To speak of the symbolic in exegesis means running into a veritable mine field. Everywhere, you are in danger of finding ‘booby traps’ liable to explode the most solid systematic constructions instantly. However, I would like to venture with you into the field of John's symbolism, since I think that it has been insufficiently explored and appreciated in the classical commentaries. If this seems a bit grandiose, I would like to attenuate my apparent pretension. I would first like to present you with a global approach to the subject and then I would like to investigate with you a few concrete examples: the sign of the temple, a saying addressed to Nicodemus and the ‘bread of life’. We shall try to see what a so-called ‘symbolic reading’ of these passages can contribute to their understanding.