That John 6 was intended as a self-contained unit is clearly signalled by the evangelist, who has commenced chapters 5, 6 and 7 with μετά ταûτα, a formula that marks a new beginning. Yet there has long been controversy regarding the unity and integrity of the chapter and its present place in the Gospel. In this paper it is argued that, though independent of the Synoptics, John has made use of Synoptic-like tradition and that chapter 6 provides evidence of a developing and yet unified interpretation of that tradition. The tradition was the basis of two editions of the chapter. Recognition and characterization of the tradition is an important beginning in the attempt to understand John 6. A second step is to note the signals indicating changes of time, place and audience which coincide with changes of literary genre. Changes are signalled from the crowd at Capernaum (6. 22–36) to the Jews in the synagogue at Capernaum (6. 41–59) to the disciples and ‘the twelve’ at some unspecified location (6. 60–71). There are two references to each audience in the narrative of these sections (6. 22, 24, 41, 52, 60, 66, 67, 71) and a Son of Man saying in each of Jesus' responses, to the crowd (6. 27), the Jews (6. 53), and the disciples (6. 62). Changes of genre from quest (6. 1–36) to rejection (6. 41–59 and 6. 60–66) to commendation (6. 67–71) stories confirm these divisions. There is also a transition from the emphasis on the emissary christology in the quest story to the soteriology of the rejection stories.