On 9/1 Jan Sommers wrote:
>1. Why _two_ feedings? Just Markan styling? Or symbols of two missions?
I don't know, but that's the premises the riddle is working with. This
question, while interesting in itself, is irrelevant to the riddle as posed.
>2. What about the fish? (In the 1st feeding, two fish are specified. In the
>2nd story, a single brief passage mentions fish, but does not say how
No, the fish don't enter the Riddle of the Loaves. But Yes, what motivates
the Riddle is the status of two missions, one to Israel, the other to Gentiles.
The Feedings themselves employ symbolic terms. In a way they have to be
understood allegorically. The multitude fed by five loaves are being taught
Jesus' "torah." The two fish signify the Age of Pisces which had just
dawned. One has to be sensitive to the world view of people living in the
1st century, and to whom the "ages" symbolized by the zodiak signs reflected
a divine turning of events. J Caesar prided himself as an "astroliger" who
discerned the heavenly signs, and before his death spoke of the dawn of the
Today those who have learned a little astronomy know that the apparent
changes in the constelations every 2,000 years or so are due to the
Precession of the Equinoxes, a very real phenomenon occurring because Earth
wobbles on its axis like a spinning top losing its momentum, bringing a
different constelation to its ascendancy - 12 within a 26,000 year "wobble."
The ancients knew the phenomenon, but not the explanation for it.
A "kophenos" was the basket-knapsack and observant Jew wore in his travels
in which he carried his "kosher" food. A multitude of four thousand, fed by
seven "spyridoi," common market baskets, flat and large enough for Paul to
be seated in one as he was let down over the walls of Damascus, was chosen
by Mark as the symbol of a Gentile feeding. The numerical symbol of seven
signified the Noahic laws to which, in Jewish expectation, all Gentiles were
bound. No big deal. And indefinite time of ultimate "conversion" one would
Now, the Riddle itself, appearing in the Markan "chapter" in which the word
of God is shared with Gentiles (Mk.8.1-26), on the scriptural premise that
man does not live by bread alone, but by *everything which comes from the
mouht of God,* described IMO the insecurity of "the twelve" - the apostolic
church - in the face of the enormous task that lay before it. ONE
"kophinos" would be sufficient to feed the world; all that was required was
for men who had "little faith" to take it to the world - God's word would
multiply itself without human urging.
Sorry if this intrudes on our twentieth century pursuit of logical
explanations, but, Darn it all, Mark didn't LIVE in our century; he was not
hampered by the Aristotelian ethic as we are.
"Liberal" is not a dirty word;
it is a state of grace.