm-Stilling and the Catch of fish both take place on the sea.  And the central miracle can be read eucharistically with the first and last--in the eucharist, wine and bread are produced and Jesus is remembered or mystically seen.  Could these symbolic symmetries have inspired the Markan author to produce an even more chiastic document?

Now look at them chronologically, using the narrative markers in GJn:

The Water into Wine
       [a Passover, 2:13]
The Official's Child
The Storm-Stilling
Feeding the 5000 [at Passover, 6:4]
The Catch of Fish
The Paralytic/Sick man [“a feast”, traditionally Weeks/Pentecost, 5:1]
       [a feast of Booths, 7:2]
The Blind Man
       [a feast of the Dedication, 10:22]
       [the crucifixion Passover, 12:1 etc.]

The signs remain in a chronological order.  Make of this what you will for the time being; we'll be returning to it in a later post.

The Legendary Jesus

So think about this Jesus for a minute: he performs the same miracles as the rabbis and apocryphal patriarchs did.  And he performs them not by working them himself, but by having others work them, or by appealing directly to God.  He does not travel a ritualized path from Galilee to Jerusalem; instead, he appears in arbitrary locations throughout Judea.  He most closely resembles one of the Tannaim, the rabbinic scholars and holy men of the Talmud and related texts.  The Jesus of the Signs Gospel is thoroughly Jewish.

But are the rabbis of the Talmud mythical?  One might try to make a case for this rabbi or that one, but the general assumption is that these were real personages, even if they did not perform the miracles attributed to them.  Instead, their acts of holiness were later augmented into miracles.  No one tries to argue they are legendary just because, for example, they did not appear in contemporary historical works (like those of Josephus and Tacitus).  Why should we not make the same assumptions about Jesus?  In the Signs Gospel, Jesus is not being portrayed as a god on earth.  Instead, he is portrayed as very human--a miraculous human, but a human nonetheless.  Like the rabbis, he is not quite historical, yet he is not mythical, either.  Instead, he is legendary.

And so I propose that this is the correct model for understanding the historical Jesus.  He is a legendary figure--but that does not mean he is an imaginary figure.  Indeed, it means just the opposite: it means that he was most certainly historical.  It's just that he has been surrounded by a legendary aura, like so many other historical figures.  To be sure, Jesus would eventually pick up a mythical aura, once Mark identified him with Paul's Christ and especially after the canonical redactors made sure the gospels conformed to an Incarnationalist theology.  But the rabbis of legend were not by and large imaginary; they were very real, even if many or most of the details we have about them are legendary.  Just so should we assume that the Jesus of legend is not imaginary; he was very real.  The fact that his miracles may or may not have been historical doesn't alter the historicity of his existence (because, they don't alter the historicity of the rabbis' existence).

As a final note, it's interesting to observe that the author of the Signs Gospel was very well-versed in the Jewish literature of his time, in both Greek and Hebrew, philosophical and folkloric, and was talented at writing allegorical narratives.  Could he maybe be a persona whom we already know?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. Your insight concerning the indirectness of the Signs was fresh. My understanding of Jesus Christ is deeper because of it.