Jesus as SNOOT

“SNOOT,” in David Foster Wallace’s lexicon, stands for “Syntax Nerds of Our Time,” and Jesus shows himself to be one in his argument with the madding crowd in John 6:27-40. They demand that Jesus do another miracle to demonstrate his mission from the LORD. After all, Israel of old ate manna in the wilderness; if Jesus is truly the Prophet like Moses, surely he will do as Moses did, and furnish a table in the wilderness (Jn 6:31, cf. Jn 6:14). The crowd had quoted a Psalm at him: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat” (Jn 6:31, cf. Ps 78:24), and the pragmatic force (to use the Fregean idiom) attaching to this quotation seems to be a comparison of Jesus with Moses: Moses was sent from God, and he did x; if you’re sent from God, shouldn’t you do as well?

Jesus corrects them on a point that is as much grammatical as factual. The subject of the verb “gave” in the Psalm isn’t Moses, but rather the LORD: “Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven” (Jn 6:32). They’ve slotted Jesus into the wrong role in the little dramatic tableau he’s orchestrated; the Father, not Moses or Jesus, is the one who gives the bread, and Jesus isn’t a new Moses, but rather the true bread itself (6:32-35).

This entry was posted in David Foster Wallace, Gospel of John, Jesus, Moses, OT in the NT, Psalms and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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