In the Christian New Testament, the Gospel of John refers a number of times to a town called Cana of Galilee.
The Marriage at Cana
Among Christians and other students of the New Testament, Cana is best known as the place where, according to the Fourth Gospel, Jesus performed his first miracle, the turning of a large quantity of water into wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11) when the wine provided by the bridegroom had run out. None of the synoptic gospels record this event, but in John's gospel it has considerable symbolic importance: it is the first of the seven miraculous "signs" by which Jesus's divine status is attested, and around which the gospel is structured.
The story has had considerable importance in the development of Christian pastoral theology, since the facts that Jesus was invited to a wedding, attended, and used his divine power to save the celebrations from disaster, are taken as evidence of his approval for marriage and earthly celebrations, in contrast to the more austere views of Saint Paul as found, for example, in 1 Corinthians:7. A minority of modern readers have asserted that the wedding was originally Jesus' own (some among them identifying the bride as Mary Magdalene), and that an earlier account has been edited in order to suppress this fact.
Other references to Cana
The other references to Cana are in John 4:46, which mentions Jesus is visiting Cana when he is asked to heal the son of a royal official at Capernaum; and John 21:2, where it is mentioned that the apostle Nathanael (usually identified with the Bartholomew included in the synoptic gospels' lists of apostles) comes from Cana. Cana of Galilee is not mentioned in any other book of the Bible, nor in any other contemporary source.
There has been much speculation about where Cana might have been. The author of John's gospel makes no claim to have been at the wedding, and the gospel is not a reliable topographical source. Most modern Christians who are not biblical literalists would regard the story of the wedding at Cana as of theological rather than historical or topographical significance. The consensus of modern scholarship is that the Fourth Gospel was addressed to a group of Jewish Christians, and very possibly a group living in Palestine; this makes it unlikely that the evangelist would have mentioned a place that did not exist. Inevitably, there is a minority view that the gospel was written for a gentile audience, and those who take this view assert that the description in the passage about the marriage at Cana of "six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification" is specifically for a Gentile audience, who would not know the topography of Palestine. On this hypothesis the name "Cana" might have some purely symbolic significance.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1914, a tradition dating back to the 8th century identifies Cana with the modern village of Kefr' Kenna, about 7 km northeast of Nazareth. However more recent scholars have suggested alternatives, including the ruined village of Kenet-el-Jalil, about 9 km further north, and Ain Kana nearer to Nazareth and a better candidate on etymological grounds. This is not a matter on which certainty is ever likely to be achieved.
- John 2 (http://www.hope.edu/academic/religion/bandstra/BIBLE/JOH/JOH2.HTM) in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible
- Comprehensive list of online resources and references relating to John 2:1-11 (http://www.textweek.com/mkjnacts/jn2a.htm) at The Text This Week
- Entry on Cana in the Catholic Encyclopedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03226a.htm) of 1914
- Entry on Cana (http://www.ccel.org/e/easton/ebd/ebd/T0000700.html#T0000702) in Easton's Bible Dictionary of 1897
A cana was also a unit of length used in the Kingdom of Aragon.