Today in my class on the Gospel of John we reached the final chapter. One detail in John 21 that has long puzzled commentators is the reference to 153 fish having been caught. Why so specific? Is there some symbolic significance to the number? If so, what is it? Some of the attempt to treat the detail as significant and meaningful have been rather bizarre.
Today, a student in my class, Jordan Burt, provided what I consider to be the definitive explanation of the detail. It is based on his own experience as someone who fishes.
Here is his explanation, precisely as he offered it in class, in his exact words to make sure that his insight is conveyed accurately:
Fishermen count their fish.
So there you have it. Scholars have been puzzling over the matter, when we should have just asked someone who fishes.
I trust that future commentaries will reflect this insight, and that Jordan will be given credit for it!