Archive for March 2007

Mark 8

March 31, 2007

In this chapter, Jesus feeds 4,000 people with seven loaves and a few (oligos) small fishes, then went by ship to Dalmanutha. Next, Pharisees attempt to tempt him into providing a sign of His messiahship, which He rejects. Despite Jesus’s feeding of 4,000, the disciples worry because they only have one loaf of bread. Jesus tells them they have been infected by the spiritual uncleanness of the Pharisees and of Herod, which He calls “leaven.”

 Jesus then makes a blind man see by spitting on his eyes and then by touching the blind man’s eyes when that provides an incomplete cure. Jesus orders the man not to discuss his healing.

Jesus then quizzes the disciples about who He is. They tell Him that some people believe Jesus is John the Baptist and others believe He is Elijah, but Peter says that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus orders the disciples not to talk about Him. He shares with them His imminent martyrdom, which leads Peter to rebuke Jesus, and Jesus to rebuke Peter. Jesus then makes a key foundational statement about who is and who is not a Christian. He says that a Christian “must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” He says that “whoever wants to save his psuche (life/soul, with overtones of breath) will lose it.” He asks what value anything (kosmos) has if one loses one soul? He says that He will be ashamed of any who are ashamed of Him.

 1. The word for “basket” used in this chapter is spuris, and it occurs in only one other context in the New Testament, namely in Acts 9:25, in which Paul is let down outside the city walls of Damascus in a basket. Paul set down in a basket

(Image from website of Rev. Jack Barr) We know, then, that a basket could hold as much as, say, 100 pounds. But in the story in Mark 6, the word is kophinos and it occurs in no other context in the gospels. It means “a small pouch.”

2. There is a parallel between Jesus’s miraculous feeding and Elijah’s feeding of 100 with 20 loaves (2 King’s 4:42-44)

3. There seems to be some numerology around the loaves and the fishes, but what it is has been debated for centuries. Could the 12 basketfuls represent the 12 tribes? The 5 loaves the five books of the law?

4. If one made some plausible assumptions about the amount of food in a kophinos and a spuris, as well as some guesses about how many fish were “a few” and how much food people ate, one could develop simultaneous linear equations to solve for the miraculous equation of feeding.

*  7 loaves + “a few” fishes feeds 4,000 + 7 kophinos

*  5 loaves + 2 fishes feeds 5,000 + 12 spuris

 Whatever the equation may be, clearly, the less Jesus starts with, the more food He creates. Elijah had 20 loaves, and he could only feed 100.

5. Did Peter rebuke Jesus for saying He must die or for speaking plainly about it? Jesus only says that Peter is concerned with the things of men and not of God, so either interpretation is possible.