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Re: Mark 8:19-21

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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
                          ------------------------------------
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                        • 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 12 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 13 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 14 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 15 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 16 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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