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Re: Mark 8:19-21

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  • y.kuchinsky@utoronto.ca
    ... I suspect you re right, Mike. ... Actually the fish certainly may carry a lot of other special symbolic meanings. I would like to extend Jan s theory a
    Message 1 of 20 , Sep 1, 1998
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      On Mon, 31 Aug 1998, Mike Grondin wrote:
      > 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?
      > 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 many.)
      >
      > To me, the presence of the fish indicates that Mark has a different
      > point in mind than the one you suggest.

      I suspect you're right, Mike.

      > 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.

      Actually the fish certainly may carry a lot of other special symbolic
      meanings. I would like to extend Jan's theory a little here.

      Indeed much may hinge on these fishes...

      As Jan suggests, the bread was not eaten -- this was the cenrtal point,
      the whole crux of the matter. It was a spiritual bread. But the fish was
      probably eaten. But was it cooked? I don't think so. Why are we not
      hearing about fish being cooked in the Scriptures? A simple oversight?
      But perhaps not?

      How to explain all this? Well, my suggestion will be that Jesus, having of
      course previously gone as far East as Japan on his search of spiritual
      enlightenment, commanded his disciples to make sushi! And there was sushi
      enough to eat for all... Oh, yes, these were the wonderful days of old...

      But it wasn't just any kind of sushi... It was *magic sushi*.

      > 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.

      And this is exactly where the Magic Sushi comes in.

      You see, the one original disciple who "outlived the others" to such an
      extent as to be remarkable was none other than the author of Luke/Acts!

      How do I know it? Because he ate the magic sushi, he was able, having
      already written, according to Jan, the Book of Acts before 60 ad, to
      *Travel Forward In Time* to ca. 120 ad. And having found out what the
      needs of the Church will be in the future, he was able to write, 60 years
      later, the Gospel of Luke, i.e. Volume One of his two-part treatise (using
      in part also the Gospel of John, and the other 2 synoptics in the
      process!). So All the Up-to-date Available Information was thus factored
      in! And the ranks of the Church multiplied, and there was wonder and
      jubilation all around...

      You see, Mike? This is how historical scholarship really may work if you
      get inspired by the extremely intriguing and provocative theories of Jan &
      friends.

      Best regards in Science,

      Yuri.
    • PetersnICS@aol.com
      Jan Sammer s suggestive consideration of the feeding narratives in Mark is reminiscent of the article by Austin Farrer, Loaves and Thousands, _JTS_ (n.s.) 4
      Message 2 of 20 , Sep 1, 1998
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        Jan Sammer's suggestive consideration of the feeding narratives in Mark is
        reminiscent of the article by Austin Farrer, "Loaves and Thousands," _JTS_
        (n.s.) 4 (1953) 1–14, the substance of which is incorporated in his unjustly
        neglected _St Matthew and St Mark_, pp. 57ff.

        Jeff Peterson
        Institute for Christian Studies
        Austin, Texas, USA
        e-mail: peterson@...
      • E. Bruce Brooks
        Topic: Mark 8:19-21 From: Bruce In Philological Rebuke To: Yuri Yuri had replied to and expanded a hypothesis of Mike Grondin, viz: MIKE: 2. What about the
        Message 3 of 20 , Sep 1, 1998
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          Topic: Mark 8:19-21
          From: Bruce
          In Philological Rebuke To: Yuri

          Yuri had replied to and expanded a hypothesis of Mike Grondin, viz:

          MIKE: 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 many). To me, the presence of the fish indicates that Mark has a
          different point in mind than the one you suggest.

          YURI: I suspect you're right, Mike.

          MIKE: 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.

          YURI: Actually the fish certainly may carry a lot of other special symbolic
          meanings. . . As Jan suggests, the bread was not eaten -- this was the
          central point, the whole crux of the matter. It was a spiritual bread. But
          the fish was probably eaten. But was it cooked? I don't think so. Why are
          we not hearing about fish being cooked in the Scriptures? A simple
          oversight? But perhaps not? . . .Well, my suggestion will be that Jesus,
          having of course previously gone as far East as Japan on his search of
          spiritual enlightenment, commanded his disciples to make sushi! And there
          was sushi enough to eat for all.

          BRUCE: Surely Yuri means sashimi. Rest of argument seems OK.

          E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts
        • E. Bruce Brooks
          Topic: Mark 8:19-21 From: Bruce In Bibliographical Supplement to: Jeff Peterson JEFF: Jan Sammer s suggestive consideration of the feeding narratives in Mark
          Message 4 of 20 , Sep 1, 1998
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            Topic: Mark 8:19-21
            From: Bruce
            In Bibliographical Supplement to: Jeff Peterson

            JEFF: Jan Sammer's suggestive consideration of the feeding narratives in
            Mark is reminiscent of the article by Austin Farrer, "Loaves and
            Thousands," JTS ns 4 (1953) 1–14, the substance of which is incorporated in
            his unjustly neglected St Matthew and St Mark 57ff.

            BRUCE: Farrer's ch4 deals with "The Marcan Pattern of Loaves." Perhaps a
            summary may help those who do not have this book (and me, not having read
            it with sufficient attention previously) to keep up with the argument.

            Farrer dispenses with the fishes as symbolically extraneous: ". . . two
            fishes besides; but the fishes do not enter into the arithmetic" (p65).

            As I mentioned some time ago, Farrer builds much of his argument in this
            book around the claimed structural centrality of the [Tyrian] Woman,
            supposed to represent the Mission to the Gentiles. I have counterproposed
            that removing the Tyrian Woman from the text solves more problems than it
            creates, but manifestly it was present at some stage in the history of GMk,
            and it is fair to describe the structure of the narrative as of that stage
            (finessing the question of whether we are describing the intent of the
            author or that of the interpolator, or whether those were in fact the same
            person at different times, etc etc). In Farrer's view, the baskets of
            leftovers represent what is available for future feedings, not excluding
            the "dogs" [Gentiles] who eat the "crumbs" [leftovers] from the table of
            the children [of Israel]. He accepts the inevitable symbolism of 12 =
            Israel, both for the disciples (who, he notes, have at the beginning of the
            first feeding miracle just returned from their mission) and for the baskets
            and the leftovers they contain.

            He is concerned to show that the second miracle is not a variant of the
            first, naively accepted by a Markan conflator, but that both are
            authorially intentional, and that the first is narratively (in terms of his
            argument, symbolically) incomplete without the second, hence his emphasis
            on the sum of the loaves in the two cases (5 plus 7) being the sought-for
            complete 12 (enough, assuming miraculous multiplication, to feed all
            Israel). Farrer is clear (p67) that, after feeding the first 5,000, a
            symbolic 7,000 remain to be fed if all Israel is to be provided for. The
            second miracle only involves 4,000; I am not sure I can figure out in the
            time available to me how F resolves this. . . . on p75 he is still asking
            why the ratio in the second feeding was not 4 loaves to 4 thousand, leaving
            a final miracle of 3 loaves for 3 thousand . . .

            FedEx is at the door, and I gotta post the contents for my conferees at the
            other end of the continent; Jeff, could you complete the summary for me?
            How does Farrer deal with, or what symbolic resolution does he make of, the
            5000 plus 4000 equals 9000? Or does he? I see, by skipping ahead, that the
            end of the chapter includes the line: "We have been led to an answer which
            has not the neatness necessary for entire convincingness . . . " (p80).

            Bruce

            E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts
          • Mike Grondin
            ... Unjustly? Maybe, based on the contents, but perhaps it was the title that was off-putting. I myself tend to shy away from books that have the word St in
            Message 5 of 20 , Sep 1, 1998
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              Jeff Peterson, Institute for Christian Studies, mentions:

              >... Austin Farrer['s] ... unjustly neglected _St Matthew and St Mark_...

              Unjustly? Maybe, based on the contents, but perhaps it was the title that
              was off-putting. I myself tend to shy away from books that have the word
              'St' in the title. I take it to be a warning-flag that the author is going
              to be a mite too concerned about religious sensitivities for my liking.

              Mike G.
              ------------------------------------
              The Codex II Student Resource Center
              http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068
            • Bob Schacht
              ... I dunno. I d rather have the author s biases overt and on the table, than covert, requiring that I go to the work of figuring out his biases for myself. As
              Message 6 of 20 , Sep 1, 1998
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                At 04:11 PM 9/1/98 -0400, Mike Grondin wrote:
                >Jeff Peterson, Institute for Christian Studies, mentions:
                >
                >>... Austin Farrer['s] ... unjustly neglected _St Matthew and St Mark_...
                >
                >Unjustly? Maybe, based on the contents, but perhaps it was the title that
                >was off-putting. I myself tend to shy away from books that have the word
                >'St' in the title. I take it to be a warning-flag that the author is going
                >to be a mite too concerned about religious sensitivities for my liking.
                >
                >Mike G.
                >------------------------------------
                >The Codex II Student Resource Center
                >http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068
                >

                I dunno. I'd rather have the author's biases overt and on the table, than
                covert, requiring that I go to the work of figuring out his biases for
                myself. As for me, I can more easily deal with Austin Farrer's biases than,
                say, Burton Mack's.

                Bob
                "We all do tend to be hypercritical of the evangelists and take other
                texts at face value."
                --Stevan Davies, Wed, 14 Jan 1998 17:26:33
              • INTERPRES
                ... 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. ...
                Message 7 of 20 , Sep 1, 1998
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                  >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
                  many.)

                  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.
                • Mike Grondin
                  I take note first that Philip Lewis finds a somewhat different symbolism ... parable. ... events ... This is quite an extraordinary position to take, if I
                  Message 8 of 20 , Sep 2, 1998
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                    I take note first that Philip Lewis finds a somewhat different symbolism
                    than I do in Mark's two feeding stories, but we do agree in general that:

                    > The Feedings themselves employ symbolic terms. In a way they have to be
                    > understood allegorically.

                    But Jan Sammer opposes this general view, saying:

                    > 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
                    > that happened in the course of Jesus' ministry.

                    This is quite an extraordinary position to take, if I understand it
                    correctly. Jan seems to sharply separate Mk 8:19-21 from the two feeding
                    stories upon which that passage evidently rests. With respect to the
                    former, he wants to regard it as a mathematical puzzle with no connection
                    to the details of the stories, other than the numbers of loaves. But if the
                    numbers are not symbolic, then they might as well be some other set of
                    numbers - the mathematics will be the same, provided that the appropriate
                    relationship between the two types of "basket" are maintained. This makes
                    no sense to me. Is it just coincidence that Mark has chosen a set of
                    numbers so rich in symbolic meaning just to make a little arithmetic
                    "in-joke"? I say not.

                    Jan's position with respect to the feedings themselves is equally remarkable:

                    > 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.

                    How much subtlety and cleverness is ascribed to Mark here! On this view, he
                    must have expected his audience to grasp the importance of his (allegedly)
                    leaving out a few otherwise-insignificant words, yet at the same time to
                    recognize that all those richly-symbolic details he does furnish are
                    nothing more than "red herrings". Is this the same Mark who has trouble
                    with Greek? Is this the same simple Christian audience we have always
                    imagined reading Mark? What's wrong with this picture?

                    I don't want to put words into Jan's mouth, but he seems to be taking the
                    position that Mark's two feeding stories are largely descriptions of actual
                    events, and perhaps also that Yeshu's purported words in 8:19-21 are also a
                    description of actual events. How very far from the truth this must be is
                    beyond my capacity to explain.

                    Mike G.
                    ------------------------------------
                    Center for the Study of NH Codex II.
                    http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068
                  • INTERPRES
                    MIKE: Jan seems to sharply separate Mk 8:19-21 from the two feeding stories upon which that passage evidently rests. JAN: I beg to differ. I do no such thing.
                    Message 9 of 20 , Sep 2, 1998
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                      MIKE: Jan seems to sharply separate Mk 8:19-21 from the two feeding
                      stories upon which that passage evidently rests.
                      JAN: I beg to differ. I do no such thing.
                      MIKE: With respect to the
                      former, he wants to regard it as a mathematical puzzle with no connection
                      to the details of the stories, other than the numbers of loaves.
                      JAN: On the contrary, the puzzle is fully inherent in the stories; but the
                      meaning of the stories is derivable from a subset of the details, which are
                      presented in the puzzle. The puzzle is Jesus' reaction to the disciples’
                      obtuseness (as presented by Mark). Its intent is to extract the key elements
                      of the feedings that demonstrate their meaning .
                      MIKE: But if the
                      numbers are not symbolic, then they might as well be some other set of
                      numbers - the mathematics will be the same, provided that the appropriate
                      relationship between the two types of "basket" are maintained.
                      JAN: There's only so much bread that will fit into any particular type of
                      basket.
                      MIKE: This makes
                      no sense to me. Is it just coincidence that Mark has chosen a set of
                      numbers so rich in symbolic meaning just to make a little arithmetic
                      "in-joke"? I say not.
                      JAN: Units of measure (such as a dozen) are often "special numbers" rich in
                      symbolic meaning.
                      Besides, the Kingdom of God is no joke, at least not to the author of Mark.
                      Mark really overestimated his readers. He put in Jesus' mouth two simple
                      statements, involving measures of volume (two types of basket) and numbers
                      of loaves that fill those baskets, the solution of which is not at all
                      difficult, but his modern readers seem to think that all they have to do is
                      to invent allegories, rather than look for for a straightforward solution.
                      The solution must be sought in terms of the problem as posed:

                      "Dont' you know or understand yet?
                      Are your minds so dull?
                      You have eyes- can't you see?
                      You have ears-can't you hear?
                      Don't you remember when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand
                      people?
                      How many kophinous of leftover pieces did you take up?"
                      "Twelve," they answered
                      "And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand people," asked
                      Jesus
                      "how many spyridon of leftover pieces did you take up?"
                      "Seven, they answered."
                      "And you still don't understand?" he asked them.

                      What, according to the author of GMark, did the disciples fail to
                      understand?
                      That seven deacons were to be appointed in the mission to the Gentiles?
                      I don't think so. Mark was not so bad an author to anticipate events so
                      crassly.
                      That the gentiles were subject to the seven Noahic laws?
                      I don't think so. At least I don't see how that follows from the text.
                      The solution must be something that follows from the measures and numbers
                      given.
                      According to the author of GMark, the disciples failed to understand that
                      Jesus had fed the multitudes on something other than ordinary bread.

                      That is consistent with the Mark's presentation of the feedings and his
                      entire presentation of Jesus' mission. It is not allegorical, and it does
                      not introduce any divide between the actual feedings and Jesus' explanation
                      of them. The disciples had assumed that the crowds were fed with actual
                      bread that had somehow been miraculously multiplied. Jesus in forcing them
                      to solve the numerical puzzle, was trying to make them realize that no bread
                      was consumed by the crowds, and that the sustenance he provided was
                      something else than bread. Mark assumed that his readers would grasp the
                      solution that the disciples failed to grasp. He couldn't have anticipated
                      that his readers would go on wild goose chases and bring in 7 deacons, 7
                      Noahic laws, 7 pillars of wisdom, the 7 dwarves, or whatnot. Mark didn't
                      expect his readers to be brilliant, but he did expect them to read for
                      meaning.

                      MIKE: Jan's position with respect to the feedings themselves is equally
                      remarkable:
                      (quoting JAN:)
                      > 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.

                      MIKE: How much subtlety and cleverness is ascribed to Mark here! On this
                      view, he
                      must have expected his audience to grasp the importance of his (allegedly)
                      leaving out a few otherwise-insignificant words, yet at the same time to
                      recognize that all those richly-symbolic details he does furnish are
                      nothing more than "red herrings".

                      JAN: Mark's readers were not expected to grasp the meaning of the feedings
                      from the omission of "tous artous"; the only point I was making is that
                      "tous artous" is a recognized interpolation and as such is consistent with
                      my hypothesis. Mark's audience is supposed to grasp the meaning of the
                      feedings on the basis of some of the strongest language in all of the NT.
                      The translation I used tones down the intensity of the abuse heaped on the
                      disciples by Jesus. Mark has Jesus excoriate the disciples, telling them
                      that their brains have turned to stone (pepwrwmenhn exete thn kardian hymwn)
                      , for failing to understand the meaning of the feedings, which he then goes
                      on to summarize in the cited syllogism.

                      MIKE: Is this the same Mark who has trouble
                      with Greek? Is this the same simple Christian audience we have always
                      imagined reading Mark? What's wrong with this picture?


                      JAN: Does Mark have trouble with Greek? The Latinisms and other oddities of
                      Mark's Greek are an indication of Mark's milieu, not of his lack of
                      education or intelligence. As I said, Mark definitely overestimated his
                      latter-day readers. I bet the simple Christian audience for which Mark wrote
                      could count their loaves and baskets.

                      MIKE: I don't want to put words into Jan's mouth, but he seems to be taking
                      the
                      position that Mark's two feeding stories are largely descriptions of actual
                      events, and perhaps also that Yeshu's purported words in 8:19-21 are also a
                      description of actual events. How very far from the truth this must be is
                      beyond my capacity to explain.


                      JAN: Just how that follows from my statement : "The author
                      of Mark’s gospel presents it as a straighforward narrative of events
                      that happened in the course of Jesus' ministry" is a mystery to me.
                      Let me try to make myself clear:
                      Mark presents an account of the course of Jesus' ministry. He also presents
                      Jesus as making allegorical statements (parables). That is where I would
                      like to draw the sharp line. The accounts of the feedings are not parables
                      and they cannot therefore be interpreted allegorically. Things that can be
                      interpreted allegorically are things such as the seed sowed by the Sower,
                      On the contrary, the feedings are descriptions of purported historical
                      events. For the record, I do not believe that Mark's account of Jesus'
                      ministry is historically accurate. In fact, I regard it as highly
                      tendentious, with not much historical data discernible. What we can and
                      ought to do is to analyze its internal logic, as we would in dealing with
                      any other work of literature. We should ask, What clues did the author give
                      us with respect to the solution of the puzzle he poses? All the clues are
                      present in Mk 8:20 and they do not logically lead to seven deacons or seven
                      Noahic laws. They do logically lead to the conclusion that no bread was
                      consumed in the feedings, a realization that should have occasioned much
                      wonderment among the disciples

                      Regards,

                      Jan
                    • PetersnICS@aol.com
                      ... The hurrieder I go the behinder I get, but I ll try to comply with Bruce s request tomorrow morning, if he hasn t returned to complete the summary by then.
                      Message 10 of 20 , Sep 2, 1998
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                        In a message dated 9/1/98 5:25:11 PM, Bruce Brooks wrote:

                        >Jeff, could you complete the summary for me?
                        >
                        >How does Farrer deal with, or what symbolic resolution does he make of, the
                        >
                        >5000 plus 4000 equals 9000? Or does he? I see, by skipping ahead, that the
                        >
                        >end of the chapter includes the line: "We have been led to an answer which
                        >
                        >has not the neatness necessary for entire convincingness . . . "

                        The hurrieder I go the behinder I get, but I'll try to comply with Bruce's
                        request tomorrow morning, if he hasn't returned to complete the summary by
                        then. In the meantime, if my presence on CrossTalk has encouraged only one
                        closer reading of _St Matthew and St Mark_ than the book has previously
                        received, I'll consider it time not spent in vain.

                        Jeff Peterson
                        Institute for Christian Studies
                        Austin, TX, USA
                        e-mail: peterson@...
                      • Mike Grondin
                        ... Thanks for sharpening the debate, Jan. I could hardly disagree more than I do with the above statement. I can understand your frustration at the seeming
                        Message 11 of 20 , Sep 3, 1998
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                          Jan Sammer writes:

                          >... the meaning of the [feeding] stories is derivable from a subset of the
                          > details, which are presented in the puzzle. The puzzle...['s] intent is to
                          > extract the key elements of the feedings that demonstrate their meaning.

                          Thanks for sharpening the debate, Jan. I could hardly disagree more than I do with the above statement. I can understand your frustration at the seeming impossibility of judging between various sets of proposed symbolic meanings for the two feeding stories, and I take your point that we tend to find meaning when we look for it, yet I think that these considerations are not strong enough to deny altogether the rather obvious Jewish-Gentile contrast evident in the two stories.

                          Take the matter of the "baskets" for example. Your position, as I take it, is that it's the _size_ of the "baskets" that's important. I would say that it's the _type_ of "basket" (i.e., Jewish vs Gentile). In defense of your proposition, you have put forward the following claim:

                          > [Mark's reader] must have known that a spyris is fashioned so as to
                          > carry a single loaf of bread, and that the volume of 5 spyrides is
                          > the same as that of 12 kophinoi.

                          Since much depends on whether this claim is true, I now want to ask for your source. My bet is that this is an "invented fact", which you (or someone else) thinks could be approximately true, and which provides a tidy way of resolving the puzzle. But I cannot imagine any system of measurement wherein a specific number of Jewish kosher "knapsacks" is made to be equivalent to a specific number of market-baskets. In fact, on your own account (above), the numbers don't work out at all. Please explain.

                          As I understand it, you suggest the following exegetical principle: any details of a story not mentioned in Yeshu's "follow-up" statement cannot be important to the meaning of the story. This principle would result, for example, in saying that in the cursing of the fig tree, the fact that it is a _fig tree_ and that it is a _cursing_ has no symbolic meaning, since Yeshu is not made to mention those "details" in his follow-up statement at 11:22-25. Is this really a result that you want?

                          Let me also widen the scope of this discussion slightly, to include the mention of the "leaven" of the Pharisees and Herodians at 8:15. The intertwining of these passages indicates to me that Mark is contrasting their "leaven" with Yeshu's, and that indeed the symbolism of the feedings _does_ include the "multiplying" of loaves and fishes, which is something your analysis denies.

                          Finally (since I have little time to write this morning), I would like to put forward the proposition that a hypothesis cannot be adequate if it does not account for all the known facts. To deny that the specific mention of _males_ and kosher "knapsacks" in the story of the feeding of the 5000 is intended to point to a specifically Jewish event/mission seems to me to be indefensible.

                          Regards,
                          Mike
                          ------------------------------------
                          Center for the Study of NH Codex II.
                          http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068
                        • INTERPRES
                          MIKE GRONDIN ... to ... do with the above statement. I can understand your frustration at the seeming impossibility of judging between various sets of proposed
                          Message 12 of 20 , Sep 5, 1998
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                            MIKE GRONDIN
                            Jan Sammer writes:
                            >
                            >>... the meaning of the [feeding] stories is derivable from a subset of the
                            >> details, which are presented in the puzzle. The puzzle...['s] intent is
                            to
                            >> extract the key elements of the feedings that demonstrate their meaning.
                            >
                            >Thanks for sharpening the debate, Jan. I could hardly disagree more than I
                            do with the above statement. I can understand your frustration at the
                            seeming impossibility of judging between various sets of proposed symbolic
                            meanings for the two feeding stories, and I take your point that we tend to
                            find meaning when we look for it, yet I think that these considerations are
                            not strong enough to deny altogether the rather obvious Jewish-Gentile
                            contrast evident in the two stories.

                            JAN: The element of Jewish-Gentile contrast may be there, but that does not
                            imply that the Feedings are to be read as allegories of the mission to the
                            Jews and the mission to the Gentiles. The Feedings are a most powerful
                            prefiguration of the Kingdom of God, where the monarch of the new age
                            provides for his flock (refer also to Plato's Politicus, or The Statesman).
                            In GJohn the incident of the feeding is immediately followed by the crowds'
                            attempt to make Jesus a king. In this prefiguration Jesus condemns those who
                            try to rely on their own devices, and the pitiful amount of sustenance that
                            they have brought along only signifies their dependence on divine grace.
                            Mark portrays Jesus as being increasingly frustrated with the fact that the
                            disciples do not grasp the simple fact that in the dawning kingdom the
                            divine shepherd will provide for all their needs. Perhaps he's also
                            suggesting that Jews and Gentiles alike will be provided for.

                            MIKE:
                            >Take the matter of the "baskets" for example. Your position, as I take it,
                            is that it's the _size_ of the "baskets" that's important. I would say that
                            it's the _type_ of "basket" (i.e., Jewish vs Gentile). In defense of your
                            proposition, you have put forward the following claim:
                            >
                            >> [Mark's reader] must have known that a spyris is fashioned so as to
                            >> carry a single loaf of bread, and that the volume of 5 spyrides is
                            >> the same as that of 12 kophinoi.
                            >
                            >Since much depends on whether this claim is true, I now want to ask for
                            your source. My bet is that this is an "invented fact", which you (or
                            someone else) thinks could be approximately true, and which provides a tidy
                            way of resolving the puzzle.

                            JAN:
                            Congratulations! The fact that you have challenged me on this point means
                            that (unlike others in the past) you have grasped the argument I tried to
                            present. I freely admit that the 5:12 relation between kophinos and spyris
                            is derived from the text of Mark 8:19-21. I have made some effort at
                            determining whether it is in fact supported by independent evidence, thus
                            far unsuccessfully. Please note, that your position that the TYPE of basket
                            is important is perfectly compatible with my position that the SIZE of
                            basket is important.

                            MIKE:
                            But I cannot imagine any system of measurement wherein a specific number of
                            Jewish kosher "knapsacks" is made to be equivalent to a specific number of
                            market-baskets. In fact, on your own account (above), the numbers don't work
                            out at all. Please explain.

                            JAN:
                            The kophinos and spyris were apparently units of measure, akin to our
                            bushel, also originally a type of basket. Mark's readers would not have to
                            be told how many kophinoi there are to a spyris, just as we do not have to
                            be told how many quarts there are to a gallon, or how many inches to a foot.
                            And why do you say the numbers don't work out? If seven loaves were broken
                            into pieces and collected in seven spyrides, then five loaves would fill
                            five spyrides. Since (ex hypothese) five spyrides equal 12 kophinoi, the
                            mathematics works out
                            perfectly. It may well be that the kophinos was a sexagesimal measure and
                            the spyris a decimal one. Compare the story of Aqihar, which largely hinges
                            on the relation of sexagesimal to decimal measures. I would like to stress
                            that even if my specific solution is wrong, I am at least barking up the
                            right tree, whereas attempts at allegorical solutions are sort of like
                            baying at the moon.

                            MIKE:
                            As I understand it, you suggest the following exegetical principle: any
                            details of a story not mentioned in Yeshu's "follow-up" statement cannot be
                            important to the meaning of the story.

                            JAN:
                            I do not suggest any exegetical principles. Where on earth did you get such
                            an idea?

                            MIKE:
                            This principle would result, for example, in saying that in the cursing of
                            the fig tree, the fact that it is a _fig tree_ and that it is a _cursing_
                            has no symbolic meaning, since Yeshu is not made to mention those "details"
                            in his follow-up statement at 11:22-25. Is this really a result that you
                            want?

                            JAN:
                            Your attempted reductio ad absurdum is invalid, since I have not suggested
                            any exegetical principles. I merely tried to solve the question posed in Mk
                            8:21 and my comments only apply to this passage. I would not dare to presume
                            to generalize them into an exegetical principle.

                            MIKE:
                            Let me also widen the scope of this discussion slightly, to include the
                            mention of the "leaven" of the Pharisees and Herodians at 8:15. The
                            intertwining of these passages indicates to me that Mark is contrasting
                            their "leaven" with Yeshu's, and that indeed the symbolism of the feedings
                            _does_ include the "multiplying" of loaves and fishes, which is something
                            your analysis denies.

                            JAN:
                            On the contrary, it is left for you to explain why Jesus, who speaks against
                            the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, would have used the same
                            for his alleged multiplication miracles. Mark's point here is that the
                            leaven of the Pharisees and of the Herodians is not the sustenance
                            characteristic of the Kingdom of God. It is woefully inadequate for the job
                            of sustaining the people in the wilderness, indicating the foolishness and
                            false pride of the Pharisees and Herodians. Just when it looks that the
                            crowds will starve Jesus assumes the role of the divine shepherd who feeds
                            his flock without recourse to any of this leavened bread. This is made clear
                            by the fact that even though it was offered to them, the crowds ate none of
                            it, and let it be collected again in the spyrides and kophinoi. The
                            disciples did not grasp this fact and later, in the boat, again worry about
                            provisions. Jesus, now exasperated, forces them to repeat the numbers of
                            spyrides and kophinoi and asks, "And you still don't understand?" Doesn't
                            that suggest to you, Mike, that the point he is making has to do with these
                            numbers as measures of bread, rather than as allegories of seven deacons or
                            seven Noahic laws? Mark certainly implies that the disciples should be able
                            to grasp some fact on the basis of the information given. The information
                            given does not include deacons or Noahic laws. According to the structure of
                            this chapter of Mark, what the disciples are expected to grasp should be
                            both easy to figure out and surprising. That condition is satisfied by the
                            hypothesis I have proposed, namely that the pieces of bread broken by Jesus
                            are the very same ones that are later collected in the baskets. The
                            disciples had not realized that up to this point. The questions that Jesus
                            solicits from them virtually give the solution away. It would have been
                            anticlimactic for Mark to spell out the solution, which should obvious to
                            anyone whose brain hasn't turned to stone (paraphrasing the words Mark
                            ascribes to Jesus in 8:17).

                            MIKE:
                            >Finally (since I have little time to write this morning), I would like to
                            put forward the proposition that a hypothesis cannot be adequate if it does
                            not account for all the known facts. To deny that the specific mention of
                            _males_ and kosher "knapsacks" in the story of the feeding of the 5000 is
                            intended to point to a specifically Jewish event/mission seems to me to be
                            indefensible.

                            JAN:
                            As I mentioned above, the story may be indicating something about the
                            position of Jews and Gentiles in the Kingdom of God, but it has nothing to
                            do with missionary activities, as far as I can see.
                          • Mike Grondin
                            Let me first say, Jan, what a pleasure it is to discuss these matters with you. You are an excellent proponent of a viewpoint that I would otherwise take to be
                            Message 13 of 20 , Sep 5, 1998
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                              Let me first say, Jan, what a pleasure it is to discuss these matters with
                              you. You are an excellent proponent of a viewpoint that I would otherwise
                              take to be hopelessly misguided. There are still many things to be said on
                              this topic, but I want to concentrate on the two types of "basket" for a
                              moment, to see what can be made of their relative size.

                              (the 5000): 5 loaves and two fish --> 12 kophinoi of fragments
                              (the 4000): 7 loaves (+ some fish?) --> 7 spyridoi of fragments

                              Can it be doubted that "multiplication" is going on here? Well, maybe - if
                              your hypotheses are true, viz.:

                              H1: ... a spyris is fashioned so as to carry a single loaf of bread
                              H2: ... the volume of 5 spyrides is the same as that of 12 kophinoi

                              But is H1 true? Well, according to Philip Lewis on this forum:

                              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. (end Lewis quote)

                              Obviously, Paul cannot have been "seated" in a basket only large enough to
                              hold a single loaf of bread. But perhaps he only had one foot in it (toe
                              downward?)?

                              Again, there is the pesky matter of those NT translators. Some of them
                              actually translate 'spyridoi' as '_large_ baskets'. A "large" basket
                              holding only a single loaf of bread? How could they be so wildly mistaken?

                              Or again, take your own mathematics: According to H2, spyridoi are _larger_
                              than kophonoi. That makes sense, but when taken together with H1, it
                              results in the conclusion that kophonoi carry less than half a loaf of
                              bread! Is that likely?

                              So evidently, H1 is simply false. I'm not sure whether you would want to
                              try to save it or not. What say you?

                              Mike
                              ------------------------------------
                              The Codex II Student Resource Center
                              http://www.geocities.com/athens/9068
                            • INTERPRES
                              ... I think you ve identified some weak spots in my hypothesis, but that these may be clarified by a better understanding of ancient units of volume. Firstly,
                              Message 14 of 20 , Sep 5, 1998
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                                Mike Grondin:

                                >Can it be doubted that "multiplication" is going on here? Well, maybe - if
                                >your hypotheses are true, viz.:
                                >
                                >H1: ... a spyris is fashioned so as to carry a single loaf of bread
                                >H2: ... the volume of 5 spyrides is the same as that of 12 kophinoi
                                >
                                >But is H1 true? Well, according to Philip Lewis on this forum:
                                >
                                >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. (end Lewis quote)
                                >
                                >Obviously, Paul cannot have been "seated" in a basket only large enough to
                                >hold a single loaf of bread. But perhaps he only had one foot in it (toe
                                >downward?)?
                                >
                                >Again, there is the pesky matter of those NT translators. Some of them
                                >actually translate 'spyridoi' as '_large_ baskets'. A "large" basket
                                >holding only a single loaf of bread? How could they be so wildly mistaken?
                                >
                                >Or again, take your own mathematics: According to H2, spyridoi are _larger_
                                >than kophonoi. That makes sense, but when taken together with H1, it
                                >results in the conclusion that kophonoi carry less than half a loaf of
                                >bread! Is that likely?
                                >
                                >So evidently, H1 is simply false. I'm not sure whether you would want to
                                >try to save it or not. What say you?
                                >
                                I think you've identified some weak spots in my hypothesis, but that these
                                may be clarified by a better understanding of ancient units of volume.

                                Firstly, the kophinos basically contained a daily ration of bread. I can
                                well imagine that this ration was approximately 4/10 of a standard loaf (but
                                see below).

                                Secondly, we do not know how big a standard loaf was. Unfortunately,
                                historical metrology as an academic discipline died an untimely death in the
                                first decades of this century and is now of concern to just a few isolated
                                individuals. For this reason these types of metrological questions are not
                                easy to answer.

                                Thirdly, with respect to the spyris, it is quite possible that a spyris was
                                simply a type of basket when used in one sense of the word, and a specific
                                measure of volume when used in another. Cf. the English word "cup" which may
                                mean a cup of any size or a recognized unit of volume. Therefore the spyris
                                used by Paul in Acts 9:31 may be different from the unit of volume referred
                                to by Mark.

                                Fourthly, the text of Mark does not state that the spyris and the kophinos
                                were ever filled with whole loaves, but rather that they were filled with
                                fragments of loaves. It says that Jesus broke seven loaves and seven
                                spyrides of pieces were collected; he broke five loaves and twelve kophinoi
                                of pieces were collected. The fragments would obviously take up more space
                                than the whole loaves. The volume of a spyris was filled with the fragments
                                from one loaf of bread, and the volume of a kophinos was filled with the
                                fragments of about 4/10 of a loaf of bread.

                                I do need to do my homework in historical metrology.

                                Jan
                              • INTERPRES
                                ... I think you ve identified some weak spots in my hypothesis, but that these may be clarified by a better understanding of ancient units of volume. Firstly,
                                Message 15 of 20 , Sep 5, 1998
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                                  Mike Grondin:

                                  >Can it be doubted that "multiplication" is going on here? Well, maybe - if
                                  >your hypotheses are true, viz.:
                                  >
                                  >H1: ... a spyris is fashioned so as to carry a single loaf of bread
                                  >H2: ... the volume of 5 spyrides is the same as that of 12 kophinoi
                                  >
                                  >But is H1 true? Well, according to Philip Lewis on this forum:
                                  >
                                  >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. (end Lewis quote)
                                  >
                                  >Obviously, Paul cannot have been "seated" in a basket only large enough to
                                  >hold a single loaf of bread. But perhaps he only had one foot in it (toe
                                  >downward?)?
                                  >
                                  >Again, there is the pesky matter of those NT translators. Some of them
                                  >actually translate 'spyridoi' as '_large_ baskets'. A "large" basket
                                  >holding only a single loaf of bread? How could they be so wildly mistaken?
                                  >
                                  >Or again, take your own mathematics: According to H2, spyridoi are _larger_
                                  >than kophonoi. That makes sense, but when taken together with H1, it
                                  >results in the conclusion that kophonoi carry less than half a loaf of
                                  >bread! Is that likely?
                                  >
                                  >So evidently, H1 is simply false. I'm not sure whether you would want to
                                  >try to save it or not. What say you?
                                  >
                                  I think you've identified some weak spots in my hypothesis, but that these
                                  may be clarified by a better understanding of ancient units of volume.

                                  Firstly, the kophinos basically contained a daily ration of bread. I can
                                  well imagine that this ration was approximately 4/10 of a standard loaf (but
                                  see below).

                                  Secondly, we do not know how big a standard loaf was. Unfortunately,
                                  historical metrology as an academic discipline died an untimely death in the
                                  first decades of this century and is now of concern to just a few isolated
                                  individuals. For this reason these types of metrological questions are not
                                  easy to answer.

                                  Thirdly, with respect to the spyris, it is quite possible that a spyris was
                                  simply a type of basket when used in one sense of the word, and a specific
                                  measure of volume when used in another. Cf. the English word "cup" which may
                                  mean a cup of any size or a recognized unit of volume. Therefore the spyris
                                  used by Paul in Acts 9:31 may be different from the unit of volume referred
                                  to by Mark.

                                  Fourthly, the text of Mark does not state that the spyris and the kophinos
                                  were ever filled with whole loaves, but rather that they were filled with
                                  fragments of loaves. It says that Jesus broke seven loaves and seven
                                  spyrides of pieces were collected; he broke five loaves and twelve kophinoi
                                  of pieces were collected. The fragments would obviously take up more space
                                  than the whole loaves. The volume of a spyris was filled with the fragments
                                  from one loaf of bread, and the volume of a kophinos was filled with the
                                  fragments of about 4/10 of a loaf of bread.

                                  I do need to do my homework in historical metrology.

                                  Jan
                                • INTERPRES
                                  YURI: Because he ate the magic sushi, he was able, having already written, according to Jan, the Book of Acts before 60 ad, to *Travel Forward In Time* to ca.
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Sep 6, 1998
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                                    YURI:
                                    Because he ate the magic sushi, he was able, having
                                    already written, according to Jan, the Book of Acts before 60 ad, to
                                    *Travel Forward In Time* to ca. 120 ad. And having found out what the
                                    needs of the Church will be in the future, he was able to write, 60 years
                                    later, the Gospel of Luke, i.e. Volume One of his two-part treatise (using
                                    in part also the Gospel of John, and the other 2 synoptics in the
                                    process!).

                                    JAN:
                                    I have selected this passage out of Yuri's sarcastic outburst, since it
                                    contains a scrap of a rational argument, on which I would like to briefly
                                    comment. Yuri has apparently boundless admiration for Loisy’s
                                    "deconstructive" approach to the NT, and he takes as "gospel truth" the
                                    Master's conclusion that GLuke originated after A.D. 120 (actually Loisy
                                    guesses 130-140). I would have no quarrel with some interpolations to Luke
                                    being late (particularly the so-called Non-Western Non-Interpolations),
                                    though definitely not as late as all that, but I do argue that the original
                                    GLuke and Acts were written before 58 A.D, just prior to Paul's execution.
                                    BTW, Loisy is singularly unconvincing in his attempted explanation of the
                                    "Significant Silence of Acts as to the Fate of Paul" in his The Origin of
                                    the New Testament. But we've covered this ground before and I'd rather not
                                    start another round of fruitless bickering with Yuri, who has evidently
                                    still not learned the rules of civilized debate.

                                    Jan Sammer
                                  • y.kuchinsky@utoronto.ca
                                    ... Jan, Just as we were beginning to see eye to eye on some of these theories, you re sending me such an unkind note. I m deeply disappointed that you are so
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Sep 7, 1998
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                                      On Sun, 6 Sep 1998, INTERPRES wrote:

                                      > YURI:
                                      > Because he ate the magic sushi, he was able, having
                                      > already written, according to Jan, the Book of Acts before 60 ad, to
                                      > *Travel Forward In Time* to ca. 120 ad. And having found out what the
                                      > needs of the Church will be in the future, he was able to write, 60 years
                                      > later, the Gospel of Luke, i.e. Volume One of his two-part treatise (using
                                      > in part also the Gospel of John, and the other 2 synoptics in the
                                      > process!).
                                      >
                                      > JAN:
                                      > I have selected this passage out of Yuri's sarcastic outburst, since it
                                      > contains a scrap of a rational argument, on which I would like to briefly
                                      > comment.

                                      Jan,

                                      Just as we were beginning to see eye to eye on some of these theories,
                                      you're sending me such an unkind note. I'm deeply disappointed that you
                                      are so negative towards my Suchi Ur-Eucharist theory. (Of course another
                                      poster suggested it should rather be called the Sashimi Eucharist, but I'm
                                      still not quite prepared to accept that Jesus couldn't ensure that some
                                      steam rice be provided for the public when the occasion demanded it.)

                                      And my theory seemed to fit so nicely with your highly intriguing Feeding
                                      Basket Size Variation theory (or should it rather be described as the
                                      Sammer Basket Case?). Don't be in any hurry to retreat from your Basket
                                      Theory, Jan. I'm sure all these small problems Mike Grondin found with it
                                      can still be addressed by and by. I may even help you later on with that
                                      metrology thing. I suppose metrology just doesn't come easy, one must
                                      sruggle for it...

                                      > Yuri has apparently boundless admiration for Loisy�s "deconstructive"
                                      > approach to the NT, and he takes as "gospel truth" the Master's
                                      > conclusion that GLuke originated after A.D. 120 (actually Loisy guesses
                                      > 130-140). I would have no quarrel with some interpolations to Luke being
                                      > late (particularly the so-called Non-Western Non-Interpolations), though
                                      > definitely not as late as all that, but I do argue that the original
                                      > GLuke and Acts were written before 58 A.D, just prior to Paul's
                                      > execution.

                                      So, Jan, are you now going to leave your good friend Steve Davies in the
                                      lurch as to the dating of Lk? He agreed with you as to the dating of Acts,
                                      so the least you could have done is provide some support for him with his
                                      radical redating of Lk/Acts project... Oh, well, this is how it is with
                                      you I guess. I suppose you're a man of principle, and will speak the truth
                                      without fear or favour, come Hell or High Water...

                                      I admire your rectitude, Jan.

                                      > BTW, Loisy is singularly unconvincing in his attempted explanation of
                                      > the "Significant Silence of Acts as to the Fate of Paul" in his The
                                      > Origin of the New Testament. But we've covered this ground before and
                                      > I'd rather not start another round of fruitless bickering with Yuri, who
                                      > has evidently still not learned the rules of civilized debate.

                                      Not at all, Jan. In fact, with your valued help, I may be beginning now to
                                      see certain inadequacies in Loisy. I may have to look for a better Master
                                      now. If you perchance may reconsider your rather intemperate rejection of
                                      my Sushi Ur-Eucharist, maybe you will become my new Master... Who knows?

                                      Yours Scientifically,

                                      Yuri.
                                    • INTERPRES
                                      ... Historical Metrology does seems to unnerve some people. I have studied its demise as an academic discipline in the early decades of this century and I was
                                      Message 18 of 20 , Sep 8, 1998
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                                        YURI:

                                        > I'm deeply disappointed that you
                                        > are so negative towards my Suchi Ur-Eucharist theory. ...
                                        > And my theory seemed to fit so nicely with your highly intriguing Feeding
                                        > Basket Size Variation theory (or should it rather be described as the
                                        > Sammer Basket Case?). Don't be in any hurry to retreat from your Basket
                                        > Theory, Jan. ...I suppose metrology just doesn't come easy, one must
                                        > sruggle for it...


                                        Historical Metrology does seems to unnerve some people. I have studied its
                                        demise as an academic discipline in the early decades of this century and I
                                        was incredulous to find that the attacks to which it succumbed were at
                                        approximately the same degree of rationality as Yuri's. Scholars who had
                                        devoted their entire lives to the study of ancient units of weight and
                                        volume and were trained in the presentation and rebuttal of factual
                                        arguments, were helpless against this tide of unreason.

                                        Jan
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