Narrative Criticism

Process of Reading

The beginning of chapter 6 of John, the narrator begins with “after these things”. Reading chronologically, these things would be Jesus healing a lame man by the pool and a dialogue between Jesus and Jews concerning Him working on the Sabbath, leaving Jerusalem and coming up on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Rudolf Bultmann suggested that chapters 5 and 6 were originally reversed because the geographical notices in chapters 5-7 flow more smoothly when the chapters are reversed.   If Bultmann’s suggestion is followed these things would include Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman at the well, and Jesus healing an official’s son. Geographically, it would be more logical. In either case, the focus is on Jesus’ signs or miracles.
Other things that are assumed that the reader knows from outside the text is the fact that Phillip and Andrew are companions, traveling and working together. John is the only gospel to note the loaves used in the feeding of the five thousand as being barley loaves, which an equivalent to us would be white bread – poor people’s bread. The number of men present at the feeding was five thousand, not including women and children (v.10). Dr. Vernon McGee estimated at least fifteen thousand in all were present.   In verse 41, the narrator says “the Jews” began to grumble because they disagreed that Jesus was from heaven. This echoed the grumbling the Israelites did in the wilderness. This statement is also not literally the whole nation, these are the Jewish leaders. They were seeking to kill Jesus because He threatened them with his power and authority and they didn’t want to lose any power or authority over the people.  
The passage about the multitude feeding with bread (v.11-13) is a foreshadow of the bread of life discourse later in the chapter. The crowd was feed physically the first time and then Jesus explains the spiritual feeding in the discourse.  
The large crowd seen in verse 2 followed Jesus because they...