> I have uploaded my article on the Rebuke of the
Disciples in Mark
> 8:14-21 (from JSNT 27  31-47) to our files
page. It may be
> accessed through:
> I will be very interested in hearing how those who
> participating in the Jesus as mathematician thread
react to all that I
> say there.
Dear Jeffrey Gibson:
You give a well-reasoned discourse on this Markan
narrative. I have a number of disagreements, but they
regard judgment calls and, on each one, you might be
right. I would have liked to know, though, why you
apparently do not think that the specific numbers
cited by Mark in this narrative (i.e., 5, 7, 12, 4,000
and 5,000) have any special significance in and of
themselves. I also would have liked to have known why
you apparently do not think that there is any
significance to there being two types of baskets.
I think this is a key passage in your paper, "T'he
reason for the disciples' 'forgetting' to take extra
loaves is, therefore, to deny those not of Israel the
'bread' which Jesus had previously demonstrated is
theirs. And because of this, Jesus is made aware
that, like 'those outside', his disciples have
'hardened hearts' and do not 'see', 'hear',
'understand' his ministry and its implications."
If what you say in this passage is correct, then Mark
7:24-30 perhaps helps us to understand the nature of
the "bread" that the disciples want to deny to those
not of Israel.
In this passage, when a Syrophoenician woman who is
Greek asks Jesus to free her daughter of an unclean
spirit, he tells her, "Suffer first to be satisfied
the children--for it isn't good to take the bread of
children and cast (it) to dogs."
His words, ISTM, allude to Solomon 16:20-21, "Instead
whereof thou feddest Thine own people with angels'
food, and didst send them from heaven bread prepared
without their labour, able to content every man's
delight, and agreeing to every taste. For Thy
sustenance declared Thy sweetness into Thy children."
So, I take it, in Jesus' statement, the "children" are
God's children (i.e., the Jews), the "bread" is the
heavenly bread, and the "dogs" are Gentiles.
In this case, Jesus' statement has two elements to it.
First, he lets the woman know, he has the heavenly
bread or manna that can free her daughter of
the unclean spirit. Second, he tells her, he
hesitates to do this for a mere Gentile when he
hasn't, as yet, given God's chosen people, the Jews,
their fill of this heavenly bread.
What is this heavenly bread that expels demons from
An answer to this question is found in the teachings
of Philo--where the logoi (words) of God are a type of
heavenly bread. So, in L.A. iii (162), he states,
"'Behold I rain upon you bread out of heaven, and the
people shall go out and they shall gather the day's
portion for the day, that I may prove them whether
they will walk by My law of not' (Exod. xvi. 4). You
see that the soul is fed not things of earth that
decay, but with such logoi as God shall have poured
Further, as personified in the angels, these logoi can
expel demons from human souls. So, in Som. i
(148-149), Philo declares that "in the understandings
of those who are still undergoing cleansing....there
angels, divine logoi, making them bright and clean
with the doctrines of all that is good and beautiful.
It is quite manifest what troups of evil tenants are
ejected, in order that One, the Good One, may enter
So, I suggest, in 7:24-30, Mark's Jesus believes that
he can give humans a heavenly bread *that expels
demons from human souls* because he believes himself
to have the logoi of God that are a heavenly bread and
that, as personified in the angels, can expel demons
from human souls.
Mark's narrative thusly continues, "But she answered,
and says to him, 'Yea, Lord--for even the dogs under
the table eat of the crumbs of the children.' And he
said to her, 'Because of this logos (word) go--the
demon has gone forth out of your daughter.'"
The reason why she asks Jesus for a few "crumbs" of
the heavenly bread, I suggest, is because, she knows,
these "crumbs (i.e., individual words (logoi)" can, as
personified in the angels, free her daughter of the
Ironically, though, I further suggest, what the woman,
in effect, states (i.e., that the Gentiles, even
though they are not God's chosen people, deserve to
partake of the heavenly bread) is, itself, a divine
logos (word) of God. Further, as personified in an
angel, it has expelled the demon out of her daughter.
This is why, ISTM, Jesus tells her that 'because (in
the sense of "due to( the actions)"?) of this logos
(word)...the demon has gone out of your daughter"
rather than "I have sent this demon forth out of your
Relevant to the discussion is Mark 8:35-38, which
includes these phrases: (1) 35: "me and the Gospel",
(2) 38a: "me and my logoi (words)", and (3) 38b: "He
(i.e., the Son of Man)...the angels--the holy (ones)."
I suggest that they are taken to be equivalent, so
that: (1) me = me = Son of Man and (2) Gospel = my
logoi = the angels.
If so, then Mark's Jesus not only accepted the
doctrine, taught by Philo, that the logoi (words) are
personified in the angels, but also (and this
goes beyond anything that Philo states in any of his
surviving works) took these logoi, as a totality, to
constitute the Gospel.
This relates to 7:24-30, where, it appears, the
heavenly bread is taken to be the logoi (words).
Since these logoi (words) constitute the Gospel, this
means that the heavenly bread is the Gospel.
In this case, the lesson of 7:24-30 is this: one of
the words of the heavenly bread of the Gospel is that
the Gentiles, even though they aren't God's chosen
people, yet deserve to hear this Gospel.
Let us re-look at your statement, " T'he reason for
the disciples' 'forgetting' to take extra loaves is,
therefore, to deny those not of Israel the 'bread'
which Jesus had previously demonstrated is theirs.
And because of this, Jesus is made aware that, like
'those outside', his disciples have 'hardened hearts'
and do not 'see', 'hear', 'perceive', or 'understand'
his ministry and its implications."
I suggest that, for your phrase, "the 'bread'", we
substitute, "the Gospel". In this case, if your
analysis of 8:14-21 is reasonably accurate, then the
grievous sin of the disciples is that they have
refused to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.
This might relate to Gal 2:7, where Paul states, "When
they (i.e., the pillars) saw that I had been entrusted
with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter
had been entrusted with the gospel to the
Whatever else one wants to make of this statement, it
appears to be based on a reality of Peter limiting his
own preaching of the Gospel to the Jews. If so, then
I think it likely, since he had been the head of the
Twelve, that the rest of the surviving members of the
original Twelve had imitated him and, so, had,
likewise, limited their preaching of the Gospel to
If Mark 8:14-21 relates to this, then the point that
Mark tries to make in it is that Peter and the rest of
the surviving members of the original Twelve, by not
preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, showed a willful
hardening of heart in that they refused to acknowledge
what Jesus did acknowledge in his own words and deeds,
i.e., the validity of the doctrine that the Gentiles,
even though they are not God's chosen people, yet
deserve to have the Gospel preached to them.
In any event, I appreciate you placing your paper on
the internet for reading. It's going to take a while
for me to think through and evaluate it, but I already
know that it is going to change my understanding of
8:14-21 in several significant ways.
1809 N. English Apt. 17
Maplewood, MN USA 55109
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