In light of my friendly disagreement with Brant Pitre’s rather wave of the hand dismissal of a non-eucharistic interpretation of John 6 in his recent book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper, I want to quote J. Ramsey Michael’s (2010) new commentary on John’s Gospel:
While the eucharistic interpretation makes some sense for even the earliest readers of the Gospel ( who may have known and practiced the Lord’s Supper), it makes no sense at all in the literary setting of the discourse at Capernaum . . . More likely, the sacramental or eucharistic interpretation of the text belongs to the “reception history” of the text rather than to the Gospel writer’s intention (much less the intention of Jesus within the story!). The text should be read if possible from within the horizons of the dramatic confrontation being described at Capernaum, so as to speak both to the “the Jews” on the scene (even if it gives offense) and to Christians readers after the fact (396).
My take is: while John 6 can and perhaps even should have eucharistic resonances when seen within its canonical setting, it is most unlikely that either John or Jesus was directly teaching on the Lord’s Supper. So I have little issue with seeing the connections and perhaps even exploiting them to illuminate the meaning and significance of the Lord’s Supper. But I do take issue with Brant’s dismissal.
There are good reasons to hold a non-eucharistic interpretation of John 6.