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The Riddle of the Loaves and Baskets 2

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  • Richard Richmond
    In my last post I presented the connection of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod with the first feeding story. Five loaves divided by 5000 men
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 11, 2005
      In my last post I presented the connection of the
      leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod with
      the first feeding story. Five loaves divided by 5000
      men resulted in twelve "kosher baskets" of fragment
      leftovers, while 7 loaves divided by 4000 resulted in
      7 baskets of "fulnesses" of leftovers. When we look at
      the numbers we see that in the first feeding story the
      ratio of leftovers to loaves is different from the
      first feeding to the second.

      The opening to the passage with the riddle tells us to
      beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod.
      Leaven in bread increases the size of the loaf and
      would naturally increases the amount of the leftovers.
      Metaphorically leaven in Mark represents false
      teaching (accurately explained in the text of
      Matthew). This metaphor was employed by Paul in his
      epistle to the Galatians with respect to Jewish
      teaching that had been imposed on the converts at
      Galatia (Gal.5:1-10). In Mark the point is the two
      feeding stories are parables not miracles and that
      theY are parables about the distribution of the word
      of God as in the teaching of Jesus.

      I suggested that this warning refers to the increased
      ratio of leftovers to loaves applied by Mark to the
      first feeding story and the disobedience of the
      disciples concerning the loaves and money. The
      leftovers from the first feeding were described as
      “kosher baskets. No such designation is applied to the
      baskets in the second feeding. In the first feeding
      story according to the text of Mark, the
      disciples had bread and money that they had previously
      been forbidden to take into their missionary journey
      (6:8). They had five loaves of bread and at least two
      hundred denarii demonstrating their disobedience to
      the commission given them by Jesus. This disobedience
      of the disciples is emphasized again in that the
      disciples are talking about the fact that they had
      forgotten to take bread. Jesus question concerning why
      they are talking about the forgotten bread higlights
      the fact that they are still being disobedient to
      their original commission. This comment only makes
      sense in light of the fact that he had previously
      commanded them not to take bread. The reader knows
      that they were told not to take bread. One must
      conclude that the disciples seem to have forgotten or
      intentionally disobedy their original commission.

      Another point Mark wants is that the feeding of the
      crowds was not the giving of physical bread but
      spiritual bread. Bread the disciples were unable to
      provide when it was needed according to the first
      story. The fact that they did not recognize Jesus as
      the one loaf with them in the boat indicates that they
      are still obtuse to the spiritual bread. The
      bread in question is spiritual bread that is
      distributed by Jesus. The leaven in question is false
      teaching that is being intermingled with the spiritual
      bread resulting in a disproportionate ratio of loaves
      to kosher baskets of leftovers.

      Now we, unlike disciples in the story who fail to
      understand the riddle, have the advantage of turning
      back the clock to reread Mark's text. And we are faced
      with the all important question of how we are to tell
      the false teaching from the true teaching. The key is
      in the numbers.

      As the math demonstrates in the second feeding story
      (that showed no evidence of leaven) the number
      of loaves should equal the number of baskets. When it
      does not, we can be sure that we are the recipients
      of false teaching mixed in with the bread. Mark's
      point is really not unusual when we consider how many
      times Paul had to refute what others had said with
      respect to his teaching and his behavior as an
      apostle. It is only logical that such attempts to
      distort teaching should still be present at the time
      Mark is writing.

      Mark himself has anticipated that his document would
      be tampered with in its distribution. His document is
      Gospel and it is in his mind, Word of God from the
      spirit of Jesus. The riddle of numbers that he
      presents in this passage relate to his own document
      and the means by which readers can discern if the copy
      they have been reading has been tampered with. The
      riddle of the loaves and baskets gives the reader the
      method for determining whether or not the document he
      has is original or one that has been altered. In
      addition Mark makes the point that those doing the
      tampering will be associated with Herod and or with
      the Pharisees. (this point will eventually demonstrate
      that there is a Herod still alive when Mark was

      We should keep in mind that Pharisees can be Christian
      as well as Jewish. Acts makes the point that many of
      the Jews in Jerusalem had come to believe and
      according to Acts some of the believing Jews were
      Pharisees (Acts 15:5).

      Mark’s method for providing a means to make judgment
      as to the authenticity of a copy of his Gospel is done
      with the counting of root words. If a given word is
      suppose to appear in his document 4 times and it
      appears 6 times one would know that the document has
      been tampered with. That brings up the question: How
      would Mark get word to his audience as to which words
      were to be counted? I can only say that without any
      pre-warning I myself have been able to recognize dozen
      of these counted words and they have proved themselves
      to be important to the Gospel as a whole. There is
      also the possibility that the list of counted words
      could have been sent ahead of the documents as it
      would have been unintelligible to all but the ones
      that knew the formula existed. Counting the words upon
      the reception of the document could only be done
      orally. The one reading aloud would have needed to
      have someone catalog the words as they were read
      aloud. The script would have been continuous making a
      text-only search extremely difficult if not

      This is an ingenious method of protecting an original
      document in the first century and Mark has employed it
      with perfection. The formula for detecting forgeries
      of Mark’s text is hidden in this passage we are
      considering. It is related to the Pharisees seeking a
      sign and the reference to the leaven. Note that the
      text of Mark does not actually say that no sign will
      be given, It says “ Truly I tell you if a sign will be
      given to this generation. It is Jesus himself that
      provides the sign but it is not for the Pharisees it
      is for the readers of Mark’s text.

      When I first discovered this type of encryption in
      Mark's text I was embarrassed at how naive I had been
      to think that such measures would not have been taken
      for a document that was as important as Mark’s text
      was to him. The riddle in chapter eight holds the key
      to Mark's copy protection scheme. The warning that
      sets it up is Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees
      and the leaven of Herod. The purpose of the riddle was
      to see the leaven as the solution to the
      disproportional ratio of loaves to leftovers, five
      loaves should equal five baskets of leftovers. The
      count at the beginning should equal the count
      received "taken up". If a word sent was placed in the
      text 7 times, like the word “Christ” for example, when
      that document arrived it should still be there 7
      times. If that is not the case the text has been
      altered. Note that in the second feeding the resulting
      number represents fullness. Seven occurrences of
      Christ in the text of Mark is the completed count,
      therefore fullness.

      The controlling numbers of the count are 4, 5, 7 and
      12. We get this from the root of the numbers 5
      loaves,5000 men, 4000 people, 7 loaves and 7 baskets
      of fulnesses and finally twelve kosher baskets of
      leftovers. So we are looking for the roots of words
      that are counted, to comply with the numbers 4, 5, 7,
      and 12.

      I am sure that some people are laughing at this entire
      proposition at this point. As a trained computer
      technician, I can tell you that this method of
      encryption employed by Mark is logical and well
      thought out. It follows basic principals employed in
      modern encryption and will stand the test of scrutiny.
      I assure you it is no laughing matter. The first
      number to look at is four, we can take them in order.
      It stands to reason that if Mark is using this number
      to count the roots of words the number itself should
      comply with the count. We should expect to see the
      number four exactly four times in the text provided it
      has not been tampered with in a way that disturbs the
      number of occurrences. The root for the number four
      appears in the verses below.

      Thanks to John Lupia's observations the number four
      has been ruled out as a counted number. It does not
      appear in the riddle as a primary number like 5, 7 ,
      and 12 and it could not have been intended to appear
      in the text four times as John pointed out.
      Now lets take the number five and see how many times
      the root appears within the text of Mark. Remember if
      the number five has not been tampered with it should
      appear five times.

      RSV Mar 6:38 And he said to them, "How many loaves
      have you? Go and see." And when they had found out,
      they said, "Five, and two fish."

      RSV Mar 6:41 And taking the five loaves and the two
      fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke
      the loaves, and gave them to the disciples to set
      before the people; and he divided the two fish among
      them all.

      RSV Mar 6:44 And those who ate the loaves were five
      thousand men.

      RSV Mar 8:19 When I broke the five loaves for the five
      thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did
      you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve."

      Again we see that five like four appears excacly the
      correct number of times and in verse 8:19 it appears
      two times to complete the requirement.

      Again our search reveals the number five coincides
      with the exact number of occurrences of the Greek
      root for five.

      Now we come to the number seven lets see what the
      search for the Greek root of seven reveals:

      RSV Mar 8:5 And he asked them, "How many loaves have
      you?" They said, "Seven."

      RSV Mar 8:6 And he commanded the crowd to sit down on
      the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and having
      given thanks he broke them and gave them to
      his disciples to set before the people; and they set
      them before the crowd.

      RSV Mar 8:8 And they ate, and were satisfied; and they
      took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets

      RSV Mar 8:20 "And the seven for the four thousand, how
      many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?"
      And they said to him, "Seven."

      RSV Mar 12:20 There were seven brothers; the first
      took a wife, and when he died left no children;

      RSV Mar 12:22 and the seven left no children. Last of
      all the woman also died.

      RSV Mar 12:23 In the resurrection whose wife will she
      be? For the seven had her as wife."

      RSV Mar 16:9 Now when he rose early on the first day
      of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from
      whom he had cast out seven demons.

      a count of the root reveals that we have a total of
      nine occurrences of the root for the number seven.
      Oneof those occurrences falls in the longer ending of
      Mark which we know is not original to the text. An
      examination of the variants of Mark indicates that the
      number seven at 12:23 is redundant without purpose and
      may be spurious, but not necessarily for any malicious
      reason. It may simply have been added by looking at
      the wrong line while making the copy from the
      exemplar. Based on what we have seen with the numbers
      four and five we can say that probability favors 7
      occurrences for the root of the number seven. Now lets
      look at the number twelve.

      The next number for our consideration is perhaps the
      most critical of all. It is the number that represents
      the leaven or false teaching. It is also the number of
      the disciples that is most important to Matthew and
      Luke. It is prescribed number of men that will form
      the New Israel according to document called "the
      community rule" at Qumran. The root for the number 12
      appears a total of 15 times in the text of Mark as
      wehave it in our English bible translations. If you
      recall, this number is of particular interest to
      Matthew and Luke as it represents the leadership of
      the community approved by Jesus. It is the twelve
      disciples that are to rule over the twelve tribes of
      Israel according to the texts of Matthew and Luke.
      Mark on the other hand holds little respect for the
      twelve and paints them as obtuse to the true identity
      of Jesus and the manifestation of the spirit in Jesus.
      Because of the space needed to deal with the number
      twelve I have decided to make that a separate post to
      Synoptic L. In the next post I will also demonstrate
      how certain significant words demonstrate Mark's
      scheme of encryption Christ would be an example of one
      such word. I have cataloged dozens of words that are
      controlled by the numbers 4, 5, 7, and 12.

      The thrid post is number 13 on the new Synoptic List.

      Rick Richmond

      Rick Richmond rickr2889@...

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