The Gospel according to John is an amazing text for many reasons.
At the moment, what is most fascinating for me is that several people are examining this account as a literary work; whereas, with the other accounts, the focus is mostly the historical setting.
I am not saying that all of the accounts should not be seen as historical. But whether you are trying to find the theology, the history, or the literary devices within a certain work, the fact is that all of these accounts are already literary works, and both the theology and the history we are getting are coming out of these literary works. And a good, basic, beginning step is to see how these literary works are structured in a literary way.
Hopefully, eventually, we will see a literary emphasis with all the gospel accounts and especially how they work together. For the time being, we can enjoy the literary treasures that others have found within the Gospel according to John.
Currently, the writings that I am interested in are the ones of Francis J. Moloney. A recent book came out of his collected works on the Gospel according to John: Johannine Studies: 1975-2017. This is one of those books that is not for everyone, but it IS in English, and it CAN be helpful to understand a text within this gospel account.
I enjoyed the context which he gave for the Gospel text for this coming Sunday (John 1:43-51). There is a time reference at the very beginning of this text that is almost always overlooked.
In the previous two sections, they both start out the same way as this text: ‘The next day…(John 1:29, 35, 43).’ The text following this starts out differently: ‘On the third day… (2:1).’ Moloney compares this structure to that of the Exodus and the children of Israel, right before they received the Law at Mt. Sinai. There is the phrase, ‘The next day….’ at Exodus 18:13, for example, and there is also the phrase, ‘On the morning of the third day….’ at Exodus 19:16. And then the Ten Commandments are given in Exodus 20.
In this way, I think the writer tries to emphasize what he was talking about in his introduction, that while ‘the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).’
After the first ‘sign’ or miracle, when Jesus turned water into wine, the text says that he manifested his glory. This fits with the tabernacle that was built and went along with the children of Israel. The glory of God was connected to that tabernacle—and Mt. Sinai. (See Exodus 19:16; the word for ‘thick’, describing the cloud, could also mean ‘heavy’, and that is the same word as ‘glory’.) And now there is a glory that is connected to Jesus.
You could even see the whole of this account as a liturgical year—with the entire liturgy focusing on Jesus, but we can save that connection for another time.