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2153Re: Mark 8:19-21

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    Sep 1, 1998
      >Jan Sammer writes:
      >> ... the volume of 5 spyrides is the same as that of 12 kophinoi ...
      >Although this goes some way toward explaining the riddle, I think that your
      >analysis cannot be the whole of the story. You have left out of account:
      >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

      The fish do not figure in the riddle as posed. There are many other details
      of the feedings that are left out in the riddle. The riddle consists of two
      parallel questions, containing numerical data about loaves and two types of
      basket. Hence the solution must involve a calculation involving the number
      of loaves and volumes of the baskets. The fish play no part in the riddle as
      posed in Mk 8:19-21, where Jesus himself selects the data that are relevant.

      I may not have solved the riddle, but I certainly did address the issue,
      where most other commentators refuse to deal with the mathematics. They
      interpret the numbers as allegories of apostles, deacons, tribes of Israel.
      But that does not address the riddle at all. In terms of Mark's narrative,
      the numerical answers that Jesus extracts from the apostles have a meaning
      that explains why they should not worry about not having enough bread.

      >To me, the presence of the fish indicates that Mark has a different point
      >in mind than the one you suggest. The loaves must represent, as others have
      >speculated, the original male inner circle - the fish, the females of that
      >same inner circle. Of course we are not talking about literal bread here,
      >but about "the Word" that is brought to the multitude by those who have
      >known Yeshu.

      Sorry, Mike, but this is mere speculation. Reading the account of Feedings
      as an allegory smacks of Neo-Platonism, which similarly interpreted the
      Homeric epics. We are talking about literal bread, and Mark states
      unambiguously that Jesus broke the bread. But in 6:44 Mark carefully avoids
      saying that the multitude ate the bread that Jesus broke; the words "tous
      artous" are an interpolation. Mark only said that the crowds ate. He did not
      say what. And that's the entire point of the story.

      >When the disciples are on the boat after the second feeding, they are
      >worried that they have _only a single loaf_ with them. The one original
      >disciple who outlived the others to such an extent as to be remarkable
      >elsewhere was John. It seems to me that Mark is concerned to soothe the
      >apprehension among the "flock" brought about by the progressive dying off
      >of the first generation of disciples.
      Sorry, cannot follow you in your allegorical reading of Mark. The point of
      Jesus' rebuke to the disciples is that, having witnessed on two separate
      occasions the way that Jesus sustains his followers, have still not grasped
      that in his presence they do not need to worry about sustenance. There is no
      indication the story should be read as an allegory or a parable. The author
      of Mark’s gospel presents it as a straighforward narrative of events events
      that happened in the course of Jesus' ministry.
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