The Feeding Narratives in Mark

Studying the Significance by a Comparative Analysis

Master's Thesis, 2013

87 Pages





General Introduction1

1. Preliminary Analysis
1.1 Delimitation of the Text
1.1.1 Location Information
1.1.2 Time Information
1.1.3 Persons Involved
1.2 Provisional Translation
1.3 Textual Critical Notes
1.4 Literary Genre
1.5 Literary Context
1.5.1 A Literary Unit
1.5.2 Markan Theology
1.6 Markan Redaction
1.7 Structure of the Text
2. Literary Analysis of the Text
2.1 Introductory Part (30-34)
2.1.1 Οἱ Avpo,stoloi
2.1.2 Disciples Mission
2.1.3 Significance of the Place
2.1.4 Specification of the Place
2.1.5 Setting to the Feeding
2.1.6 Shepherd Motif
2.2. Miraculous Feeding (6:35-44)
2.2.1 Conversation between Jesus and his Disciples (6:35-38)
2.2.2 Feeding the Crowd with few Provisions (39-42) Moses´ Camping Order Blessed God for the Bread Breaking - Dividing Analyzing the Meal Procedure Emphasis on the ‘Bread’ Objections Indirect Influence
2.2.3 Conclusion with the Demonstration (6:43-44) Twelve Baskets Five Thousand Men

1. Preliminary Considerations
1.1. Delimitation of the Text
1.1.1. Location
1.1.2 Temporal Setting
1.1.3 Setting for the Crowd
1.2 Provisional Translation
1.3 Textual Criticism
1.4 Literary Genre
1.5 Literary Context
1.6 Markan Redaction
1.6.1 Counter Claim
1.6.2 Hellenistic Redaction
1.6.3 No Constitutive Evidence
1.6.4 Formal Dismissal
1.7 Structure of the Text
2. Literary Critical Analysis
2.1 Setting the Stage (Mk 8:1-3)
2.1.1 Jesus’ Concern
2.1.2 Connotation to the Gentiles
2.2 Emphasizing the Impossibility (Mk 8: 4)
2.3 Searching Options (Mk 8: 5)
2.3.1 The Significance of the Verse 7 Allusion to the OT Seventy Nations Eschatological Completeness
2.4 Occurrence of the Miracle (Mk 8:6-7)
2.4.1 Hellenistic Mark
2.4.2 Eucharistic Interpretation
2.4.3 Connotation to the Blessing
2.5 Satisfaction of the Crowd (Mk 8:8)
2.6 Sending the People and Leaving the Place (Mk 8:9-10)

1. Similarities
1.1 The Verbal Parallels
1.2 Jesus´ Compassion
1.3 Thematic Parallels
1.4 Common Basic Tradition
2. Dissimilarities
2.1 A Literary Work
2.2 The Narrative Setting
2.2.1 Spiritual Setting
2.2.2 Speculation on Numbers Symbolism Correlation in a Larger Context
2.2.4 Disciples´ Initiative
2.2.5 Jesus´ Initiative
2.3 The Portrayal of the ‘Place’
2.4 Jesus´ Command to Recline
2.5 The Blessing of the Loaves
2.6 The Baskets
2.7 Five Thousand Men
3. The Significance of the Two Texts
3.1 Two Distinctive Traditions
3.2 OT Background
3.3 Eucharistic Influence
3.4 Mark´s Intention
3.5 Extended Mission to the Gentiles
General Conclusion


With sentiments of joy and profound gratitude to ever loving and almighty God, who has been guiding me all through my life by His gracious presence, I place my sincere thanks to all those, who helped me to bring my thesis into completion. First and foremost, I express my sincere gratitude to Prof. Dr. Boris Repschinski SJ with his profound biblical knowledge and deep interest guided me to complete this research paper. In fact, in the path of my biblical studies he guided me with great concern and inspired me as a true guide and master to read the scripture with right view and approach. I also thank the library staff, who helped me to get the biblical resources and materials related to my thesis. I thank BILDI which offered me the bible software to work with. With a deep sense of gratitude I remember my Archbishop, Most Rev. Dr. Peter Fernando, for having permitted me to pursue my biblical studies. I also thankfully remember Fr. C. V. Mattam SJ, for his spiritual support. With exuberant heart I thank my uncles Fr. Dominic Savio SJ, and Fr. Edward Xavier MSFS for their interest and concern in my studies. I offer my sincere thanks to Frs. Julians and Vijay for their valuable suggestions, which enlightened me in my area of Interest. I also thank Frs. Morris, Antony for their technical help and Tian Shufeng Peter for his suggestions in Greek.

I also thank the Rector and community of Collegium Canisianum for their support and encouragement. With loving heart I remember my mother Mrs. Rosali Savarimuthu, my sisters and my brother for their love and moral support. I also remember all my relatives and friends for their prayers and moral support to continue my studies in Innsbruck. I specially remember my spiritual mother, Monique Eymard and family for their love and support. I place my sincere thanks to Mr.Werner and Claudia family for their love and support. Once again I thank all those who helped me to materialize this work.


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General Introduction

In today´s context, where we witness a growing spirit of individualism, which justifies the survival of the fittest, which looks down upon the spirit of sharing, Mark´s portrayal of Jesus, in the context of the two feeding narratives emphasize on the values of sharing and inclusivism. Through these miracles Mark brings out the universal nature of Jesus´ mission. In this paper, we shall strive to bring forth, how these seemingly similar miracles are present in the gospel to speak of the nature of Jesus´ mission which starts with the Judean community and embraces the gentiles too. Thus the presence of the two feeding narratives in his Gospel became the object of our study. One may say that they are repeated as a result of two different traditions or sources and this kind of repetition is similar to that of we find in the gospel of Matthew (Mt 9:27-31 with 20:29-34; 9:32-34 with 12:22-24; 12:38-39 with 16:1-4). But through our studies we will show that Mark does not in vain repeat the same story. He had a particular motive in placing these two stories in his gospel. We shall study in what contexts Mark presents these feeding narratives, how he presents the similar miracles in different contexts, by using different numbers, themes and words.

Statement of the Thesis

Mark presents the two feeding narratives, that appear to be similar in their content, in different contexts, in order to emphasize the nature of Jesus´ mission of the kingdom of God which finds its beginnings among the Jews and goes on to include the gentiles. This message is strongly expressed through his table fellowship with the Jews and the gentiles.


This research paper is a comparative analysis of the two feeding narrative texts based on the Greek New Testament. For the Old Testament references we use Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and for the scriptural quotations in English we use the RSV. Since we study the numbers, words and themes in the text we utilize predominantly the literary critical method. We also will be making use of the tools of historical critical method (redactional, form and textual). Although we use the final form of the text we also learn some textual critical notes that concern our topic. Since it is the study of the miracle we utilize the form critical method.


In the first chapter we shall study the feeding of the five thousand (6:30-44). Mark presents this first feeding miracle after the narrative on John the Baptist. We find the sending of the disciples for the mission in 6:7 and their return in 6:30. Mark fills this gap with the narrative of John the Baptist. Before the actual feeding begins we find the section 6:30-34 that functions as an introduction to the following feeding. Mark uses the word ‘Apostles’ only in this narrative. We also find the OT allusion of ‘sheep without shepherd’ which is an important allusion in the OT and in the Israelistic tradition. This narrative form has a similarity with the Elisha´s feeding miracle in 2Kg 4:42-44. Thus we find many allusions and motifs. Our study will bring out intention of Mark using these allusions and motifs in this feeding narrative. In the second chapter we study the feeding of the four thousand (8:1-10). This second feeding narrative in comparison with the first feeding narrative has little OT background. This narrative unlike the first feeding begins without any introduction. The text itself does not give any information about the place of its occurrence. Mark uses in this narrative the numbers, words and themes which are different from the first feeding. Mark presents Jesus as the one who cares for the physical hunger of the people because they remained with him for three days and some are coming from ‘far away’ places. We study in this chapter with what connotation the term ‘far away’ is used. We also study the context of the feeding narrative which would help us to bring out its significance. In the third chapter, we study the similarities and the dissimilarities between these two narratives. The meanings behind the similarities are the same but the dissimilarities give us different significances. Thus we study the words, numbers and themes in similarities and dissimilarities.

Scope and the Limitation of the Study

The scope of our study pertains only to these two narratives, analyzing their theological significance by studying the similarities and dissimilarities between them. Though similar feeding narratives do appear in other gospels, we do not study them as it does not serve the purpose of our study.

Chapter 1 The Feeding of the Five Thousand in Mk 6:30-44


In this first chapter, we analyze the text in Mark 6:30-44. Although we have different critical methods to analyze the text, we find the literary critical method more appropriate to extract the implied meaning from the text. Certainly we also use other methods like form-critical and redaction-critical method. This chapter consists of some preliminary considerations like delimitation of the text, textual criticism, literary genre and literary context and narrative criticism which bring from different perspectives the meaning of the text.

1. Preliminary Analysis

In this preliminary analysis section we establish the text of our study (Mark 6:30-44). In order to do that, we concentrate on the delimitation of the pericope. This text consists of three important elements such as the time, location and characters. We study these three criteria and know the key information about the text. We shall then have our own English translation of the text. We shall study some textual critical notes from Metzger with regard to our pericope´s prehistory and composition. We try to situate the text in its literary context. We also learn the literary form of the text. Mark projects his own theology in the gospel so we study what theology he projects in our text. Then we learn the structure of our text and using this structure we bring out the meaning of the text.

1.1 Delimitation of the Text

The unit under our consideration is Mk 6:30-44. Applying the dramatic criterion[1] to our pericope we observe the change of character and of place, and of time. The previous section Mk 6:12-29 is the story of John the Baptist. The following passage 6:45-52 is Jesus, walking on the sea. 6:30-44 is the section on the feeding of the five thousand.

This section consists of an introductory part with a summary account and a miracle narrative with an extended introduction. These parts are logically interwoven that we have taken them as one pericope. Commentators, mentioned below, have divided this material into two parts. Where, however, is the line of demarcation? It has been variously drawn between 6:31/32 by schweizer[2] between 6:32/33 by Kertelge[3] between 6:33/34 by Schenke[4] and between 6:34/35 by Taylor.[5]

In a detailed analysis, Egger[6] has taken 6:30-34 to be a summary report providing a transition to the feeding miracle in 6:35-44. But from the point of his view he considers Jesus´ teaching (6:34) as the concluding element in relation with the disciples´ report of their teaching in 6:30 rather than recognizing the former as an integral part of 6:35-44. Although these two elements seem to be related in teaching, the subjects are different. The disciples are the subjects in 6:30 whereas in 6:34 Jesus is the subject. There is a primary action at the heart of 6:32-34, i.e., the futile attempt to evade the crowds. This does not correspond to his division.[7]

We find the verse 30 as a summary statement (see, 6:7b). It clearly connects the report by the disciples to the mission of 6:7-13. Jesus´ suggestion (6:31) that they get alone to find some rest, arises from this report and provides the transition to the scene in 6:32 which begins the extended introduction of the feeding miracle.[8]

At the end of the miracle story we find the number of men had eaten (6:44). But we get the impression that the narration ends in 6:53-56, because they reach Genesareth after the two times of boat travel (6:32, 45). Thus we may say that this narrative style does not have good finish. We also find again the failure attempt of Jesus to be alone in 6:53ff. The same situation is portrayed in 6:30-34 where Jesus shows himself that he is pressurized by the people. The people search Jesus to be healed from their infirmities. The intention of Jesus to be alone with the disciples also fails to be realized.[9]

1.1.1 Location Information

As it is usual to Mark, the location information here in this narrative has a structuralizing function. Mark is not giving the details about where Jesus is staying and from where the disciples come and meet Jesus. Thus we assume that their exit point is the last location of Jesus where he waited for them to return from their mission. There meet the disciples again Jesus together. As the context suggests (6:32) that location is somewhere by the side of the Sea of Galilee which was the centre of the ministry of Jesus.[10] From there they are leaving by boat to a lonely place (6:32).[11]

1.1.2 Time Information

The exact time and duration of the event in this narrative is unclear. Mark uses the word πολύς to indicate that it was very (much) late. The verse 30 begins with a new section in the Mark´s Gospel, which is connected to the situation in 6:7-13. But the connection is not immediate. The preceding passage deals with the story of John the Baptist. What Jesus was doing while his disciples were on mission, is not mentioned. We presume that Jesus could have spent the time along the sea of Galilee waiting for the disciples to return. We have only little information from which the duration of the narrative events can be derived. Most consistently the first transition (6:30-34; 35-52) is timely framed. We do not know on which day the disciples returned and met Jesus and we do not know whether it is the day, the narrative time portrays. After the failed attempt to flee, Jesus teaches the crowd till it becomes late (6:35). Then follows the first feeding and the departure of the disciples and the sending away of the crowd and Jesus’ leaving to the mountain.[12] It is surprising to note, that though the feeding started when it was late, yet all the succeeding events, that need a longer span of time, such as feeding the five thousand, sending them back home, sending the disciples and Jesus going to the mountain, all happened in one evening.

1.1.3 Persons Involved

This narrative involves three types of people: Jesus, the disciples and the crowd. In the first part of the section we learn that Jesus wants to give his attention to the disciples after their mission and wants to spend time with them that’s why he seeks an unpopulated place where there is no pressure of the crowd. But in the planned area, where Jesus wanted to spend time with the disciples, became populated and crowded (6:33). Jesus´ attention is turned towards the crowd. He had compassion on them and taught them many things. By asking the disciples to feed the crowd also, he demands them to fulfill the need of the crowd. Although in the beginning they expressed their surprised reaction, yet later by following Jesus’ instructions they played a vital role in the feeding narrative.

Apart from the three criteria above mentioned, we find a word field that will be activated consistently is food, bread and meals:

- Jesus and the disciples could not have food because of the pressure of the crowd. (6:31; 3:20).
- The disciples suggest: the people to be sent away, so that they buy themselves something to eat (6:37).

The Mark´s motive for the meals emerges from the fruitless retreat in the narrative context: Jesus’ unsuccessful withdrawal from the crowd, peoples’ eagerness brings Jesus’ compassion on them and he must caringly act for the crowd.[13]

1.2 Provisional Translation

30. Kai. suna,gontai oi` avpo,stoloi pro.j to.n VIhsou/n kai. avph,ggeilan auvtw/| pa,nta o[sa evpoi,hsan kai. o[sa evdi,daxanÅ

And the apostles gathered around Jesus and reported themselves all they did and taught.

31. kai. le,gei auvtoi/j\ deu/te u`mei/j auvtoi. katV ivdi,an eivj e;rhmon to,pon kai. avnapau,sasqe ovli,gonÅ h=san ga.r oi` evrco,menoi kai. oi` u`pa,gontej polloi,( kai. ouvde. fagei/n euvkai,rounÅ

He said “you come away yourself to a lonely place and be refreshed for some time”. For many were coming and going that they had no leisure even to eat.

32. Kai. avph/lqon evn tw/| ploi,w| eivj e;rhmon to,pon katV ivdi,anÅ

And they went away with the boat[14] to a deserted place by themselves.

33. kai. ei=don auvtou.j u`pa,gontaj kai. evpe,gnwsan polloi. kai. pezh/| avpo. pasw/n tw/n po,lewn sune,dramon evkei/ kai. proh/lqon auvtou,jÅ

And the people saw them, departing and recognized them. And from all the cities the people ran to that place on foot and reached there before them.

34. Kai. evxelqw.n ei=den polu.n o;clon kai. evsplagcni,sqh evpV auvtou,j( o[ti h=san w`j pro,bata mh. e;conta poime,na( kai. h;rxato dida,skein auvtou.j polla,Å

And he went ashore and saw a great crowd and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without shepherd and he began to teach them many things.[15]

35. Kai. h;dh w[raj pollh/j genome,nhj proselqo,ntej auvtw/| oi` maqhtai. auvtou/ e;legon o[ti e;rhmo,j evstin o` to,poj kai. h;dh w[ra pollh,\

And it became already very late they came to him and the disciples said, “It is a deserted place and it is already very late”.

36. avpo,luson auvtou,j( i[na avpelqo,ntej eivj tou.j ku,klw| avgrou.j kai. kw,maj avgora,swsin e`autoi/j ti, fa,gwsinÅ

Let them go in order that they may go into the nearby countryside and the villages to buy something to eat”.

37. o` de. avpokriqei.j ei=pen auvtoi/j\ do,te auvtoi/j u`mei/j fagei/nÅ kai. le,gousin auvtw/|\ avpelqo,ntej avgora,swmen dhnari,wn diakosi,wn a;rtouj kai. dw,somen auvtoi/j fagei/nÈ

But he answered and said to them, “you yourself give them to eat”. And they said to him, “are we to go and buy bread for 200 denarii and give them to eat”?

38. o` de. le,gei auvtoi/j\ po,souj a;rtouj e;ceteÈ u`pa,gete i;deteÅ kai. gno,ntej le,gousin\ pe,nte( kai. du,o ivcqu,ajÅ

And he said to them “How many loaves do you have? Go and see”. When they found out, they said, “five and two fish”.

39. kai. evpe,taxen auvtoi/j avnakli/nai pa,ntaj sumpo,sia sumpo,sia evpi. tw/| clwrw/| co,rtw|Å

And he ordered them all to sit down in groups[16] on the green grass.

40. kai. avne,pesan prasiai. prasiai. kata. e`kato.n kai. kata. penth,kontaÅ

And they sat down in groups[17] of hundreds and of fifties.

41. kai. labw.n tou.j pe,nte a;rtouj kai. tou.j du,o ivcqu,aj avnable,yaj eivj to.n ouvrano.n euvlo,ghsen kai. kate,klasen tou.j a;rtouj kai. evdi,dou toi/j maqhtai/j Îauvtou/Ð i[na paratiqw/sin auvtoi/j( kai. tou.j du,o ivcqu,aj evme,risen pa/sin

And he took the five loaves and the two fish and looked in to the heaven, blessed and broke the loaves and gave to the disciples to set before the people and he divided the two fish among them all.[18]

42. kai. e;fagon pa,ntej kai. evcorta,sqhsan

And they all ate and were satisfied.

43. kai. h=ran kla,smata dw,deka kofi,nwn plhrw,mata kai. avpo. tw/n ivcqu,wn

And they took up twelve baskets full of pieces and of the fish.[19]

44. kai. h=san oi` fago,ntej Îtou.j a;rtoujÐ pentakisci,lioi a;ndrejÅ

Those who had eaten the loaves were five thousand men.

1.3 Textual Critical Notes

In our pericope Mk 6: 30-44, we have couple of textual problems to be addressed.

V. 6: 41 μαθηταῖς [αὐτοῦ] {C} In order to differentiate the disciples of John the Baptist from the disciples of Jesus, the Evangelist uses here the word ‘his disciples’.

“The weight of the external evidence is rather evenly divided between the readings with and without αὐτοῦ. Normally Mark speaks of “his disciples,” more rarely “the disciples.” The former expression is an archaic trait reflecting a stage in the transmission of the Gospel tradition when the disciples of Jesus were not yet “the disciples” (compare the parallels in Mt 14:19 and Lk 9:16). On the one hand, therefore, it appears that αὐτοῦ should be read. On the other hand, however, since shorter readings in the Alexandrian text are generally to be preferred, the Committee thought it best to enclose αὐτοῦ within square brackets”.[20]

V. 6: 44 [τοὺς ἄρτους] {C} The omission of the fish raises question, why ‘the loaves’ has been singled out? “External evidence is evenly divided between the witnesses that include the words τοὺς ἄρτους and those that omit them. Moreover, several witnesses (such as D W syrs) that frequently have the longer reading, here have the shorter reading. From the point of view of transcriptional probabilities, it is more likely that copyists were tempted to delete than to add τοὺς ἄρτους, for the presence of these words raises awkward questions why “loaves” should be singled out with no mention of the fish (the Old Latin ms. c reads both).[21]

1.4 Literary Genre

The English word ‘miracle’ derives from the Lat. Miraculum, a wonder, a wonderful thing. Both the Latin noun and the cognate verb mirare ‘wonder, be astonished’ draw attention to the subjective response to the event rather than to speculation as to whether the event breaks the laws of the nature.

The miracle story can be categorized as a gift miracle through following elements: (a) the spontaneity of the miraculous action, (b) the character of not attracting the unnecessary attention of the miracle itself and (c) a clear demonstration.[22] This particular story is reminiscent of several OT passages such as the miraculous feeding of the people in the wilderness[23] and the feeding miracles of Elijah and Elisha.[24]

But Bultmann classified this account as a nature miracle, implicitly placing the emphasis on the ability of Jesus to feed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. We find the escalation of tension between disciples and Jesus who commands them to feed and they in turn state the impossibility. The origin of the miraculous loaves distributed by the disciples is unknown. The miracle itself is illustrated only by the successful distribution and the satisfaction of those fed. The narrative makes its impact in large part by showing that there was more food at the end than at the beginning, and the number of those fed is revealed impressively only at the end.[25] Theissen categorizes this story as a “gift miracle”, that is, a story in which “material goods are made available in surprising ways; they provide larger-than-life and extraordinary gifts, food transformed, increased, and richly available.” Such stories could also be called miracles of material culture, since they illustrate problems of human labor: how to get food to live and wine to feast. A typical feature is that gift miracles are never initiated by requests, but always by an act of the miracle-worker.[26] Bultmann’s and Theissen’s perspectives are complementary, rather than exclusive, alternatives.[27]

1.5 Literary Context

Mark´s gospel opens with a summary of the mission of John the Baptist (1:1-13) as a preface to the narratives of the baptism and the temptation of Jesus. And it ends with the graphic depiction of his arrest, trial, crucifixion and burial (14:1-15, 47) and three women´s arrival at the empty tomb (16:1-8). Apart from this it has two large sections which consist of the Galilean ministry (1:14-9, and 50) and of the Judean ministry (chs 10-13). Our pericope Mk 6, 30-44 is part of the Galilean ministry. Therefore let us see how our pericope is interwoven into the context of the gospel.

Our text is carefully integrated into the literary context of the gospel. We find in it many situations and scenes which are similar to the Markan narrative. They are also typical that we should know them again and relate them with one another.[28]

- We find the situation in 6,31ff which is typical of mark: The rush of the crowd is too much that Jesus and the disciples could not rest, not even able to eat.[29] Therefore Jesus and the disciples are leaving to a lonely place.[30] To go to that place he uses the boat.[31] But wherever he goes the people from all the regions[32] are gathered there.[33] This situation is very much common in the gospel of Mark.
- The situation of the verse 6:31ff is repeated later in 6:53-56. Other than in 6:31-34 where the people as the sheep without shepherd crazing on the teaching of Jesus[34] here the stress falls on the healing power and the activity for the sick and the infirmed.[35]

The both feeding narratives play on lonely place (6:35; 8:4) where the crowd had found Jesus. But he preferred, this time with the disciples, (6:31) the lonely and deserted place[36] in the vicinity wherein the pressure of the crowd will withdraw.[37] All these situations and phrases are characteristics of Mark spread all over in the Gospel. The OT allusions like ‘sheep without shepherd’ (πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα) used in 6:34 portrays Jesus as the Shepherd who by his teaching leads the people who are leaderless. Now God´s rule is revealed in Jesus.[38] This understanding of allusions comes only through the OT background.

We don’t find clear ante-reference in the following narrative but a well hidden note that points beyond the narrative timeframe and context. That is the command of Jesus. Jesus demands from the disciples “you give them to eat” (6:37). As a matter of fact, the disciples feed the great crowd which is hungry (6:41). Certainly one cannot have the impression that the disciples fulfilled the demand of Jesus. The question stands: when will the disciples give the people to eat? Will the 12 baskets of broken pieces have a role to play?[39] Although the disciples only distributed the loaves and the fishes which were miraculously provided by Jesus, it is a clear command to them that in the future they should give provisions for the people´s sustenance, following the footsteps of Jesus.

1.5.1 A Literary Unit

The narrative of the miraculous feeding to the crowd portrays a preset literary unit.[40] This is a miracle story with Jesus as the Initiator and the miracle worker.[41] Apart from the summary statement as an introduction, the miracle story has a common miracle narrative form. Therefore it could be considered as a separate literary unit.

Mark most likely found the miracle story with its extended introduction in the larger collection of miracle stories behind 4:35-5:43.[42] Not only does the unusual command that the young girl be fed that concludes 5:43 lead thematically to the feeding in 6:35-44,[43] but the Elijah/Elisha motif behind Jesus’ raising of Jairus’ daughter also stands behind Jesus’ surprising provision for the crowd here. The latter motif may have given rise to Mark’s own use of the Baptist and Elijah comparison that led into the previous story of the Baptist’s death (6:14-29).[44]

In a recent study, Fowler[45] rejects the thesis of a pre-Markan miracle collection and, after examining 6:30-44 on the basis of vocabulary, style, and themes, has concluded: “The story is Markan from beginning to end,”[46] a Markan “doublet”[47] constructed from the traditional story of 8:1-10. His conclusion runs contrary to the evidence that has led most commentators to take 8:1-10 to be later not earlier than the story in 6:34-44.[48] Although Fowler attributes this story distinctive of Mark with the support of the Markan characteristics in the text (6:35-44; 6:30-34), others do not ascribe this story to the Evangelist. At the same time we also find in the extended introduction (6:32-34) traits of the pre-Markan collector of the miracle stories and the efforts of the pre-Markan redactor to link this narrative with the previous miracle story (Mk 5:21-43). The original introduction to the miracle story lies behind 6:34 with the note of Jesus’ looking on a large crowd with compassion (see, 8:2). Thus using the now familiar theme of Jesus crossing with his disciples “in a boat”[49] “to the other side”[50] to evade the crowds,[51] the collector introduces the crowds drawn from “all the cities,” a hyperbole similar to the broad generalizations in the summaries of 3:7 and 6:53-56.[52]

Mark’s own contribution appears limited to the adapting of 6:31-32 and the additional note in 6:34, “He began to teach them.” But the typically Markan use of ἄρχεσθαι with the infinitive, and the emphasis on Jesus’ teaching point out that it is a Markan work. Again we have Jesus’ teaching as a superscript for a miracle[53] indicating the didactic force of Jesus’ miracles for Mark (6:52).[54]

1.5.2 Markan Theology

Mark´s presentation of Jesus as the teacher and the shepherd is a vivid example of his theological thrust in the text. Mark portrays the people´s sitting order and he also uses big number of people, who ate and were satisfied. Thus he presents Jesus as the eschatological messiah who gives the foretaste of the eschatological meal.

We find in 6:30-34 that Mark has given importance to the discipleship. Obviously Mark’s theology has been primarily eschatological or Christological in character, in addition to that Mark is aiming primarily at the meaning of discipleship. If we observe the structure of mark´s Gospel, he has given ample prominence to the disciples. Thus it is not surprising to say that he aims at the meaning of discipleship. Markan theology merely indicates the diversity of focus and viewpoint in Markan theology. Mark’s gospel about Jesus Messiah, Son of God, however, inherently involves eschatology, Christology, and discipleship. Thus we understand Markan theology as diversified element. Pointing out only one of these themes as primary or important not only distorts the gospel but distorts Mark’s Gospel.[55]

After sending the disciples for the mission, Jesus awaited their return. The interjection of the death of John the Baptist gives the impression that Jesus led the disciples to a lonely place for the security sake. The discipleship of Mark in 6:30 is repeated. Being with Jesus and doing the things of Jesus, teaching and works of power.[56] Through the back reference of the narrator in 6:30 the following section will be connected to the section 6:7-13. We do not experience about the mission of Jesus. The disciples narrated Jesus how their purpose had the manifold effects.[57] Thus here Mark gives importance to the disciples and their mission by omitting to give details about the mission of Jesus during their absence.

When we study the historical background of the feeding narrative it reminds us once again the biblical theological motif. Along with the shepherd motif the context of ordered meal community, the constitutive people of God slowly comes in. We cannot establish the Moses manna typology but the goal of the gift miracle of the E lia-Elischa -Tradition, especially in 2 kings 4:42-44. The historical backgrounds are: joy filled meals, Jesus having the people from all strata and the joy, the viewer receives during the time of healing. Whether the feeding narrative is a compression of messianic meal community or is a special event that the great crowd is included or reflected is difficult to decide. Most probably it is the latter. It stepped up as a post-Easterly remembrance to an overdoing of the Elisha-tradition in a report where Jesus is a final-messianic prophet provider of the crowd.[58] Through this idea of ordered community, Mark brings out his theology of eschatology and Christology.

1.6 Markan Redaction

The vocabulary style and the theme used here in 6:30-34 give us the impression that this could be the result of Markan recdaction. Motifs (the combination of doing and teaching, moments of privacy), vocabulary (συνάγειν, κατʼ ἰδίαν ὄσος,) and style (γάρ-explanatory) support this conclusion. Some of the words and phrases like ἀπόστολοι and the invitation to rest in an “uninhabited place” (Mk 1:35), however, may suggest that Mark has reworked traditional material to form this summary.[59]

His account of the sending in its present form (6:7-13), though based on a historical event and using traditional material for the instructions (6:8-11), comes more from the evangelist’s pen than from a specific traditional unit. The same would most likely obtain for this summary report.[60] By adding the suggestion that the returning disciples seek solitude and rest in order to eat (6:31), the evangelist combines their return from the mission (6:30) with the miracle of the Feeding.[61]

One may trace this story and those that follow, to a “doublet” in the pre-Markan tradition between 6:30(31)-7:37 and 8:1-26 based on the similarity of themes and sequence.[62] Taylor’s[63] examination of this material, however, has shown this similarity extending to certain events (e.g., 6:34-44; 8:1-10) to be more apparent than real when applied to the entire complex. The actual arrangement of the pericope stems for the most part from the evangelist’s use of his tradition.[64] The evangelist use of the tradition and his characteristic words give us the impression that it would have been Markan redaction.

The evangelist has redactionally designed and enlarged the return of the apostles, to the crowd scene.[65] The redactional transition clearly in style of mark proves that knows not more about the success and failure of the sending. Also what Jesus during that time did, of which nothing is said.[66] The section covering verses 31-33 is distinguished through an exceptionally long preface. The research is largely agreed upon that the verses 31-33 are result of Markan redaction. The verse in Mk 6:31 ties with the short reference to the return of the twelve apostles on the sending out narrative. The ministry and the teaching of the disciples take the reference to 6:12f which we could decide as redaction.[67]

The summary section (6:30-33) is either part of the feeding of the five thousand or an independent narrative introducing it (6:34-44). On a larger perspective, the summary section appears to be an introduction to the narrative. This section (6:30-33) is constructed by Mark as a prelude to the account of the breaking of bread in the wilderness. Wellhausen,[68] speaks of it as eine redactionalle Verknüpfungsarbeit, and his view is accepted by many commentators. Mark is carefully weaves the return of the Apostles and crossing of the lake into the feeding story. For the feeding story the crowd is indispensable. So the people go round the lake and arrive at the unknown destination on foot, but more quickly than Jesus who makes the direct Journey by boat. This Markan work seems to be artificial and the later evangelists rightly added no value to it and omitted in their gospels.[69] But this explanation from Wellhausen[70] is open to grave objection. Mark is not the kind of a writer who invents details for literary ends. He may use ‘traditional formulae’ in describing the people coming and going and the disciples without leisure even to eat (3:20), but his narrative is everywhere credible. In particular his portraiture of Jesus beholding the people as sheep without a shepherd is drawn from life. Without doubt Wellhausen´s opinion is also an obvious impression, but this section does greater justice to Mark´s account. It is too simple to consider it as stage scenery in which the actors across the stage like puppets provide a mise en scene (put in the scene) for the story.[71]

Mark has the motive to portray Jesus as teacher thus he transfers this quality to the twelve of his followers. Jesus and disciples’ withdrawal to a lonely place is reflected already in 1:35 and 1: 45. Flocking of the crowd, here dramatically, tied with boat motif, could be repeated as the concern of the evangelist, will be proved.[72] The redaction preface note that states that they (Jesus and his disciples) find no opportunity to eat is also found in 3:20. This note however prepares the available context for the following feeding narrative, so as the retreat to a lonely place becomes a necessary condition for the feeding narrative (6:35). The instances such as the withdrawal to a lonely place, flocking of the crowd, they had no opportunity to eat all, are reflected previously in the Markan texts and are here used with a motive to create a necessary context for the feeding. The difficulty is however with the verse 34. In other places we find the section beginnings with ἐξέρχομαι repeatedly.[73] But we have in 34 the beginning of the feeding narrative the reference to the teaching of Jesus (v.34b) which reveals the Markan motive. He diverts from miracle because he regulates on his teaching. This compassion of Jesus in the second feeding narrative is directed to the hunger of the crowd (8:2). It seems thus the miracle narrative is better prepared. If he has taken such a correction in 34b the basic stand is of 34a with the compassion motive as preset to see. The same pertains for the OT reflection about the sheep without shepherd. It stands for the people of God-thoughts to which the feeding narrative suits in connection and belongs to that.[74] The suggestion of the disciples in 6:36 to send the crowd away, the expression of their lack of understanding so that a concern is reproduced, all these reveal the Markan motives and intentions of portraying Jesus as teacher and miracle worker. Whether 6:34-44 is also a result of Markan redaction or not, this narrative concentrates in special way on the Eucharistic interpretation of the feeding narrative. Van Iersel comes out and ascertains in his thesis of synoptical comparison that the portrayal of Jesus’ blessing the loaves within the different reports relatively stands for the big agreement.[75] One cannot prove the Eucharistic theme involved in the text but we get the impression that Mark is giving a Eucharistic colour to his motive.

1.7 Structure of the Text

Our pericope Mk 6:30-44 has the following structure. The first part is an introductory part to the miraculous feeding which consists of the return of the disciples and withdrawal from the crowd to an unpopulated place where the crowd gathered before the arrival of Jesus and the disciples.

The second part is the miracle story which consists of three divisions.

1. We have a setting in the form of a conversation between Jesus and his disciples (6:35-38).
2. Then comes the actual miracle itself, the feeding of a great crowd with few provisions (6: 39-42).
3. The story concludes with a demonstration of the miracle in which five thousand ate to their fill with food left over (6: 43-44).

2. Literary Analysis of the Text

Mark as he narrates the feeding story also conveys his theological messages to the reader. Therefore the literary analysis tool will be more useful to study the vocabulary, theme and the style and to bring out the meaning behind the text. Pesch[76] takes this unit as beginning of the next major section in Mark (6:30-8:26) developed around the idea of eating (ἐσθίειν). The report of the Twelve resumes and concludes the mission of 6:7-13. By intercalating the Baptist’s death (6:14-29) into the summaries in 6:12-13, 30 the evangelist has created an extended time span in which the activities reported in 6:30 have filled. It is also a message to Herod that the response of the crowd and Jesus’ popularity among the people would not create an easy situation for him to do to Jesus as he had done to John the Baptist. (6:14, 31-34).[77]

2.1 Introductory Part (30-34)

The verses 6:30-33 function as the summary to the mission of the disciples and the verses 6:30-34 function as an introduction to the feeding story. The verse 30 is transitional and has a coherence and connection with the stories in 6:35-56 which in turn connected with the account of the mission of the disciples. The vocabulary used in this part suggests that it is a Markan construction, since all the words, except oi` avpo,stoloi, are common elsewhere in the gospel: suna,gw 2:2; avpagge,llw 5:14; o[sa with poie,w 3:8; dida,skw 1:21. The description of the report given by the twelve has the vagueness which characterizes Mark´s account of the mission; he merely relates that the missionaries reported to Jesus all that they had done and taught. For the conjunction of poie,w and dida,skw see Acts1:1.[78]

2.1.1 Οἱ Avpo,stoloi

Mark uses the word Οἱ Avpo,stoloi only here in 6:30. He also uses that in 3:14 which is disputed by the scholars (they suggest that the phrase here is probably due to assimilation).[79]. One should understand that here this word is used with the meaning that points to their role rather than to their official title or status. This is the only occasion in which they return from their apostolic work and that is why they are suitably called Apostles. Besides this, there could be also another ground for naming the disciples as apostles. Since the preceding verse 6:29 deals with the disciples of John the Baptist, Mark in order to differentiate Jesus´ disciples from them, calls them Οἱ Avpo,stoloi. It also indicates the time of its usage and the primitive character of Mark.

“The apostles” (ἀπόστολοι) occurs only here and in a disputed reading in 3:14. Contextually, it picks up the ἀποστέλλειν of 6:7 and designates those sent as the “sent ones” or “missionaries.” It points primarily to their role rather than their status, so there is no reason to take the term as a title, “the Apostles”.[80] Yet in the broader context of the early Church, by Mark’s day ἀπόστολος had definitely become a technical term for the Apostles. Consequently, it would be almost impossible for Mark’s readers to read “apostles” without the larger context coloring its meaning here.[81] Taken functionally, “apostle” carries more significance than either the term “sent one” or “missionary” expresses today. With its background in formative Judaism’s use of aשליח, (šālīaḥ) ἀπόστολος denotes an official, an authorized representative or agent either of a person or a group (e.g., a synagogue). This agent operates in the name of the one having given the authorization. Therefore, the term “apostles” and their action of reporting to Jesus demonstrate the Twelve’s dependent relationship to Jesus. Their mission was an extension of his mission.[82]

It indicates a time when the word had fairly specific functional meanings, carrying the sense of commissioning for work associated with Jesus himself (e.g., Preaching and exorcism)[83] This name is suitable here in the context since they had been sent out by Jesus in 6:7. Here we must note that the title apostle is Post-Easter origin. This way their post-Easter mission to the people will be prepared, indeed in the history of Jesus.[84]

2.1.2 Disciples Mission

The sending of the disciples emphasizes the Markan theology of discipleship. And it refers back to the disciples´ mission in 6:12-13 where they, like Jesus proclaim the need for conversion and perform exorcisms and healings. The verse 6:30 repeats the essence of discipleship for Mark: being with Jesus and doing the things of Jesus´ teaching and works of power (1:16-20; 3:7-12).[85]

All they did and taught” (πάντα ὅσα ἐποίησαν καὶ ὅσα ἐδίδαξαν) summarizes their mission endeavors. Here it is not explicit what they really did as a mission. What they “did” (ἐποίησαν) obviously included the exorcisms and healings mentioned in 6:13 and perhaps even the preaching of 6:12. Typical of Mark, however, the Twelve also report their ministry of “teaching” in keeping with the evangelist´s accent on Jesus´ ministry of “teaching”. Here again we see the essential relationship between the mission of the Twelve and that of Jesus.[86] Since the details of the mission is clearly explained in 6:12-13 here Mark brings it as a summary statement and establishes their relationship with Jesus by writing ‘they reported to him’.

2.1.3 Significance of the Place

Although in other places of the Gospel of Mark we find Jesus going to a lonely or uninhabited place to pray, here it is used with a significance of spending time with the disciples after their mission. “Desterted place” (ἔρημος τόπος) occurs in 1:35, 45 where Jesus attempts to move out of the towns and villages away from the people. This phrase in 6:35 might have been used in view of the following story to provide the setting for Jesus’ feeding of the multitude. Here it signifies a place of privacy away from the town or village so that Jesus can spend time only with the disciples. But 6:35 shows, as in 1:45, that an uninhabited place does not guarantee privacy.[87] The Choice of Place serves both to link and to set the story.

Since Wellhausan, the suggestion has frequently been made that Jesus´ withdrawal from public activity was motivated by his fear that Herod Antipas, who linked him with John the Baptist (6:14-16), would treat him in the same brutal way he had treated John. But nothing is said about such a motivation in our passage, and it seems more in keeping with the sequence of events and with Markan theology in general to suggest that John’s death prompts Jesus to devote more concentrated attention to the disciples who will take his place after his own death.[88]

To rest for a while” (ἀναπαύσασθε ὀλίγον) implies the necessity of the disciples finding some time to recuperate after their mission. Unlike the references to Jesus´ desire to be alone for prayer,[89] this is a call for the disciples to rest and it stands out in Mark´s Gospel. It may well reflect the same attitude as the following reference to Jesus´ compassionate response to the “sheep without a shepherd” (6:34) and it expresses his concern for his disciples who have been so preoccupied with the comings and goings of the people that they could not even find time to eat.[90] Jesus´ proposal that they go “to an unpopulated place” (εἰς ἔρημον τόπον) and rest a little while, recalls the scene in 1:35 when Jesus “rose early in the morning, while it was still very dark, went out, and went away to an unpopulated place, and began to pray there” (πρωΐ ἔννυχα λίαν ἀναστὰς ἐξῆλθεν καὶ ἀπῆλθεν εἰς ἔρημον τόπον κἀκεῖ προσηύχετο). The similarity suggests that here Jesus proposes a time of rest and perhaps prayer so that the disciples can renew themselves after the intense activity of their itinerant preaching, exorcising, and healing (vv.12-13).[91] The people knowing their intention gathered there to listen to Jesus and to get healed of their diseases. The strong wind could have slowed the speed of the boat that the people reached that place before them and the place became ‘populated,’ the same situation depicted in 6:47a, 48a where the strong wind blocked their travel that they remained in the midst of the sea.

2.1.4 Specification of the Place

Mark does not specify clearly the unpopulated place. Therefore we assume that Mark has in view a place on the northwestern shore (such as the traditional site at Tabgha) which is not too far from Capernaum and on the same side of the Jordan inflow (which would make the pursuit by the crowd on foot in verse 33 easier to imagine), Jesus´ disciples then sent in verse 45 eastwards towards Bethsaida on the other side of the Jordan inflow, but beaten back by a northeast wind and hence finishing up in the opposite direction at Gennesaret.[92] Thus we make the assumption on the place of this narrative.

We find the common association of the ‘wilderness’ (τόπος, 1:4, 13) with an “uninhabited place” (ἔρημος τόπος, 1:35). But neither the underlying tradition nor the evangelist gives an identity or even a typology between the two. The locale remains unidentified in Mark. Luke 9:10 (eivj po,lin kaloume,nhn Bhqsai?da) places it near Bethsaida; accoding to John 6:1 (pe,ran th/j qala,sshj th/j Galilai,aj th/j Tiberia,doj) it is near Tiberias.[93] The e;rhmoς to,poς maz have been in the neighborhood of a town (see, 1:35,45) the conflate reading in Lk, ivdi,an eivj po,lin kaloume,nhn Bhqsai?da, is probably right as an interpretation. John´s recollection is that the spot lay across the Lake shews near Bethsaida Julias.[94]

In Luke 9:10, the feeding took place in Bethsaida, on the north of the lake, eastern side of the mouth of Jordan. According to Mark 6:45 (and 8:22!) it lies on the other side of the riverbank which corresponds supposedly of the tradition. Probably Mark thinks of the place feeding somewhere on the west bank, so that Jesus could go little further that the people could follow him. John 6:1, 17 locates the feeding on the east bank, for, the subsequent lake crossing leads to Capernaum on the west bank.[95] Thus evangelists are using different locations to present the feeding narratives.

2.1.5 Setting to the Feeding

Mark describes a situation which gives the setting to the feeding story. Apostles arrival after their mission; crossing the lake by boat in search of unpopulated place and the unpopulated place became populated by the crowd these sequence of incidents are good setting for the feeding story. The boat travel is mentioned in 5:21 which indicates their return to the area near Capernaum after visiting the Decapolis. On this occasion, the implication is that they are going by boat to an unpopulated area, away from Capernaum. The rest of the verse recapitulates the proposal of Jesus in verse 31.[96] “Many saw them going … ran there on foot from all the cities” (6, 33) expresses the futility of the disciples’ quest for solitude. At the same time, it leads into the feeding of the “multitude” in 6:35-44. “Arrived ahead of them” (προῆλθον) completes the setting by having the crowds on hand for Jesus’ show of compassion (6:34; see, 8:2) when he disembarks.[97] Jesus, the disciples and the crowd, all are in one place and set for the feeding miracle.

In creating this transitional scene, the collector of the pre-Markan miracle stories may well show more familiarity with the geography of the area than is generally assumed.[98] If one thinks of Jesus crossing the sea from east to west by boat[99] it does indeed stretch one’s imagination to think that a crowd could outrun him by foot. But if one thinks more in terms of the many coves along the western shores of the sea between Tiberias and Bethsaida, such a feat by an enthusiastic crowd is not so stupendous,[100] and it hardly requires a “premeditated” rendezvous.[101]

‘Go to the other side’ expresses the shifting of the stage scenery in that case, Jesus´ proposal of verse 32, that they go to an unpopulated place to be by themselves, contrasts sharply with the result of their attempt to be alone. Many people saw the boat, recognized Jesus and the disciples, anticipated the place to which they were heading, traveled there by land, and arrived before the boat landed. So the unpopulated place became ‘populated’ before Jesus and the disciples could rest there.[102] Crossing the lake brought them to another situation rather than another place.

2.1.6 Shepherd Motif

Mark has the motive to present Jesus as the shepherd who cares for the Israel. The sheep without shepherd is a proverbial metaphor used to indicate the leaderless Israel. We should note that in this narrative Jesus compassionate activity is teaching. In the Israelite tradition Torah was considered as the guidance during when there was no leaders in the Israel. The verse 6:34 most likely contains remnants of an earlier tradition of the Feeding miracle. Jesus reacts with “compassion” when he sees the crowds rather than with agitation at not being able to get away from the public (6:30-31). But his “compassion” here does not grow out of the urgency of this situation (8:2), but out of his concern for them as “sheep without a shepherd.”[103]

“Sheep without a shepherd” reflects an OT image used of Israel (Num 27:17; 1 Kgs 22:17; Ezek 34:5) and introduces one of several OT motifs that appear in the following story. It places the miracle under the motif of Jesus as the good shepherd, the promised eschatological shepherd, who feeds the sheep.[104] This perspective may well hold the Christological key to this miracle story in which Jesus provides food and table fellowship for the multitude.[105]

Mark presentation of Jesus’ role as teacher particularly within the context of his healing and exorcism ministry (1:21-27; 6:2-3) points to Mark´s perception of the didactic role of Jesus´ total ministry. Thus we may assume this sentence “And he began to teach them” (ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αὐτούς) as Mark’s redactional work.[106] To say that Mark changes the thrust of Jesus’ compassionate response from feeding to teaching[107] draws too great a contrast between the evangelist´s emphasis on Jesus´ ‘teaching’ and his “mighty works.”[108] One could assume that the crowds had come to see and hear Jesus and that he had fulfilled their wishes.[109]

2.2. Miraculous Feeding (6:35-44)

After the long introduction, Mark begins the miraculous feeding with a conversation between Jesus and the disciples. This conversation contains the disciples´ initiative to send the people away so that they may buy food for themselves and Jesus´ answer and disciples´ surprise reaction. Mark intends to portray Jesus as greater miracle worker than Elisha. While Elisha provided 100 men with 20 loaves (2kg 4:42-44), here Jesus feeds a multitude with fewer provisions. Jesus searches the option to feed the crowd. The question “How much do you have?” is directed to both the disciple and the crowd with an intention on the part of Jesus to provide for them and to share with them. Jesus´ order to make the people sit in hundreds and fifties reflects Moses´ camping order. Jesus´ blessing formula is a Jewish gesture and it also has the Eucharistic connotations.

2.2.1 Conversation between Jesus and his Disciples (6:35-38)

In his conversation with the disciples, Jesus is very much positive about the feeding of the crowd but the disciples express the impossibility of doing so. Mark portrays disciples´ response as their lack of understanding, which is mentioned earlier in 4:13, 41 and it is more pronounced here. It stands in ironic tension with their preceding mission as commissioned agents of Jesus´ ministry (6:7-13, 30) to heal, exorcise and preach repentance, as the presence of the crowds suggest, with great success. The opening dialogue between the disciples and Jesus (6:35-38) reveals their confusion. But the evangelist highlights their failure to understand the significance of the miracle itself in his comment at the end of the next story in 6:52.[110] Even if they had the money, and enough bread was available for sale in the neighbourhood,why should they spend so large a sum as two hundred denarii (more than half a year’s wages) on food for a crowd of strangers? We can find the similar exchange in 2 Ki. 4:42-43.[111]

2.2.2 Feeding the Crowd with few Provisions (39-42)

The feeding with few provisions is to show the power of Jesus. He is not discouraged by the response of the disciples, instead insists on an inventory of food available (in the boat?). The small amount of basic Galilean rations which they find (the ἄρτοι were probably round, flat loaves, large enough at most for one person for a day) is remarkable, since Jesus and his disciples had set out for a period in an ἔρημος τόπος, and might have been expected to take food with them for the length of their stay, but Mark does not notice the problem. At any rate, from the disciples’ point of view the disappointing result of their search puts an end to any thought of their providing food for the crowd.[112] Moses´ Camping Order

The sitting groups of hundreds and fifties reflects the camping order of Moses. Jethro, Moses´ father-in-law advised him to delegate his leadership. Thus he could share his responsibility by appointing honest and god-fearing men to lead the people in different groups (Ex.18:18-25). Jesus orders the crowd to “be seated,” to take their normal positions for a meal (“to recline”-ἀνακλῖναι), in “companies” (συμπόσια), a word connoting a special kind of bond. It is used of a “drinking party, a banquet.”[113] Through Jesus people come into a new relationship and fellowship. This relationship has an order. Here the arrangement in groups according to fifties and hundreds doubtless has more than a utilitarian function. In Ex. 18:25 (Num 31:14) Moses arranged the Israelites in groups of 1000, 500, 100, and 10 under their respective leaders. The Qumran literature takes such groupings as an eschatological model for their own sectarian life[114] and specifically for the messianic banquet.[115] Thus, the arrangement points back to the time of God´s miraculous provision for the needs of the people in the wilderness and hints at the eschatological moment in the gathering of God´s people into communities at the end time.[116] Jesus´ command to get all the people sit down on the grass is a hint on the Pascal feast or a single motive from Ps 23:2.[117] Since Qumran community also takes this order to show the eschatological order in the messianic banquet, here the sitting order in the feeding reflects the messianic banquet. Blessed God for the Bread

The gesture of Jesus taking the bread and the fish looked up the heaven implies that he blessed God for the bread. This is gesture reflects the role of a Jewish father before the meal but with a difference. The normal Jewish gesture is looking down and praying but Jesus looks up to God for the power in order to perform the miracle. With this gesture the miracle follows without attracting unnecessary attention.

Only one difference stands out. After taking (λαβών) the bread (literally “the five breads” [τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους], commonly rendered “the loaves”) and the two fish, he “looked to heaven” (ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν) and offered the blessing (εὐλὀγησεν; see, 8:6). Some commentators have found the gesture of prayer contrary to the normal Jewish gesture of looking down when praying.[118] And since in 7:34 and in John 11:41 we find a similar gesture of prayer just prior to a miracle, they have assumed that Jesus looked to God for the power to do this mighty work while saying the blessing.[119] Breaking - Dividing

We should notice the language pertained to the bread and the fish. Breaking is suitable to the bread and dividing is suitable to the fish and we do not say breaking the fish which is not practical with hand. After blessing and breaking of the bread then the next course of meal does not need a blessing or prayer again. Thus we do not have blessing over the fish. Jesus then broke (κατέκλασεν; see, 8:6) the finger-thick, plate-shaped “loaves” (τοὺς ἄρτους) and gave (ἐδίδου) them to the disciples to distribute. This follows the normal pattern of the meal in which the father or the host blesses God for the bread, then breaks it and passes it to the others as a sign of the beginning of the meal.[120] Then he divided the fish for all (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἐμέρισεν πᾶσιν). The difference in language pertains to the foods involved rather than a secondary addition.[121] The “breaking” of the bread is a formulaic expression signifying the beginning of the meal as well as the rite of eating in the Jewish household. It only secondarily has to do with “dividing” the bread for distribution. Since one does not formally give a blessing over the main course or “break fish” as one “breaks bread,” it is not surprising that Jesus simply “divides” (ἐμερόσεν) the fish for all to eat.[122] Analyzing the Meal Procedure

We also note the similar meal procedure in Qumran (1 QS 22,1f; CD13, 1; 1 QM 4, 1-5.16f; 1QSa 1,14f.28f). The meal procedure, which corresponds to the Jewish meal sitting, clearly recognizes the reminiscent on the last supper (14:22-25).[123] Although we understand the meal procedure with a practical and literal sense we also have some Eucharistic flavor. Emphasis on the ‘Bread’

We also notice an emphasis on the ‘bread’ in the story.[124] The statement about the fish appears less developed. This is particularly true of the leftovers in 6:43 where “and from the fish” sounds like an afterthought. And if “the loaves” (τοὺς ἄρτους) is to be read in 6:44, the story clearly concluded without further mention of the fish.[125] Consequently, some have seen Eucharistic overtones behind these words,[126] and Achtemeier has located the miracle catenae in a “Eucharistic liturgy” based on the two Feeding miracles.[127] Yet significant differences make a Eucharistic interpretation at best remote.[128] Thus one may say there is an indirect tendency towards the Eucharist. Objections

The Eucharistic interpretation has some objections. In the Eucharistic meal or in the last supper we find the constitutional words and the elements like the cup which we don´t find in the feeding narrative. Roloff gives three important notes as objections.

- First, the absence of wine and the presence of fish speak against its ever having been taken as a Eucharistic meal (see, Matt 14:19).
- Secondly, and most importantly, the words ‘took’ (λαβών), ‘blessed’ (εὐλόγησεν), ‘broke’ (κατέκλασεν) and ‘gave’ (ἐδίδου) that appear reminiscent of the Lord´s Supper (14:22) are not themselves evidence of a Eucharistic meal (see, Acts 27:35) and cannot mask the absence of “This is my body/blood” which makes the Lord’s Supper unique.
- Thirdly, the gathering of the leftovers plays a significant role in the miracle story but has no place in the Lord´s Supper.

These three points give us the impression that Jesus´ blessing, breaking and giving of the loaves and dividing the fish are the normal procedures for an average meal in a Jewish household.[129] Indirect Influence

The text is hardly constructed or modified to reflect a Eucharistic meal. The prominence given to the bread throughout and the inescapable similarity in the language to that of the beginning of the Lord´s Supper (which in itself uses the language and custom of the Jewish meal) may reflect influence from the Lord´s Supper liturgy on the wording of 6:41. This influence explains why the fish are given a lesser role, especially in the parallel accounts in Matthew and Luke.[130] This indirect influence becomes even more evident when the second Feeding comes into consideration (8:1-10).[131]

2.2.3 Conclusion with the Demonstration (6:43-44)

The miracles in the gospel have a surprise note after witnessing the miracle itself. But on the contrary here in this feeding narrative we find the effect of the miracle demonstrated. The ‘how’ of the miracle is not mentioned or takes place as though it were nothing out of the ordinary. There is no astonishment on the part of the crowd to the event and the disciples carry out their task without comment. Yet the disciples’ awareness and lack of understanding do come into play again in 6:52 for Mark. Consequently, one of the most spectacular of Jesus’ miracles takes place essentially unnoticed.[132]

We could notice that in the beginning there was a need of food for the crowd but now “all ate and were filled.” By this sentence we are confirmed of the miracle. The need of the moment, food for an evening meal, had been met. “All” (πάντες) had eaten to their satisfaction (ἐχορτάσθησαν).[133] Twelve Baskets

The greatness of the miracle is demonstrated through the description of gathering of “twelve baskets” of leftovers. “Basket” (κοφίνος) refers to an apparently distinctively Jewish basket which is characteristic of a poorer class of Jews in Rome.[134] The word pieces of leftovers again specify only the bread which was broken.

“And fish” (καὶ ἀπὸ τῶγ ἰχθύων) appears almost as an afterthought. “Pieces” (κλάσματα) could have included both bread and fish, though only the bread was “broken” (κατέκλασεν; 6:41). But “the loaves” of 6:44-either originally or later-indicates the prominence of the “bread” motif. So “and fish” picks up the fish of 6:41 and balances the story that tends to accent the bread and de-emphasize the fish (Matt 14:15-21; Luke 9:12-17).[135]

The number of baskets signifies the abundance of food which shows the eschatological significance of the feeding as God´s gracious, abundant provision which is characteristic of the age of salvation.[136] The number ‘Twelve’ has a symbolic reference to the twelve Apostles in contrast to the ‘seven’ in 8:1-9 which refers symbolically to the Seven ‘Deacons’ of the ‘Hellenists’ of Acts 6:1-6[137] or the twelve tribes of Israel in contrast to the seven or seventy nations (Gentiles) of the world.[138] Thus we can assume that through this feeding Jesus´ ministry is focused to the ‘Jews’ and through the Feeding of the four thousand his ministry attributed to the ‘Gentiles.’[139] Five Thousand Men

Mark writes “Five thousand men” (πεντακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες) which specifies most likely ‘men’ rather than ‘persons’ (see, 8:9) which includes both men and women. Matt 14:21 writes this “without women and children.” Mark probably does not wish to imply that only men ate while the women and children went hungry. He wants either to convey the impression that there were no women or children present, or he is echoing the OT passages by only counting the men; in view of the strong exodus typology of our passage, the latter is more likely.[140] As Lohmeyer points out, this is an astoundingly huge number, considering that cities such as Capernaum and Bethsaida contained approximately two or three thousand inhabitants.[141] The five thousand men may be related to the five loaves of bread. If we assume that this was a gathering of patriots with an insurrectionary motive, in that case the exclusion of women and children is probable. But the text does not mention any such motive.


In this chapter using the literary critical method we have made a preliminary analysis of the text. First, we have done the delimitation of the text (Mk 6, 30-44), and with some textual critical notes we had the provisional translation in order to understand the literary context of the text. Secondly, we made some analysis on the Markan theology and Markan redaction. Thirdly, with the studying the structure of the text we brought out the different aspects of the meaning of the text. Thus we have made a concrete ground for the study of the second feeding narrative in the second chapter.

Chapter 2 The Feeding of the Four Thousand in Mark: 8:1-10


In the previous chapter, we made the literary analysis on the feeding of the five thousand in Mk 6: 30-44. Thus we have made some background for the comparative analysis of the two feeding narratives in Mark. In this chapter, we shall examine the second feeding narrative namely, the feeding of the four thousand in Mark 8:1-10. This chapter consists of the delimitation of the text, its textual criticism, literary genre, literary context and Redaction criticism and the its proposed structure.

1. Preliminary Considerations

In this section we establish the text of our study (8:1-10). In order to establish it, we shall have some discussions on the delimitation of the pericope. As we did to the previous narrative, here also we study the dramatic criterion of the text and bring out information with regards to the time of its occurrence, location and its characters. Then we offer a provisional translation of the text in English. We shall study a few textual critical notes offered by Metzger and Taylor with regards to our pericope´s prehistory and composition. We try to situate the text in its literary context. We also learn the literary form of the text. We also study the Markan redaction in this text, in order to understand his motive for doing so. We shall then study the structure of the text to bring out the meaning of the text.

1.1. Delimitation of the Text

Here the unit under our consideration is Mk 8:1-10. Applying the dramatic criterion to our pericope we observe the change of character, place, and of time. The text that precedes ours, 7:31-37 narrates Jesus healing the deaf near Galilean sea after he had traveled from the region of Tyre and Sidon. And the text that immediately follows ours 8:11-13 narrates Pharisees´ testing of Jesus by asking him for a sign. Thus Mk 8:1-10 stays as an independent text and speaks only of Jesus feeding the four thousand.

1.1.1. Location

The text does not explicitly state the location, where the feeding of the four thousand took place. We read in 7:24 that Jesus went to the region of Tyre and encountered the syro-phonesian woman. In 7:31 he comes at last to the Sea of Galilee. This gives us the hint that this feeding also could have taken place along the Sea of Galilee.

It is often assumed that the feeding of five thousand took place in a Jewish region in order to express Jesus´ beneficence to Jews and the feeding of four thousand took place in a Gentile region and was directed to Gentiles.[142] However, we should remember that the implied setting of the latter in Mark is also Galilee.[143] We propose however, that though the miracle took place near the Sea of Galilee, it is oriented towards the gentiles. In order to make our ground firm, we turn to Mark’s own setting of the story. Despite the fact that the narrative is placed in Galilee, (Jesus reaches the Sea of Galilee in 7:31).[144] we find that the healing of the deaf-mute takes place in the area of the Decapolis[145] which Jesus does after an extended journey to it from Tyre through Sidon. One should note that Mark does not change the venue for this miracle but links it with the miracles and happenings in the gentile region by the phrase “in those days” (8:1). After the miracle, Jesus embarks on a boat with his disciples and departs for Dalmanutha, a place unknown to us but assumed to be on the western shore (8:10). This too would suggest the feeding took place for Mark on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Therefore, Mark´s narrative framework places this story in gentile territory.[146]

1.1.2 Temporal Setting

The time information in this text is general. The words ‘those days’ loosely connects to the preceding healing narrative (31-37). The verse ‘they are with me for three days’ gives us the information about duration of the time, the crowd stayed with Jesus. But it does not give us the information as to what Jesus had done with the crowd for three days and how they had managed to have food during those three days.

1.1.3 Setting for the Crowd

Unlike the feeding narrative in 6: 30-44, here the setting for the crowd is general and bare. The information about the crowd is vague and unclear. We assume this crowd could have gathered there to listen to Jesus after witnessing the healing of the deaf-mute in 7:35-36. This connection of the crowd gathering after seeing the healing and hearing Jesus´ teaching is Markan style of presentation. We find this in other places of the gospel too. See, Mk 1:31-32, 45; 2:2; 3:7-8, 20; 4:1-2; 6:32-44.

“There was again a great crowd” (πάλιν πολλοῦ ὄξλου ὄντος) renders one of the two genitive absolutes,[147] and the resumptive “again” (πάλιν) points back to the first Feeding of a “great crowd” (πολὺν ὄχλον) in 6:34. But in this story Jesus initiates the feeding by summoning the disciples (προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς μαθητάς). Although the presence of the disciples with Jesus is not mentioned since 7:17, the narrative implies it during the intervening events.[148] Above all, the presence of the crowd is merely noted here, whereas their gathering is described elaborately in 6:31-34.[149]

1.2 Provisional Translation

1. Ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις πάλιν πολλοῦ ὄχλου ὄντος καὶ μὴ ἐχόντων τί φάγωσιν, προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς μαθητὰς λέγει αὐτοῖς·

In those days there was again[150] a great crowd that did not have anything to eat. Summoning the disciples, he (Jesus) said to them,

2. ..σπλαγχνίζομαι ἐπὶ τὸν ὄχλον, ὅτι ἤδη ἡμέραι τρεῖς προσμένουσίν μοι καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσιν τί φάγωσιν·

“I have compassion on the crowd because they have stayed with me three days[151] and have not had anything to eat.

3. καὶ ἐὰν ἀπολύσω αὐτοὺς νήστεις εἰς οἶκον αὐτῶν, ἐκλυθήσονται ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ· καί τινες αὐτῶν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἥκασιν.

If I send them home without food, they will collapse on the way. Some of them come from a long distance.”

4. καὶ ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι πόθεν τούτους δυνήσεταί τις ὧδε χορτάσαι ἄρτων ἐπ᾽ ἐρημίας;

His disciples asked him, “From what source can anyone fill these people with bread here in the wilderness?”

5. καὶ ἠρώτα αὐτούς· πόσους ἔχετε ἄρτους; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· ἑπτά.

He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.”

6. καὶ παραγγέλλει τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς· καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν, καὶ παρέθηκαν τῷ ὄχλῳ.

He commanded the crowd to recline on the ground. Taking the seven loaves and giving thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to serve, and they served them to the crowd.

7. καὶ εἶχον ἰχθύδια ὀλίγα· καὶ εὐλογήσας αὐτὰ εἶπεν καὶ ταῦτα παρατιθέναι.

They also had a few small fish. Blessing these,[152] Jesus told them to serve these also.

8. καὶ ἔφαγον καὶ ἐχορτάσθησαν, καὶ ἦραν περισσεύματα κλασμάτων ἑπτὰ σπυρίδας.

They ate and were filled. And there were seven large baskets of leftover pieces.

9. ἦσαν δὲ ὡς τετρακισχίλιοι. καὶ ἀπέλυσεν αὐτούς.

About four thousand were present, and he sent them away.

1.3 Textual Criticism

The word εὐλογήσας gives us the impression that by the influence of the liturgical tradition it is assimilated here in the text.

v. 8.7 εὐλογήσας αὐτά {B}[153] “The reading εὐχαριστήσας (D 1009 itd, q) appears to be a scribal assimilation to verse 6. Of the other readings the one chosen for the text has the best external support. Several witnesses omit the pronoun either as superfluous (in view of the following ταῦτα) or perhaps as inappropriate (Jesus blessed God’s name, not the fishes)”.[154]

Usually Mark uses the general names of the places like ‘beside the sea’ but the specifically mentioning the name Dalmanoutha is unusual to Mark and the place name is unknown to us. In v. 8:10, τὰ μέρη Δαλμανουθά {B} “Two sets of variant readings are involved. The reading τὰ μέρη, supported by almost all the uncials[155] and by many important minuscules[156] (אA B C K L X Δ Θ Π f 1 f13 33 565 700 al), is clearly to be preferred; its synonym τὰ ὅρια (which occurs in the parallel passage in Mt 15.39) and the readings derivative from τὰ ὅρια (τὰ ὄρη and τὸ ὄρος) lack adequate support. Dalmanutha (read by all uncials except D) is a place of uncertain location. Puzzled by the word, which occurs nowhere else,[157] copyists replaced it by Μαγεδά́ (ν) or Μαγδαλά, readings that occur in the parallel passage in Matthew (15.39)”.[158]

1.4 Literary Genre

In its content and message this feeding narrative also is similar to that of the previous feeding 6, 30-44. Thus we may consider this section also under the category of the ‘gift miracle’.

Consequently, we find greater development of the opening dialogue, little description of the actual miracle, and no response by those involved. In contrast to the feeding of the five thousand, this setting represents one of dire need (8:1-2), a typical trait of miracle stories.[159] Theissen defines this account as a ‘gift miracle’ and notes that such miracles are never initiated by requests. The motif ‘initiative of the miracle-worker’ is typical of gift miracles.[160]

1.5 Literary Context

This feeding narrative comes within the large section of Galilean ministry (1:14-9:50) which is divided into a summary of Jesus’ work in eastern Galilee (1:14-7:23) to which Capernaum was the main centre and his later ministry in northern Galilee (7:24-9:50) which consists the feeding of the four thousand in 8: 1-9. We find the first feeding account (6:35-44) much more integrated into its literary context than this account. In 8:11-13, Jesus is tested by the Pharisees demanding a sign and Jesus rebukes them with following question, “why this generation asks for a sign?”, hinting that by feeding the four thousand a sign has already been given. In the following text 8: 14-21 we see that when the disciples worry about not having brought enough bread with them, Jesus reminds them of the two feedings in which such a large crowd ate and were satisfied even though there were little amount of bread available. This is a clear message that the disciples need not worry about the bread when he is with them. Thus an answer to the Pharisees’ demand for a sign (8:11-13) comes here in this section. And it is an explanation to the disciples and a call to understand the meaning of the two feedings.

In Mark, the setting of the story is critical in order to convey its significance. We tend to think that this narrative is a duplication or repetition of the feeding of the five thousand. We do not find adequate basis in this narrative, to consider it as a different miracle story. But its setting in the pre-Markan tradition and certainly in Mark’s context may supply the clue, the purpose for which the evangelist used this story at this point in his narrative.[161] This narrative remains part of the larger ‘doublet’ which is not supported by some authors. We find some of the Hellenistic thaumaturgic characteristics of a miracle before and after this narrative that give us the impression why Mark placed this second feeding here.

Several have assigned the story to a larger “doublet” in 6:35-7:37 and 8:1-26[162] but this hypothesis has not held up. Mark 8:11-13 hardly represents a doublet of 7:1-23 nor can 8:22-26 be a doublet of 7:31-37.[163] Mark, however, may well have found this miracle story in combination with 7:24-30; 7:31-37 and 8:22-26.[164] We have noted the “hellenistic” thaumaturgic traits of 7:31-37 whose closest parallel among the miracle stories of Mark comes in 8:22-26, which has been paired with it (see 8:22-26). The Syrophoenician story has obvious “hellenistic” overtones (see 7:24-30). Such a grouping in the tradition would account for the “hellenistic” blessing in 8:7 and perhaps color the more neutral elements such as “from a long distance” and “giving thanks”. Such a collection of traditional materials would also explain why Mark took it as a second miracle of Feeding and used it in his present location.[165]

Thus Mark’s placement of this miracle in a gentile literary context gives us the clue that in order to focus Jesus’ ministry for the Gentiles this narrative has been given gentile colour.

1.6 Markan Redaction

There are differences of opinion with regard to the view of Markan redaction. A few interpreters have assigned this story to Mark’s redaction[166] others argue for the “historical integrity” of the account, and Fowler argues that this feeding represents the earlier tradition from which Mark developed 6:30-44.[167] But the vast majority of commentators have viewed this story as a ‘doublet’ of 6:34-44, a variant tradition of the same story.[168]

1.6.1 Counter Claim

Although we find in this account the redactional work of Mark, some words which are recorded as having been used only once, counter the claim that this could be a Markan redaction.

Within this one sentence (8:1) we find several characteristically Markan words or phrases such as the resumptive use of πάλιν, a “great crowd” (πολλοῦ ὄχλου, 4:1), and προσκαλεῖσθαι at the beginning of a pericope (6:7).[169] The opening of this account reflects the wording of the source, with the possible exception of πάλιν (“again”).[170] Redactionally, the hapax Legomena [171] (e.g., προσμένειν (to remain, stay with), ἐκλὐειν, περίσσευμα, ἐρημία, σπύρις), the forms unique to Mark (e.g., εἶχον, ἥκησιν, δυνήσεται) and the difference between εὐχαριστἠσας in 8:6 and εὐλογήσας in 14:22 counter the claim for this being a Markan redactional doublet. Most assign Mark’s thumbprint to the opening (8:1) and ending (8:9b) of the account.[172]

1.6.2 Hellenistic Redaction

Jesus´ handling of the fish separately is perceived to be an insertion and considered to be the effect of the influence of the liturgical tradition or could be a hellenistic redaction work.

Even though we find the tendency to align the details with the Lord´s Supper, it remains most unlikely that the story which included fish originally without doubt (See, 6:34-44), should have been so stylized along the lines of the Lord´s Supper that the fish were totally eliminated and only later should have been reintroduced awkwardly by a ‘Hellenistic’ redactor.[173] Rather the isolation of the fish with its own blessing most likely reflects the influence of the Lord´s Supper liturgy on the story that eventually led to describing Jesus´ handling of the fish separately but parallel to the loaves by a community unfamiliar with the Jewish blessing formulas.[174] Thus we learn by not mentioning the fish along with the bread shows the influence of the Lord´s supper Liturgy and the inclusion of the fish with Jesus´ blessing (8:7) shows the work of the Hellenistic redactor.

1.6.3 No Constitutive Evidence

Although the size of the fish does not make big issue here, the depiction of blessing the fish separately which we do not find in the first feeding gives us the doubt whether it is a redaction work. But the two different Greek words used for blessing of the loaves do not give us the convincing evidence to the claim that it is an outcome of redaction work.

Although we find the word ἰχθύδιον (fish, 8:7) in diminutive form, it probably does not have a diminutive meaning in Mark’s colloquial usage.[175] Also we should note that the size of the fish is not important for the miracle story. The miracle consists in the feeding of four thousand people with only seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Jesus is depicted as ‘blessing’ the fish (or blessing God over the fish) here, but he ‘gave thanks’ over the bread (v.6). This discrepancy may have played a role in the inclination of Bultmann to take this verse as an addition to the text based on 6:34-44. Because of the diversity and fluidity of the late second Temple Jewish prayers and also in the early Christian prayers we may find the variation in the words used for blessing but this is not a constitutive evidence for the redactional character of verse 7.[176]

1.6.4 Formal Dismissal

The phrase ‘he sent them away’ (8:9) has a formal function which comes at the end of the narrative. The willingness to send them away arises out of the further commitment or out of the need to be alone and pray not only because they are well fed and therefore no chance to collapse on their way (8:3).

“And he sent them away” (καὶ ἀπέλυσεν αὐτούς) represents the formal dismissal (6:45). Although several assign it to Mark’s redaction,[177] it does have a formal function in a story that ends as did the first feeding without a formal response. It also functions as the miracle demonstration. In 8:3 he did not dare to send them because they might collapse on the way due to hunger. Not only had they eaten to their fill, they were able now to depart without risk. Their need had been amply met.[178] The people were with him for three days in which they should have listened to him and got cured of their diseases and also they were physically fed. Thus all their needs are met with.

1.7 Structure of the Text

We find in this miracle story certain basic elements which are essential to a miracle account in the NT or elsewhere.

The following elements give a form to the miracle stories that involve a thaumaturge:[179]

- A situation beyond the human control is described;
- The thaumaturge becomes aware of or involved in the situation;
- Then he works a wondrous change in it;
- Proof of the change is adduced;
- The spectators are astonished.[180]

This form is similar to our text 8: 1-10.

1. setting the stage (Mk 8:1-3).
2. Emphasizing the impossibility (Mk 8:4). (A situation beyond the human control is described).
3. Searching options (Mk 8: 5). (The Thaumaturge involved in the situation).
4. Occurrence of the miracle (Mk 8:6-7). (He works a wondrous change in it).
5. Satisfaction of the Crowd (Mk 8:8).
6. Sending the people and leaving the place (Mk 8: 9-10).

2. Literary Critical Analysis

Since this text narrates a miracle event we use the literary critical method to extract the implied meaning and the significance. Mark uses some words like ‘far’ to denote the gentiles and he describes a situation in which the people need to be satisfied of their physical hunger. Thus the numbers and the words to denote the significance of the event itself give us the thrust to use this method as the tool for analysis.

2.1 Setting the Stage (Mk 8:1-3)

The narrative begins with temporal information which is general in 8:1. Although it does not give the clear information about the location, considering the preceding narratives we assume that this might have taken place in the territory of Decapolis. In contrast to the first feeding narrative here the miracle account begins immediately without any introduction to it (see, 6: 30-34). Here we notice Jesus’ initiative to feed the people (8:2-3). The word μακρόθεν which is used here to connote ‘far away’ or ‘from a distance’ gives us the impression that may refer to the OT meaning or early Christian reference to the gentiles.

Two indications of time open the episode which follows: “in those days” and “again”. The former expression links the events which follow with the immediately previous episodes: the healing of the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman and the deaf and dumb man in a gentile land (7:24-37). The expression “again” looks back to the earlier multiplication of loaves and fish (6:31-44). The phrase, “In those days” (Ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις) does not occur as frequently (See, 1:9; 13:24), but it could also be Markan. It connects this story temporally with the previous event or events during Jesus’ journey outside Galilee (7:24-37). Consequently, 7:31 would most likely provide a general location somewhere in the territory of the Decapolis.[181]

The setting and need become clear through the ensuing dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. “I have compassion for the crowd” (σπλαγχνίζομαι ἐπὶ τόν ὄχλον) is reminiscent of, but contrasts with, the scene in 6:34. There Jesus’ compassion arose from the crowd’s “spiritual need” as “sheep without a shepherd”; here he senses their “physical need” for sustenance.[182] The crowd has “stayed” (προσμένουσιν) with Jesus “three days” (ἡμέπαι τρεῖς) and “have nothing to eat” (οὐκ ἔχουσιν τί φάγωσιν).This setting gives us little information about what they had been doing for three days or why they had come together. The reader can assume from Mark’s narrative context that the crowd had gathered in part because of what they had heard about Jesus, perhaps even from the preaching of those with the deaf-mute in 7:35-36. The frequent association of Jesus’ healing and teaching with the gathering of large crowds to this point in Mark’s story[183] leads the reader to assume the same for this occasion.[184] Thus we make an assumption that mark´s usual portrayal of the crowd gathering related to healing and teaching plays here also the same role.

2.1.1 Jesus’ Concern

Jesus takes a special care and concern on the people from a long distance. By this special indication Mark conveys the significance of this narrative. The need rapidly becomes an emergency, when Jesus tells his disciples that the crowds will “collapse” (ἐκλυθήσονται) from lack of food (νήστεις), if he were to send them home. Because “Some of them had come from a long distance” (τινες αὐτῶν ἀπό μακρόθεν ἥκασιν) the word `long distance´ gives general information and does not indicate from which area or region. In the immediate context of Jesus’ own extensive travel in 7:31, this statement could simply indicate that some had accompanied him from earlier locales in the itinerary. At least some have come from a long distance to be with him which reinforces their desperate situation.[185] On account of the wilderness is setting it is strange to think that only some are coming from a distance. Thus we may take this phrase with a symbolic meaning.

2.1.2 Connotation to the Gentiles

This phrase gives a symbolic connation to the gentiles who are part of the crowd. Danker[186] has noted that “come from afar” (μακρόθεν ἥκασιν) connotes “Gentiles” in Josh 9:6 LXX and Isa 60:4 LXX. Van Iersel,[187] though disputing the Isaiah reference (applies to Jews from the dispersion; cf. Isa 5:26; 43:6; 49:12; 60:4, 9; Jer 30:10), agrees with Danker´s thesis and points to the rabbinic use of “far” (רחוקים, rĕḥōqīm,)[188] to refer to Gentiles and the early Church’s use of μακράν (e.g., Acts 2:39; 22:21; Eph 2:11-12) to distinguish the Gentiles from the Jews. This reading becomes even more plausible when the story is taken in the Markan context of Jesus’ travel in gentile territory. “Some” (τινες) would then imply that “some” of the crowd at least were Gentiles.[189] The meaning of OT and the early church understanding of the word ‘far’ or ‘from a long distance’ support the attribution of the word to the Gentiles.

2.2 Emphasizing the Impossibility (Mk 8: 4)

The disciples´ response states the impossible situation of the feeding of the crowd at the same time their unwillingness to understand the Jesus´ power to work miracle. Mark uses the word ἐπʼ ἐρημίας ‘wilderness’ to indicate that Jesus is a great prophet who can feed the multitude like Moses in the desert.

The disciples´ query underscores the dire situation by noting the impossibility of ‘anyone’ (τις) feeding such a crowd ‘in the wilderness’.[190] Skepticism occurs as a regular feature in miracle stories[191] but it takes on special significance here in Mark´s story. Not only does it enhance the drama, but it also indicates the disciples´ lack of understanding about Jesus. Each appearance of the disciples since 6:32 has made this point. According to Mark´s story line, they are the more culpable for having already experienced Jesus´ response to a similar situation in the first Feeding where the issue was not where one could get the food but how they could afford it. Mark explicitly returns to their slowness or unwillingness to understand in a subsequent dialogue (8:14-21). Furthermore, read in the context of 7:24-37, their perplexity contrasts markedly with both the ‘faith’ of the Syrophoenician woman (7:24-30) and the companions of the deaf-mute (7:31-37).[192] Mark highlights the disciple´ lack of understanding in this narrative and indicates in the following sections the affluent gentile response to Jesus´ miraculous activity.

2.3 Searching Options (Mk 8: 5)

Jesus´ involvement and intervention has come into another level that he searches the options to feed the people. This action of Jesus gives us the message that he invites the active participation of the disciples and the people in the miraculous action. Thus he questions the availability of the food the disciples respond that they have seven loaves. We are not sure whether these seven loaves are form the disciples or from the people. If it was from the disciples then they must have brought from the boat. But Mark is not clearly saying where these loaves came from and what Jesus did with the seven loaves. Mark´s intention is not to signify where these loaves came from or what Jesus did with that.

2.3.1 The Significance of the Verse 7

We should note that the disciples responded with one numerical word ‘seven’. That means through this number Mark wants to symbolize and signify something. Several authors have given their views on the use of number. The differences found in the number do not guarantee us that they represent the Israelistic and the Hellenistic world. But we can assume Mark´s significance and the symbolical meaning he wished to convey through this number in a larger context. Allusion to the OT

Jesus inquires and learns that they have “seven loaves.” Much has been made of the number ‘seven’ in contrast with the ‘five’ of 6:34-44. Pesch compares the seven Noachic commandments[193] as a form of natural law for humankind compared with the five books of the Torah, the Mosaic Law given to the Jews. Gnilka rejects the earlier association of the ‘seven’ with Acts 6:3 and applies the more common biblical meaning of fullness or completion as an expression of the completion of the blessing.[194] Farrer combines the ‘seven’ with the ‘five’ of the previous Feeding to equal twelve in keeping with the twelve loaves of shewbread[195] (Lev 24:5-8) to represent the “(twelve) children of Israel.”[196] We understand the meaning behind the number ‘seven’ in comparison with the number of loaves in the feeding of the five thousand. It is interesting to note that the addition of these two numbers brings the twelve which is the number of bread kept on the Sabbath in the temple of ancient Israel.

We do not find a solid clue from the text itself to get the implied meaning of the number. Unfortunately, nothing within the story itself supplies a solid clue. The gathering of ‘seven’ baskets of leftovers most likely corresponds in some way with the “seven loaves.” But what do the ‘seven’ baskets refer to (8:8)? Did the “seven loaves” influence the number of baskets or vice versa? The lack of correspondence between the ‘twelve’ disciples who serve both “five loaves” and “seven loaves” respectively rules against any connection of the number of loaves with the ones serving and thus rules out the suggestions of many interpreters who opine that ‘seven’ baskets obviously contrast with the ‘twelve’ baskets of 6:43 and refer to ‘Hellenistic’ setting,[197] particularly, in view of the Hellenists´ seven ‘deacons’ of Acts 6:1-6.[198] We do not find the connection between the twelve disciples who served the seven loaves and the twelve baskets of leftovers. Seventy Nations

Pesch finds an allusion to the ‘seven’ or ‘seventy’ nations without explaining either the connection between ‘seven’ and ‘seventy’ or why ‘seventy’ baskets were not left over should the number have been a reference to the nations of the world.[199] Pesch claims that this number supports the identification of the recipients as Gentiles, since the Gentiles were divided by Jews into seventy nations.[200] Thus we may connect the ‘seven’ with the seventy Gentile nations. Although the question remains why in order to signify seventy Gentile nations the number ‘seven’ is used. If Mark wants to signify seventy gentile nations then he should have used the number seventy. Eschatological Completeness

We find the number twelve and seven obviously related to the twelve apostles and the seven deacons this interpretation is artificial.

‘Twelve’ and ‘seven’ come naturally to mind from the Acts´ account of the leadership struggle in the primitive Church, the one group led by the Twelve Apostles and the other by the Seven around Stephen. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the latter figure comes solely from Acts 6 whose knowledge by or influence on Mark 8:8 can only be arbitrarily posited. Even should one grant the allusion to the ‘Seven’ or the ‘Hellenists’ of Acts 6, one cannot forget that they hardly represented the ‘Gentiles’ and only in an extended manner the mission to the Gentiles. Furthermore, the ‘Twelve’ disciples play an important supporting role in this feeding too.[201]

Rather than being associated particularly with Gentiles, the number seven in Mark may simply have its usual Jewish nuance of fullness, which goes back to the Genesis account of the seven days of creation, a passage alluded to at the end of the previous Markan pericope (7:37). For Mark the association is especially with eschatological completeness and new creation, as in Revelation, where a complex series of sevens symbolizes both eschatological judgment (seven seals, seven bowls, and seven trumpets) and eschatological grace (seven lampstands, seven stars, seven churches, seven spirits of God). In this association of seven with eschatological completeness, Revelation follows very much in the tradition of the OT, where the time until the eschatological change is often reckoned as seventy years (Jer 25:11-12; 29:10; Zech 1:12; 7:5) or “seventy weeks of years” (Dan 9:24).[202] Thus we may assume that in order to signify the eschatological fullness Mark uses the number seven.

2.4 Occurrence of the Miracle (Mk 8:6-7)

The miracle occurred without drawing unnecessary attention. Jesus blessed the bread and the fish and gave them to the disciples be distributed. We do not find the detail description of the actual occurrence of the miracle. Thus we tend to assume the blessing of the loaves and the fish as miracle formula which made the seven loaves sufficient for the four thousand. We also assume the usage of the word for the blessing as the Hellenistic mark. In Mk 8:6 the word εὐχαριστήσας is used for ‘giving thanks,’ in 8:7 the word εὐλογήσας is used for blessing the fish. We find two different words used for giving thanks and blessing, whose meaning can be used interchangeably. Obviously we find the Eucharistic terminological expression. Thus we may assume that this narrative is presented in a gentile context with Eucharistic influence.

“Giving thanks” (εὐχαριστήσας) differs from the first Feeding in two ways. First, nothing is said about Jesus “looking to heaven” (cf. 6:41). Second, and more importantly, the wording changes from “blessing” (εὐλογήσας) in 6:41 and 14:22 to “giving thanks” (εὐχαριστήσας). This difference has generally been attributed to the influence of a Eucharistic tradition found in Luke 22:19 and 1 Cor 11:24 on the pre-Markan tradition.[203] The change in wording itself, however, need not point in that direction, since the two verbs appear to be used interchangeably.[204] Mark illustrates this in our immediate context where a “blessing” is given for the fish in 8:7. In 14:22 Jesus gives a “blessing” for the bread followed by “thanks” for the cup in 14:23. Paul uses “thanks” (εὐχαριστεῖν) for the Lord’s Supper in 1 Cor 11:24 but also for a normal meal in Rom 14:6 and 1 Cor 10:30 (1 Tim 4:3-4; Acts 27:35).[205]

Thus we find the difference in the words for the blessing and ‘looking up to heaven’ is found missing. Mark himself uses these words for the last supper again in 14:22 and in 14:23. One should observe that Paul also used the ‘εὐχαριστεῖν’ (giving thanks) for the normal meal.

2.4.1 Hellenistic Mark

Taken in the Gentile context, the change in expressions on ‘blessing’ may indeed reflect a Eucharistic influence on the tradition. The fish which does not play any role in the Lord´s Supper is avoided in the verse 8:6 along with the loaves. This is something contrast to the first feeding (See, 6:38; 6:41). This tendency to deemphasize the fish appears in the Matthean and Lukan parallels to the Feeding of the Five Thousand.[206] Furthermore, the fish do come into play but as a separate course in 8:7, which suggests that they had been pushed to the background here as well. Therefore, the description of Jesus´ handling of the loaves may well reflect the use of terminology familiar to the early Church from the Lord’s Supper, and the presence of “giving thanks” (εὐχαριστεῖν) in the Lukan and Pauline tradition may suggest that a similar ‘Hellenistic’ setting left its mark on the tradition here.[207] Thus we assume that the notable absence of the fish in the verse 8:6 and its mentioning in the verse 8:7 separately give us the hint of the Hellenistic influence. Moreover, with regard to the terminology we find both the influence of Eucharistic and the Hellenistic marks.

But where does this variant come from? Many assign it to a Hellenistic-Jewish Christian community based on the use of the Eucharistic formula in 8:6 which appears in Luke 22:19 and 1 Cor 11:24. But the interchangeable character of εὐλογεῖν and εὐχαριστεῖν (8:6) seriously weakens the argument. The fish course (8:7) also seems to reflect a more gentile or Hellenistic setting because of its insensitivity to the Jewish custom of the blessing which is given over the bread and always blesses God rather than the food (εὐλογήσας αὐτά). Yet one could avoid this confusion by assigning 8:7 to a later development in the tradition.[208] Therefore, much depends on whether Mark found this tradition in a collection of materials reflecting a more ‘Hellenistic’- Jewish Christian community and on whether the change in numbers, particularly the use of ‘seven,’ has significance. Assuming a subsequent development behind 8:7, we see that nothing else in the story (8:1-6, 8-10) offers convincing evidence for determining its original Sitz im Leben.[209] Thus it is uncertain to find clear evidence from the text to assert whether it is Hellenistic origin.

2.4.2 Eucharistic Interpretation

Although we find the Eucharistic influence in the text, the attempt to take this feeding as a Eucharistic meal is prevented by the presence of the fish and the absence of the cup and words interpreting the bread (‘This is my body’ Mk14:22b). And since Jesus’ actions with the bread corresponded with the typical role of the Jewish father at a meal, we need to proceed cautiously even in assigning a Eucharistic interpretation to the Feeding or the Feeding to a “Eucharistic catechism”.[210] At most we have here a liturgical tradition exerting indirect influence on the development of a separate meal tradition.[211]

‘Broke’ (ἔκλασεν; cf. κατέκλασεν, 6:41) corresponds more directly with the verb used in the Lord’s Supper of 14:22; Luke 22:19; and 1 Cor 11:24. But we find the same verb used in reference to Paul´s ‘breaking’ bread in Acts 27:35. The term belonged to the customary manner for beginning a meal. “Gave it to his disciples to serve” (ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν) incorporates the disciples in the miracle despite their lack of understanding (6:41).[212] We should be cautious of giving the Eucharistic interpretation because the terms (taking loaves, giving thanks, breaking them and giving it to the disciples) used in the last Supper. So when we give a Eucharistic interpretation then one may counter argue saying they are actins done by a father in the ordinary Jewish meal.

While the absence of wine or any blessing of wine and the similarity of actions (‘take,’ ‘bless’ and ‘break’) to the normal Jewish blessing before meals lead some authors to deny any ‘Eucharistic’ overtones to the feeding narratives, the similarities outweigh the differences. This is supported also by John´s omission of the institution narrative at the last supper, while in John 6 retaining and heightening the feeding narrative to signify the eating and drinking of the body and blood of Jesus (even though wine is not mentioned in John´s narrative).[213]

Since we find the similarities to the Eucharistic interpretation more than the dissimilarities, we attribute the Eucharistic colour to the narrative.

2.4.3 Connotation to the Blessing

“Blessed them” (εὐλογήσας αὐτά) raises a special issue. First, the blessing normally accompanies the breaking of the bread and not the main course. The word beraka in Hebrew used in reference to God (Ps 89:52 - Blessed is the Lord forever) and to express the particular action of God which were the reason for the blessing (Ex.18:10).[214] Consequently, many interpreters have attributed the verse to a later Hellenistic redaction unfamiliar with the Jewish customs regarding the blessing, perhaps mistaking it for a miracle formula.[215] Yet, though one might imagine an early Christian community unaware of the special nuances of the Jewish blessings at the meal, it is hard to imagine any Christian community that would mistake a blessing with a miracle-working formula.[216]

The term used in Mark, Matthew, and Luke for Jesus’ prayerful gesture is εὐλογεῖν (“to praise”), whereas John uses εὐχαριστεῖν (“to give thanks”) (Matt 14:19; Luke 9:16; John 6:11).[217] The former is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrewברך(“to bless” or “to praise”), which was probably the most commonly used term for prayer among Jews in the first century.[218] The latter is roughly equivalent to the Hebrewהודה(“to give thanks”). The latter is also the verb more commonly used in relation to early Christian ritual meals. At the same time, however, a prayer of praise or thanksgiving may have been said at the beginning of ordinary meals, both by Jews and Christians. The verb εὐχαριστεῖν (“to give thanks”) is used in the Last Supper in Luke in relation to both the bread and the wine (22:17, 19), whereas it is used only in relation to the wine in Mark (14:23) and Matthew (26:27). In relation to the bread, both Mark (14:22) and Matthew (26:26) use εὐλογεῖν (“to praise”).[219] Although the word εὐχαριστεῖν claimed as the Last supper terminology St. Paul shows some evidences (Rom14:6; 1Cori 10:30; see, 1Tim4:3f) that this word was used in the Greek Judaism as the everyday meal prayer. Thus relation with the Last supper remains questionable.[220]

We find the blessing is done usually with bread not with the main course. That is why the verb ‘to bless’ εὐλογήσας used with the bread and the verb εὐχαριστεῖν (“to give thanks”) used with the fish. But only Luke uses εὐχαριστεῖν (“to give thanks”) in relation to bread and wine and Mark and Matthew use εὐλογεῖν (“to praise”) in relation to the bread and in relation to the wine they use εὐχαριστεῖν (“to give thanks”). Paul’s using of this word εὐχαριστεῖν (“to give thanks”) also can show us that it was part of the everyday meal prayer in Greek Judaism.

2.5 Satisfaction of the Crowd (Mk 8:8)

This verse completes narration of the miracle and indicates that people in the wilderness, where the food for such a large crowd cannot be obtained easily, ate and were satisfied by the miraculous act of Jesus.

“Seven large baskets of leftover pieces” gives the first of two demonstrations of the miracle, the second being the number of people fed in 8:9. The “large baskets” (σπυρίδας; see, κοφίνων in 6:43; 8:19) renders the same word used for the ‘basket’ in which Paul was let down from a wall (Acts 9:25).[221] The statement that the people ate and were satisfied constitutes the demonstration of the miracle and the climax of this short narrative. It is also reminiscent of the theme of the feeding of Israel with manna and quails in the OT.[222] The note on demonstration of the miracle replaces the missing surprise note of the people and expresses how big the miracle was and how great Jesus is.

2.6 Sending the People and Leaving the Place (Mk 8:9-10)

After the feeding, Jesus sends the people away and leaves with the disciples to a place called Dalmanoutha. The verse 9 functions as the end of the narrative and as the elaboration of the verse 8.

The statement that Jesus dismissed the people would make little sense in the last of a series of miracle stories told in the context of a ritual meal. Its primary function is to end this story and to prepare for what the Markan Jesus will do next.[223] Achtemeier concluded that vv. 9b-10 formed the original conclusion to the second feeding story in the source collection, arguing that the description of the destination “the district of Dalmanoutha” (τὰ μέρη Δαλμανουθά) in v. 10 is specific, whereas the Markan summaries tend to mention either more general locations, for example, “beside the sea,” or better-known places like Capernaum. He noted further that this place-name presented a problem from an early time, as the textual history of the verse indicates.[224]

One may think that Jesus sending the people away and leaving the place may give little sense to the feeding but it serves as the point to indicate that he is prepared to do the next activity. By giving the specification on the name of the next place of Jesus’ journey, Mark seems to give a conclusion to the feeding narrative.


In this second chapter using the literary critical method, we have learned that Mark has presented us a ‘gift miracle’ story. We find this story important because it is narrated with Eucharistic colour. In order to give a Eucharistic colour, Mark has used some words of the last supper liturgy. Since these words have the interchangeable meaning we cannot assert that they give the Eucharistic meaning. When we ask why Mark comes with a second feeding narrative we find this text placed among the gentile geographical setting which means the preceding texts (7:24-30; 31-37) and the following texts (8:22-26) are set in the predominantly gentile territory. Also this narrative states that some of them are coming from the far off places (8:3) which may indirectly mean they are coming from the gentile areas. Thus we may presume that Mark presents this narrative for the Gentiles with some Eucharistic colour. The analysis of the two feeding narratives has provided us a ground to proceed further with the comparative study of both narratives in the third chapter.

Chapter 3 Comparison of the Two Feeding Narratives in Mark


The exegetical analysis of the two feeding narratives in the previous chapters has created a good basis for the comparative analysis in this chapter. By studying the similarities and the dissimilarities between the two texts we may do the comparative study. Analyzing the deep structure and the surface structure will help us to bring out the differences and the resemblances. We study the thematic parallels, verbal parallels and their differences. Studying all these differences and similarities will help us to find out the meaning behind these two narratives. The presence of the two narratives in the same gospel gives rise to the assumptions about its origin, tradition and purpose. This study on comparison may give us some insights regarding that. We focus our attention more on dissimilarities between the narratives, because we need to get clarified as to what insights Mark, through these dissimilarities wants to convey. However, the similarities also have been dealt with needed explanation.

1. Similarities

Miraculous feeding of the crowd is the basic similarity between the two narratives. Although there are different miracle narratives in the gospel of Mark, we find these two narratives strikingly similar. From the examination of the two narratives, the similarity of the series of events is very much obvious. A paradigmatic analysis[225] of these two texts elicits remarkable similarity, while a syntagmatic analysis[226] shows both similarities and significant differences. Studying the deep structure we learn the following parallels.

1.1 The Verbal Parallels

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The lexical,[227] syntactic[228] and in some cases morphological parallelism, both verbal and substantival, is indeed striking but does not deserve to be given lower importance to the assumption that the stories are varied renderings from the same miracle source. Certainly lexical analysis needs to be undertaken and comparison needs to be made of wording used in quite similar settings that would be difficult perhaps to vary or too general in nature. An example of this follows: πολύς (much, many; 6:34), ὄχλος (crowd; 6:34; 8:2), σπλαγχνίζομαι (be moved with compassion for; feel sympathy with; 6:34; 8:2), λέγω (speak, ask), ἀποκρίνομαι (answer; 8:4), ἐρωτάω (ask; 8:5), ἀναπίπτω (lie down recline; 8:6), λαμβάνω (take 6:41; 8:6), ἄρτος (bread), (κατα) κλάω (break 6:41), παρατίθημι (place before; 6:41; 8:6), ἐσθίω (eat), χορτάζω (feed, satisfy, fill; 6:42; 8:8), αἴρω (take up, 6:8), κλάσμα (piece of bread; 6:43; 8:8). Most of these words are very common, some are quite general in nature and some would be unusual to vary at any rate. Although it is by no means conclusive, it could even be the case that the agreements here point to two separate sources which happened to use some common vocabulary.[229]

Although, we find the grammatical and lexical differences, the sense and the meaning they would like to reveal are the same. The clauses in 6:34 and 8:2, however dissimilar syntactically, exhibit somewhat more clearly the substitutional or paradigmatic similarity of sense relations in the deep structure of these similar discourses.

1.2 Jesus´ Compassion

In OT, compassion is a quality of God. Jesus had compassion on many occasions especially during the healing miracles. Being compassionate towards the crowd is very much common in both the texts. In 6:34 Jesus’ compassion effected in teaching and in 8:1-10 his compassion effected in feeding the crowd.

In 6:34 Jesus saw the crowd, felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and began to teach them many things. He shepherds them by teaching them about the Kingdom of God, by instructing them in righteousness which their leaders had no mind to do. In 8:2 Jesus once again felt compassion for the crowd for they had been with him for three days, during which they had the opportunity to listen to his teaching. He also had concern for their physical hunger.[230] The term σπλαγχνιζοµαι has its parallel in Hebrewרַחֲמִיםand in OT it refers to a quality of God (merciful love). (Isa 54:7-8,”with everlasting love I will have compassion on you”; Pss 86:15; 111:4; 145:8). Compassion is the bridge from sympathy to action (Lk10:33; 15:20).[231]

1.3 Thematic Parallels

(a) A great Crowd (6:34; 8:1): we find this phrase ‘a great crowd’ as characteristically, a Markan phrase in both the texts. Mark has the tendency to portray Jesus and his activities in an exaggerated manner. In the first feeding gathering of the crowd is dealt with elaborately (6:33). But in the second feeding narrative the information about the crowd is general and bare.
(b) A Deserted Setting (6:35; 8:4): Although we have little information about the location of the two narratives both do have the same deserted setting of the place. This setting reminds us the OT manna feeding in the wilderness.
(c) The Question about Available Food (6:38; 8:5): By asking this question, Jesus searches for the options to feed the crowd. This is the first step to the miracle. It also gives message to the one who reads that from a very little available source, Jesus fed two big crowds, an act which is humanly impossible.
(d) A Command to Recline (6:39; 8:6): Reclining is the posture for the Passover feast. Hence this command of Jesus portrays him as the eschatological messiah who offers eschatological meal in which people recline, eat and be satisfied.
(e) Terms used for Serving (6:41; 8:6): The words and the sequence of serving the loaves are used in the Jesus´ Last Supper in which these terms (take, bless, break and distribute) are used by the three evangelists as the Eucharistic expression. Paul also used these words which prove that in Hellenistic Judaism also these manners were prevalent.
(f) The Same Result (6:42; 8:8): although the narratives do not speak of the astonishment of the crowd on seeing the multiplication of the food, yet in both instances, the act of feeding the people goes on unobtrusively. Mark shows the big result that is the big crowd (five thousand and four thousand) ate and was satisfied. This is to show that Jesus is greater than the OT prophets and the leaders in whose time the Israel was fed in the wilderness.
(g) Gathering of Leftovers (6:43; 8:9): This gathering of the leftovers is mentioned in contrast to the manna typology. This is to show that the crowd was fed in abundance.
(h) Dismissal and the Journey (6:45; 8:10): ‘sending the people away’ indicates that after seeing the miraculous feeding by Jesus the people would make him king but Jesus foreseeing this, sent them away and made a boat journey to his next mission.

In addition, we find disciples´ lack of understanding on his inquiry about the available bread to perform the miracle (8:4; 6:38).

1.4 Common Basic Tradition

These similarities give us the impression that they could have emerged from a basic common tradition which is used by the evangelist to serve his own theological perspectives.

Both the deliverances of the feeding narratives in 6:33-44 and 8:1-10 are as the unfoldings of the common basic tradition and not as the two independent deliverances to approach. The important similarities are the following: the compassion of Jesus, the lonely place, a dialogue between Jesus and the disciples whose helplessness is revealed, finding of the available food, commanding the crowd to sit for the meal, the prayer of Jesus and the serving of the meals through the disciples, the meal and the collection of the leftovers, a statement about the number of those present.[232]

Various proposals have emerged (and will continue to emerge) to relate the narratives: (1) there was a single narrative that took different forms in the tradition and that mark edited differently in each instance; (2) 8:1-10 is an early pre-Markan narrative that Mark used in his composition of 6:30-44; and (3) there are two different pre-Markan versions of the story and both were edited by Mark. A growing majority of the interpreters holds that there was an early narrative that the individual evangelists reworked and adapted to their theological perspectives.[233]

Thus there are many theories to say how these narratives emerged or originated. But we hold that according to their own theological perspective and the need of the community the evangelists wrote the feedings from an early narrative. Thus Mark also would have written these two feedings to serve the Jewish and the Gentile community.

2. Dissimilarities

The similarities that we find between these two narratives give us the idea that they have the same source and origin but the differences we note between them give us the clue that these narratives would have originated from the independent traditional variant. The analogies and motives are inconsistent to the text but serve the theological views of Mark. Innumerable theories have been offered to explain the relation of the different versions of the feeding to each other and to a postulated primitive narrative. Though our approach centers on the Markan meaning, the complicated tradition history of the accounts means that as often -told stories they provide a rich texture of allusions and motifs that are not always internally consistent.[234]

The second feeding account, most likely the latter of the two variants, differs significantly from the first. The setting differs (see, 6:32-34), and apart from the obvious difference in the numbers of loaves, fish, baskets and crowd, thematic differences also appear. For example, the disciples in the second feeding narrative play a more passive, supporting role with Jesus taking the initiative (8:1-5). OT motifs, the seating by groups (see. 6:40) and Jesus´ look to heaven (8:6; see, 6:41) are missing, and we have a separate fish course in 8:7. Significant differences in wording also occur (e.g., ἔρημος ὁ τόπος, 6:35 see, ἐρημίας, 8:4; ἐπὶ τῷ χλωρῷ χόρτῳ, 6:39; see, ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, 8:6; εὐλόγησεν, 6:41; see, εὐχαριστήσας, 8:6 and κόφινος, 6:43; see, σπυρίδας, 8:8). Add to this combination of similarities and dissimilarities, the proximity of the Johannine account to 8:1-10, we have strong evidence supporting Mark´s use of an independent traditional variant of the Feeding tradition.[235]

2.1 A Literary Work

The first feeding narrative portrays Jesus as a teacher and eschatological shepherd. Thus it is very much interwoven into the gospel theme and incorporated into the context of the Gospel. Whereas second feeding account portrays Jesus as the Shepherd, who feeds the hungry crowd. This theme is more applicable to the text than to the gospel as a whole.

The first feeding account (6:35-44) is much more integrated into its literary context than this account. Here the temporal setting (“in those days”) is general and connects the second feeding only loosely to the preceding account of a healing. Similarly, the presence of the crowd is merely noted here, whereas their gathering is described elaborately in 6:31-34. These observations suggest that the opening of this account reflects the wording of the source, with the possible exception of πάλιν (“again”).[236]

2.2 The Narrative Setting

The first feeding is set after the section of the death of the John the Baptist. This is to show, as Elisha succeeds Elijah, here, Jesus is succeeding John, whom the people regarded as the Prophet Elijah. This feeding has a spiritual setting. Sheep without shepherd is a Jewish proverbial metaphor used to indicate the leaderless Israel. Torah was given to them as guidance and teaching. Mark attributes this OT allusion to Jesus´ teaching to the crowd. The second feeding narrative is positioned after the miracle in the gentile area and to indicate that the wilderness will blossom and the sick will be cured during the time of the messiah.

We find the major difference in the narrative setting. The second feeding comes after two miracles done in Gentile territory (7:24-30, 31-37) in which Jesus is described as the one “who does all things well” (7:37), rather than the first feeding after the questioning about Jesus´ identity and the death of John (6:14-29). It is part of Jesus´ mission to the Gentiles in Mark and stresses an abundance of food for both Jews and Gentiles.[237]

As Freedman points out, just as Elisha succeeds Elijah, so Jesus succeeds John, whose death has been narrated in the previous passage and who is an Elijah-like figure. Jesus’ name and Elisha’s, moreover, are similar; both combine a word for God with the root ישָׁ yšʿ (“to save”) orושׁ šwʿ (“to help”).[238] The OT passage Isa 35:5-6 alluded to in Mark 7:37, occurs in a context that speaks of the wilderness rejoicing and miraculously blossoming (Isa 35:1-2, 6-7); this context may be partly responsible for Mark’s placement immediately afterward of a passage about a miracle in the wasteland.[239]

2.2.1 Spiritual Setting

The spiritual setting in Mk 6:30-44 is obvious with Jesus´ compassion and teaching. In Mk 8:1-10 the physical setting is evident with Jesus´ concern for their physical need (Mk 8:2-3).The phrases like ‘three days’; ‘send them away hungry they will collapse’ are the clear indications of his worry about their physical need. In the second feeding the setting and need become clear through the ensuing dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. “I have compassion for the crowd” (σπλαγχνίζομαι ἐπὶ τόν ὄχλον) is reminiscent of, but contrasts with, the scene in 6:34. In the first feeding Jesus’ compassion arose from the crowd’s “spiritual need” as “sheep without a shepherd”[240] In the second feeding we find the omission of any reference to the teaching of Jesus and here it is the hunger of the people that evokes the compassionate response of Jesus.[241]

The overall structure of second feeding account is very similar to that of 6:30-44, with the exception of the stage-setting and description of the seating of the crowd, which are both less elaborate than those in the earlier story. The narrative falls into three main parts: the description of the problem, namely the lack of food and the distance from a source of it (8:1-4), the feeding itself (8:5-7), and the concluding notes about the amount of leftovers, the number of people fed, and Jesus´ dismissal of the crowd (8:8-9). A rough chiasm can be observed; it would be perfect were it not for the separate multiplication and distribution of the fish in 8:7, which is probably a Markan addition (it is not a separate action in Mark 6:30-44 or John 6:1-15).[242] Although we have similarity in the overall structure we have difference in the setting. The first feeding has the spiritual setting portraying Jesus as the prophet and the teacher. The second feeding has the physical setting portraying Jesus as the shepherd who fulfills their physical hunger.

2.2.2 Speculation on Numbers

The difference in the numbers has given room too many speculations, but we do not have direct evidences to prove any such speculations on the basis of the difference in numbers. We find the difference in the number of people, loaves, fish and the baskets. The first feeding narrative attributes the twelve baskets to the twelve disciples who distributed the loaves and the fish. But this correlation is not suitable to the second feeding because the number of baskets mentioned here is ‘seven’ which is not suitable to the number (twelve) of disciples who distributed the loaves.

Much has been made of the numbers in this story. Some associations are inevitable; some too subtle.[243] In contrast to 8:1-9 Jesus feeds a greater number (5000 “men” vs. 4000 total) with less (five loaves vs. seven loaves) and has more left over (twelve baskets vs. seven). The “twelve baskets,” however, in a setting of the gathering of the people into groupings and the work of the Twelve might well point to the eschatological people of God symbolized by the sheep gathered and fed by God´s promised ‘shepherd.’ Jesus comes as the promised one to inaugurate God´s new day of blessing.[244] Mark´s selection and arrangement of the two Feedings with the first in the Jewish setting of Galilee and the second in the gentile territory of the Decapolis[245] may imply a subtle allusion behind ‘twelve’ to the tribes of Israel.[246] Symbolism

The number ‘five’ represents the Torah. It is a traditional understanding that Torah was the divine response to the dilemma of the shepherdless sheep of Israel. The seven loaves indicate the seven gentile nations in the OT (Deut 7:1-2). However, we should remember that number ‘seven’ is the most important number in the Bible and early Jewish Texts. Mark uses it here to indicate the eschatological fulfillment in which all people come without any difference.

A special connection of the number seven with Gentiles, however, is hard to prove. Seven is the most important number in the Bible and early Jewish texts, and most of its appearances have nothing to do with Gentiles. As for the seven deacons of Acts, they hardly represent Gentiles, and only in an extended sense the mission to the Gentiles.[247] Correlation in a Larger Context

Since it is hard to extract the true meaning behind this number symbolism, we take the meaning in a larger context. We may assume that the number four thousand may signify the four corners of the earth from which people come and sit in the banquet of the Lord. Although four thousand cannot be reduced to four we assume its probable significance.

Nothing in the first feeding account, when taken by itself, would lead necessarily to such a subtle reading beyond the obvious correlation between the number twelve and the same number of tribes and apostles. One could just as easily argue that the number devoid of any symbolism simply meant that each of the twelve disciples who had played such a prominent role in this story had received a basket of leftovers. But the possibility that more lies behind the numbers “twelve” and “seven” does arise when the two accounts are taken together in the larger context of Mark’s narrative.[248]

“Four thousand” has also prompted much debate.[249] If the five thousand had little obvious significance in the first Feeding, “four thousand” could hardly be more significant even for Mark who obviously took these stories as two separate accounts whose significance lies in the event rather than the numbers.[250] Because of the difficulty of determining a specific meaning for four thousand, we may reduce the symbolism of four thousand to that of four which is seen as a reference to the Gentiles, who are presumed to be people who come from the four corners of the earth or the four winds.[251]

2.2.4 Disciples´ Initiative

The initiative of the disciples and the initiative of Jesus have different motives. The disciples´ initiative shows their lack of understanding of the miracle that their master is going to do. One should note that the disciples´ initiative in the first feeding was not out of concern to quench the physical hunger of the people, rather sending them to buy food for themselves. This initiative of disciples is not suitable to the miraculous feeding. On the other hand one may say that they are reasonable and realistic. But it does not sound a reasonable suggestion to Jesus.

“The hour was now quite late” (ἤδη ὥρας πολλῆς γενομένης) most likely refers to late afternoon near sunset, the normal dinner hour.[252] The time of day and the location, “an uninhabited place” (ἔρημος ὁ τόπος), has led the disciples to ask Jesus to dismiss the crowd to go into the “surrounding hamlets and towns” (εἰς τοὺς κύκλῳ ἀγρούς καὶ κώμας) to buy something to eat. In contrast to the Feeding in 8:1-2, where Jesus takes the initiative and calls the disciples, in the first feeding the disciples come to Jesus with their request on behalf of the people. But there is little hint of urgency or need of a miracle, since ample provisions can be found nearby.[253]

2.2.5 Jesus´ Initiative

The motive of Jesus´ initiative in the second feeding is secondary. After three days teaching and remaining with them as a true shepherd he cares for their physical hunger. Thus he takes the initiative to feed the hungry crowd.

Bultmann argued that the motive of Jesus´ initiative in the second feeding is secondary in comparison with the disciples´ initiative in 6:35-36.[254] Although the initiative of Jesus may be a secondary motif in some cases, it is not necessarily so in the first feeding. Mark may have given the disciples the initiative in the first feeding story in order to highlight their lack of understanding of Jesus’ power and the potential power of their own faith. Jesus’ statement in 8:2 that the crowd had remained with him for three days indicates a greater need for food on their part than that of the crowd in the first feeding story, who had been with Jesus for only one day. The presence of the crowd for a shorter time in the first story is dependent on the redactional description of the gathering of the crowd.[255]

2.3 The Portrayal of the ‘Place’

In the second feeding, the word ‘wilderness’ (ἐρημία) is used to indicate that the people have to travel considerable distance to reach their homes. This shows that they are in a deserted place. And the people are also coming from ‘far away’ places, which mean the gentiles in the OT (Deut 28:49; 29:22). On the contrary in the first feeding they are searching for an ‘unpopulated place’ which is suitable to say ‘send them to surrounding villages to buy food for themselves’ (6:36). The purpose of using the word ‘unpopulated place’ (ἔρημος τόπος) also indicates to rest a while and spend time with Jesus.

The disciples’ response to Jesus in 8:4 in the second feeding, a related but stronger word (ἐρημία) is used to set the feeding in the “wilderness” or “desert.”[256] The assumption that the people would have to travel a considerable distance to their homes is compatible with this setting. Furthermore, the use of the noun “wilderness” (ἐρημία) in the second feeding evokes more strongly the wandering of the people of Israel in the wilderness and their being fed with manna there.[257] Achtemeier argued plausibly that the reaction of the disciples in 8:4 is possible only if the second feeding account was formulated completely independently of the first feeding story.[258] This conclusion is supported by the fact that there is no indication of a rebuke or didactic purpose on the part of Jesus, as one would expect if the disciples’ question were meant to illustrate their lack of understanding.[259] In 8:3 mark writes that some of them have come from a distance (τινες αὐτῶν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν ἥκασιν). In view of the wilderness setting, it is odd that only some of the crowd is described as coming from a distance, but there is probably a symbolic reason for the remark. In the OT, non-Jewish nations are often described as “far away” (Deut 28:49; 29:22; 1 Kgs 8:41, etc.), whereas Israel is ‘near’ to God (e.g. Ps 148:14).[260]

2.4 Jesus´ Command to Recline

In the first feeding the command to sit and the involvement of the disciples are used with didactic motive (6:39). But in 8:6 the command to recline is associated with the Last Supper. (Mk14:18).

The second account differs from the first in that Jesus himself commands the crowd to recline whereas, according to the earliest recoverable reading of 6:39, in the first feeding story Jesus commands the disciples to have the people recline. The greater involvement of the disciples in the first account is probably connected to the didactic motif that emerges in 6:37a. The verb used in 8:6 for “recline” (ἀναπίπτειν) appears also in 6:40, whereas a different verb with the same meaning is used in 6:39 (ἀνακλίνειν). In the first feeding account has Jesus command the people to recline simply “on the ground” (ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς). This motif contrasts with the more elaborate “on the green grass” (ἐπὶ τῷ χλωρῷ χόρτῳ) of 6:39, which is part of the depiction of the scene as an outdoor banquet in contrast to the banquet of Herod.[261]

The command to sit the people ‘on the green grass’ has a meal motive whereas to sit ‘on the ground’ has the didactic motive.

2.5 The Blessing of the Loaves

The word used to praise (εὐλογεῖν) in 6:41 and the word in 8:6 to gives thanks (εὐχαριστεῖν) have played significant role to interpret that second feeding is written with an influence of the Eucharistic liturgy. Since the words are used with the interchangeable meanings we cannot establish the Eucharistic interpretation. Also we lack the wine and the words of interpretation on the bread ‘this is my body’.

The motif according to which Jesus looks up to heaven in 6:41 is lacking in the second feeding narrative. Furthermore, the first account has Jesus praise God (εὐλογεῖν), but in 8:6 he gives thanks (εὐχαριστεῖν). The former verb is used in connection with Jesus taking a loaf of bread at the Last Supper, and the latter is used in connection with the taking of the cup (14:22-23).[262] This variation is compatible with the diversity in the practice of prayers before and after meals among Jews in the late Second Temple period.[263] Philo consistently uses the expression “to give thanks” (εὐχαριστεῖν) to refer to prayer at meals, rather than the expression “to praise” or “to bless” (εὐλογεῖν).[264]

2.6 The Baskets

κόφινος (6:43) and σπυρίς (8:8) are the different words used in the texts. The word κόφινος (6:43) seems to designate a kind of basket particularly associated with the Jews. The Greek word σπυρίς (8:8) does not represent the typical Gentile basket.

The κόφινος which means ‘a large, heavy basket for carrying things’, was mocked by the Roman satirist Juvenal as the typical equipment of the poor Jew. To have twelve of them available out in the countryside is surprising. The words δώδεκα κοφίνων πληρώματα might merely indicate the quantity of leftovers (enough to fill twelve κόφινοι) rather than refer to actual receptacles used, but 8:19 suggests that they actually had twelve baskets there; perhaps they were kept in the boat (as containers for the catch?).[265]

2.7 Five Thousand Men

We find an important difference in the specification of the five thousand men in the first feeding (6:44) and a lack of the same in the second feeding narrative. Probably the assembly of the five thousand men associated with the militaristic purpose and it may give a nationalistic tone.[266] This association may not be suitable for the second feeding narrative which is positioned in a Gentile narrative setting and does not require a nationalistic tone.

In 6:44 Mark stated specifically that the five thousand were ἄνδρες. In the second feeding (unlike Matthew, 15:38) he is not specific, and we are left to assume a mixed crowd. If there was at least a potentially militaristic tone[267] to the feeding of the five thousand, we are given no encouragement to see such a dimension here, where a Gentile crowd could not have had the same nationalistic motivation.[268]

3. The Significance of the Two Texts

Having analyzed the resemblances and the disparities between the two narratives we now delve into their significances and implications. Mark’s interest is in the significance of the feeding miracle, not in whatever purpose the men may have had in mind in pursuing Jesus. Through this narrative he wants to extend the concern of Jesus and his ministry to the Gentiles people and thus wants to bring a completeness and fullness in Jesus’ ministry.

3.1 Two Distinctive Traditions

There are different assumptions on the origin of the two texts. The oral traditions preserve the specific details like numbers at the same time have the varying scenery. This is an opposite phenomenon to the Mark´s feeding narratives. Thus one may conclude that Mark would have developed the second feeding narrative from a single account in order to make the blessings of the Israel available to the gentiles. But this is not a character of Mark. Therefore it is acceptable that there would have been two such incidents passed down by the traditions. As time went on, they narrated them using the similar form but preserving the distinctiveness in the numbers.

An alternative view is that Mark received only a single account, and, presumably in order to make the point that the blessings of Israel were available also to the Gentiles, created a second story, retaining the essential framework but changing all the numbers. But this too hardly rings true to Mark´s method. Whereas Matthew does sometimes present what appear to be doublets of the same story (Mt 9:27-31 with 20:29-34; 9:32-34 with 12:22-24; 12:38-39 with 16:1-4), this is not characteristic of Mark elsewhere. Moreover, in 8:19-21 the two feeding miracles are commented on as separate events and carefully distinguished in detail, which does not look like the work of a person who was aware of only one such event. It thus seems more economical to accept that there were two such incidents, separately remembered and passed down in tradition, but, naturally enough, told in increasingly similar terms as time went on, except only that the different sets of numbers were faithfully preserved. This would accord with the form-critical observation of the tendency of stories of the same type (most notably healing and exorcism stories) to assimilate to a standard narrative form while retaining their distinctive features in detail. The two feeding stories are perhaps more closely similar to one another than any other pair of miracles in any one gospel, but the combination of similarity of form with distinctiveness in detail rings true to the oral tradition process as we see it elsewhere in the gospels.[269] But now the interpreters view that these narratives should have been originated from an earlier narrative with the evangelists´ own theological perspectives.

3.2 OT Background

In the first feeding narrative, the OT background is obvious and evident. The shepherd image attributed to Jesus. This is a proverbial metaphor used in the OT. Mark attributes to Jesus the mosaic figure who fed the Israel in the wilderness. Since the name of Jesus is also similar to that of Joshua, the successor of Moses, Mark´s Joshua/Jesus typology as the successor of Moses also sounds applicable.

The Mosaic aspect of the shepherd image is most emphasized in the first feeding. Admittedly, the “sheep without a shepherd” phrase is not limited to Moses in the OT but becomes a proverbial metaphor for the people suffering either through lack of strong leadership (Num 27:17; 1 Kgs 22:17; 2 Chr 18:16; Jdt 11:19) or through evil rulers (Ezek 34:8; Zech 10:2), and both nuances may apply in the present case. But the phrase most closely echoes Moses’ words in Num 27:17, and in moving from an allusion to Moses to a reference to Jesus’ teaching, Mark is probably drawing on a Jewish tradition that sees the Torah, the teaching of Moses, as the divine response to the dilemma of the shepherdless sheep of Israel (See, Ps 119:176).[270]

In Num 27:17, Moses’ request that God appoint a shepherd in his place is answered by God pointing to Joshua (Greek Iēsous = Jesus), “a man in whom is the Spirit.” In light of this sequence, one wonders whether a Joshua/Jesus typology may be at the back of Mark’s mind: Jesus, too, is a successor of Moses in whom God’s Spirit dwells (see 1:9-11 and see, Heb 4:8, where the Joshua/Jesus typology is played upon). Joshua, moreover, was remembered as one like Moses, and in the remainder of the feeding narrative Jesus will act like Moses (Exod 16:3).[271]

Although it is clear that the second feeding account has little OT background, the number seven could be attributed to the seven gentile nations mentioned in Deut 7:1-2. Since the Gentiles knew of the manna miracle and wished to partake of it, the manna typology could be accepted as the OT symbolism to the second feeding narrative.

Danker points to the way in which our verse verbally echoes the Septuagint of Josh 9:6, 9 and he sees this echo as supporting the identification of the recipients of the second Markan feeding as Gentiles. In Joshua 9 the speakers are the Gibeonites, who are Hivites (Josh 9:7), one of the “seven nations” that according to Deut 7:1-2 are to be exterminated by the invading Israelites. The Gibeonites, however, escaped destruction through a ruse involving loaves of bread, which was revealed after three days (Josh 9:5, 12, 16). It is possible that our story’s symbolism of seven (loaves, baskets of leftovers) and its reference to three days echo this OT narrative.[272]

This perception of a gentile theme in 8:1-9 is not necessarily incompatible with the assertion that our passage has important Old Testament background of the passage in the traditions about the miraculous feedings of the Israelites in the wilderness, since some (admittedly late) Jewish traditions assert that the pagans knew about the Jews´ manna and wished to partake of it[273], and in any case biblical typology can be very elastic. Matthew, who does not seem to think that those fed in our passage are Gentiles, chooses to omit the words about the people coming from a distance.[274] Having found that the OT background unsuitable, the other evangelists might have omitted another narrative for the Gentiles and Matthew in his second feeding omits the OT allusions.

3.3 Eucharistic Influence

The usages of the words that describe the Eucharistic actions are the obvious significance that Mark would like to indicate that these miracles are the foretaste of the messianic banquet in the kingdom of God.

There is a wide agreement that at least part of that significance is revealed by the verbs in v. 41 (λαβών, εὐλόγησεν, κατέκλασεν, ἐδίδου), which are those traditionally used to describe the Eucharistic actions at the Last Supper, and which will appear again, in the same sequence, in 14:22. If, as 14:25 will indicate, that Eucharistic meal is a foretaste of the messianic banquet in the kingdom of God, then what is offered to these men in the wilderness is a pointer to messianic fulfillment (and for Christian readers inevitably a pre-echo of the Last Supper itself). John will make the point more obviously by following his account of the incident with a discourse on eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man; Mark leaves it to his readers to spot the connection.[275]

The first feeding narrative has the echoes of the past miracles and the future Eucharistic feast. This is to show that like in the time of Moses (Ex 16:4) God is at work among his people. This kind of nationalistic satisfaction we cannot find in the second feeding narrative. But find similarity to Elisha´s miracle in 2 Ki 4:42-44, and they might have noted with appreciation the increase in the clientele from one hundred to five thousand while at the same time the number of loaves has decreased from twenty to five.[276]  In this latter case there can be little doubt that Mark had the story in mind, since not only is the situation of a hungry crowd and lack of food similar, but the narrative focuses on the same motifs, the command to the servant/disciples to feed the crowd, their surprised question in response, the satisfying of hunger, and the food left over at the end. Elijah also multiplied food for the widow of Zarephath (1 Ki. 17:8-16), though there is no echo of the wording of this story in Mark’s narrative.[277] Thus the Eucharistic symbolism is associated with the Elisha miracle rather than Moses´ manna typology. Although, Elijah also had done the multiplication of the food miracle, Elisha´s miracle is more typical and suitable these narratives.

3.4 Mark´s Intention

The words and the allusions do not really claim the Gentile motive in the second feeding narrative but the place where it is positioned and its literary context lead us to that conclusion. The continuing miracle passages describe Mark´s plan which states that Jesus as the Messiah of Israel extends his mission to the neighbouring peoples.

The wording of the pericope does not in itself demand a Gentile setting (the use in v. 8 of a different term for baskets from that used in 6:43 is at best a hint in this direction); it is its place in the developing plot of the gospel which leads to that conclusion, together with the question why else Mark should have chosen to include a second feeding miracle (on a reduced scale) which so closely duplicates the pattern of the feeding of the five thousand (6:31-44). Given a gentile location, however, the second feeding miracle fits well into Mark’s plan, as the third of a set of miracles (an exorcism, a healing, and a nature miracle) which extend the mission of the Messiah of Israel for the benefit also of neighbouring peoples. The narrative thus fills out Jesus’ discussion with the Syro-phoenician woman about allowing the dogs a share in the children’s bread, and in this incident the ‘bread’ is quite literally shared. That discussion accepted that the Gentiles’ share might be only ‘scraps’, and perhaps it is for this reason that Mark so carefully records a different set of statistics for this feeding: fewer people (four thousand instead of five thousand) fed with more loaves (seven instead of five) and ‘a few small fish’ but with less food left over (seven baskets instead of twelve). The numbers are meant to be noticed.[278]

Mark’s accounts of miracles often end with a mention of the amazement of the crowd; in this case, where the crowd were themselves the beneficiaries of the miracle, this might seem even more appropriate, and Mark’s silence both here and at the end of the second feeding miracle in 8:9 is surprising. Perhaps he means us to assume that they were unaware of the miraculous origin of the food, and simply took it for granted. What matters for Mark is rather the response of the disciples, or rather their failure to respond in the right way (v. 52; 8:17-21).[279] So this narrative has echoes, for those hearers/readers who are equipped to recognize them, both of past miracles and of the future Eucharistic feast. Mark clearly so intended it. But the patent symbolism should not lead us to miss what is surely the primary purpose in Mark’s inclusion of this story, the sheer wonder of an ‘impossible’ act, and the testimony which this provides in answer to the growing Christological question of this part of the gospel, ‘Who is Jesus?’ He is not merely the healer of afflicted individuals or the rescuer of endangered disciples; he is one who is not bound by the rules of normal experience of what is possible and impossible. In following him this representative group of Israelites, no less than those who followed Moses in the wilderness, will find all their need supernaturally supplied, for God is again at work among his people. (When we come to 8:1-10, however, any purely nationalistic satisfaction which this conclusion may arouse will be challenged.)[280]

Both here and in the equally improbable story which follows it in 6:45-52, commentators are sometimes expected to explain what actually happened. It is an unprofitable question, and suggested answers are characterized by speculation rather than by evidence. Mark (and the other evangelists agree in this) has no interest in explaining how the ‘laws of nature’ were suspended. For him, and therefore for those of his readers who want to share his understanding of the story, it was simply a miracle.[281]

Mark here does not emphasize on the amazement of the crowd or on disciple´s lack of understanding on the power of the Jesus´ miraculous power. He focuses this narrative to the Gentiles on that point his omission of his usual type of writing the miracles is justified. It is also unprofitable to try to know what actually happened because Mark´s intention is not giving the historical elements from his narrative, as proof for the occurrence of the miracle but his intention to give a gentile significance.

3.5 Extended Mission to the Gentiles

Although the geography of the second feeding narrative remains somewhat confused, we are able to sense Mark´s plan for Jesus´ mission is extended to the Gentiles. It also portrays Jesus table fellowship with the gentiles. Through this two narratives Mark offers a picture to his community that Jewish Jesus and Jewish disciples care for the sustenance of the both Jews and the Gentiles.

The second feeding narrative thus concludes the mission of Jesus to the Gentiles, since even in Mark´s somewhat confused geography, Jesus will soon begin his journey southward from the Jewish city of Bethsaida (8:22) to Jerusalem. Readers will soon learn that Jerusalem is to be the place of Jesus´ death and resurrection. Since table fellowship between Jews and Gentiles was a source of much controversy in the nascent church, Mark offers his community a picture of a Jewish Jesus and Jewish disciples who are concerned for the sustenance of both Jews and Gentiles, evocative perhaps of Paul´s understanding of the power of the gospel “to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom1:16).[282]


The OT allusions and motives are used in the first feeding narratives to portray Jesus as prophet, and to give him the Moses figure. But in the second feeding narrative we lack this background because OT mainly focuses on the Israelites not on the gentiles. So using OT allusions will not be suitable in the narrative which has the Gentile significance. Mark gives to the first feeding, the Jewish narrative setting and places the second feeding in a Gentile location and gives a gentile literary context. The information to the Jewish and gentile location is not clear from the texts itself. But first feeding has more Jewish allusions and motives and the second feeding comes after a text with the Gentile geographical setting (7:31 Decapolis). Thus Mark places the first feeding in a Jewish context and the second feeding in a Gentile context. Through this way Mark explains that Jesus extended his mission to the gentiles and had the table fellowship with the gentiles. Thus Mark establishes that Jesus proclaims the kingdom of God starting from Jews to the Gentile world and brings into fullness. This is a strong message to us that Jesus´ mission of love and mercy is extended to all the people of the world.

General Conclusion

In this thesis so far, through a detailed comparative study of the two feeding narratives we have tried to bring out the significance of the Jesus´ mission, which Mark wants to portray. In the preliminary analysis we established the text. Having analyzed its dramatic criterion we learned the information about the time, place and the persons. Through the form critical tool we learned that this miracle comes under the category of the ‘Gift Miracle’. 6:30-34 gives a summary statement to the apostles´ mission and functions as an introduction to the feeding narrative that follows it. Thus Mark presents the feeding as a separate literary unit, however connecting it to the whole gospel in terms of his theology of discipleship and his characteristic usage of a few important words. In the introductory part we find some traces of the Markan redaction. In the first feeding we find a texture of OT allusions and motifs to portray Jesus as the OT prophet and the eschatological Messiah. Mark portrays Jesus as the Shepherd who teaches and cares for the spiritual hunger of the people. Thus using the OT proverbial metaphor, Mark portrays Jesus as the one who tends the leaderless Israel through his teaching. By placing the first feeding narrative text after the story of John the Baptist, Mark gives the impression that Jesus, like Elisha performs the feeding miracle and portrays him as successor of the Elijah like figure John the Baptist. In the analysis of the meal procedure we have learned that Mark uses the terms of the ordinary Jewish meal for Jesus´ blessing of the loaves. Here Mark uses the word euvlo,ghsen to bless God for the loaves which is a Jewish way of blessing God for the meal. And also through the placement of this narrative in a Jewish context, we come across Mark´s motive and intention of presenting Jesus’ mission to the Jews.

In the second chapter we established the text and by studying its democratic criterion we learned the information about the place and time of its occurrence and the persons involved in that. Through form critical approach we categorized this miracle as ‘gift miracle’. Mark has positioned this narrative in between the incidents which occurred in the gentile area and in context of the miracles with the Hellenistic thaumaturgic characteristics. In contrast to the first feeding here we find the words (Hapax Legomena) which are used only once. Here Jesus gave thanks (εὐχαριστήσας) over the bread and said blessing (εὐλογήσας) over the fish. Thus we tend to assume that it could be a Hellenistic redaction. But these are all the Helenistic marks which are used by Mark to speak of the gentile context of the miracle. The term that some come from ‘far away’ places alludes to the gentiles mentioned in the OT. We learned that by comparing the first feeding the second narrative has little OT background. Mark has used the numbers, words and themes with a meaning that could be attributed to the Gentiles. ‘Seven loaves’ represents the seven Noachic commandments as a form of natural law for the humankind compared with the five books (five loaves) of Torah, the Mosaic Law given to the to the Israelite community. For Mark the number ‘seven’ is associated with the eschatological completeness and a new creation. The presence of giving thanks (εὐχαριστεῖν) in the Lukan and Pauline tradition may suggest that a similar Hellenistic setting left its mark here in this narrative also. Thus Mark presents this narrative with a gentile significance.

In the third chapter, we analyzed the similarities and the dissimilarities in the two feeding narratives. The similarities signify the same meaning to the miracle. But the dissimilarities in the first feeding signify the meaning to the Jews and the dissimilarities in the second feeding signify the meaning to the gentiles. The compassionate act of Jesus in the first feeding is the teaching which is very much applicable to the Jews. In the second feeding Jesus has a special concern for the people who come from ‘far away’ places which means the gentiles. The first feeding has a spiritual setting but the second feeding has a physical setting. In the first feeding the disciples lack of understanding is highlighted but Mark places second feeding near the narrative in which Jesus praised the Syro-Phonecian woman for her great faith. In the second feeding, wording of the pericope itself does not claim the gentile setting. By positioning the narrative in the gentile context Mark gives us the gentile significance. Mark does not emphasize on the amazement of the crowd and the lack of understanding of the disciples in the second feeding. Because he focuses on the gentiles on that point he is justified. Thus Mark portrays Jesus as the one who extends his mission starting from the Jews to the gentiles by his table fellowship with both of them. This is also a strong message to us to share the kingdom values with everyone in the world.


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Haenchen, E., Gesammelte Aufsätze. II. Tübingen 1968.

Kelber, W., The Kingdom in Mark. A new place and a new time. Philedelphia 1974.

------------, Mark’s Story of Jesus. Philadelphia 1979.

kertelge, Markusevangelium. Würzburg 1994.

Koch, D.A., Die Bedeutung der Wundererzälungen für die Christologie des Markusevangeliums. Beiträge zur wissenschaft vom alten und neuen testament. Berlin 1975.

Kuhn, H.W., Ältere Sammlungen im Markusevangelium. Göttingen 1971.

E. Lohmeyer, Das Evangelium des Markus . (MeyK 2) Göttingen 1962.

Lührmann, D., Das Markusevangelium. (HNT 3). Tübingen 1987.

Mann C.S., Mark: a new translation with introduction and commentary. The anchor Bible. NewYork 1986.

Pesch, R., Das Markusevangelium . (HTKNT 2/1–2). Freiburg 1977.

Reploh, K.G., Markus - Lehrer der Gemeinde: Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche Studie zu den Jüngerperikopen des Markusevangeliums. (SBM 9). Stuttgart 1969.

Reuber, Edger Handbuch zum Markus-Evangelium. Münster 2007.

Roloff, J., Apostolat-Verkündigung-Kirche. Gütersloh 1965.

-----------. Das Kerygma und der irdische Jesus: historische motive in den Jesus-erzählungen der Evangelien. Göttingen 1970.

Strack, H. / Billerbeck, P., Kommentar zum Neuen Testament. 2. Munich 1926-28.

Sehenke, L., Die Wundererzälungen des Markusevangeliums. Stuttgarter biblische Monographien, stuttgart 1974.

Swete, H.B., The gospel according to St.Mark. London 1898.

Wendling, E., Die Entstehung des Marcus Evangeliums. Tübingen 1908.


Achtemeier, Paul J., Towards the Isolation of pre-Markan Miracle catenae, in: JBL 89 (3) (1970) 265-291.

-------------, The Origin and Function of the Pre-Markan Miracle Catenae, in: JBL 91 (1972) 198-221.

Boobyer, G.H., The Eucharistic Interpretation of the Miracles of the Loaves in St. Mark’s Gospel, in: JTS 3 (1952) 161-71.

Danker, F.W., Mark 8:3. In: JBL 82 (1963) 215-16.

Donfried, K.P., The Feeding Narratives and the Marcan Community. In Kirche, Festshrift , S.G. Bornkamm, ed. D. Lührmann and G. Strecker. Tübingen (1980) 95-103.

Farrer, A., Loaves and Thousands. In: JTS 4 (1953) 1-14.

Freyne, Seán, The Geography of Restoration: Galilee-Jerusalem Relations in Early Jewish and Christian Experience. In: NTS 47 (2001) 289-311.

Friedrich, G., Die beiden Erzählungen von der Speisung in Mark. 6:31-44; 8:1-9, in: TZ 20 (1964) 10-22.

Iersel, Van, B. W., Die wunderbare Speisung und das Abendmahl in der synoptischen Tradition (Mk VI. 35-44 par VIII. 1-20 par). In: NovT 7 (1964) 167-94.

Jenkins, L.H., A Marcan Doublet. Studies in History and Religion, in: Festschrift , volume written in honor of H. W. Robinson, ed. E. A. Payne. London: Lutterworth (1942) 87-111.

Lang, F.G., Über Sidon mitten ins Gebiet der Dekapolis: Geographie und Theologie in Markus 7,31. In: ZDPV 94 (1978) 145-60.

Marxsen, W., Redaktionsgeschichtliche Erklärung der sogenannten Parabeltheorie des Markus. In Der Exeget als Theologe: Vorträge zum Neuen Testament. Gütersloh (1968) 69-70.

Masuda, S., The Good News of the Miracle of the Bread. The Tradition and Its Markan Redaction, in: NTS 28 (1982) 191-219.

Patsch, H., Abendmahlterminologie ausserhalb der Einsetzungsberichte: Erwägungen zur Traditionsgeschichte der Abendmahlsworte, in: ZNW 62 (1971) 210-31.

Snoy, T., La rédaction marcienne de la marche sur les eaux (Mc., VI:45-52). In: Ephemerides theologicae lovanienses 44 (1968) 205-41,433-81.

Thiering, B. E., ‘Breaking of Bread’ and ‘Harvest’ in Mark’s Gospel. In: NovT 12 (1970) 1-12.

Turner, C. H., Marcan Usage: Notes, Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel. In: JTS 29 (1928) 346-61; reprinted in Elliott, Language and Style, 3-136.

Ziener, G., Die Brotwunder im Markusevangelium. In: BZ 4 (1960) 282-85.

Online sources

Klausia, William L., The Feeding of the 5,000 and The Feeding of the 4,000 Mark 6:30-44 and 8:1-10 Doublet or Distinct Events? Mark Narratives.pdf, 24.03.2013., 16.05.2013., 16.05.2013.

Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, P. 698 - Google Books-Ergebnisseite, 24.03.2013., 24.03.2013.


[1] Dramatic criterion means change of place, change of time, change of characters (characters entering of leaving the “stage”), or change of action.

[2] Eduard Schweizer, Das Evangelium nach Markus. Göttingen 1983, 71-72.

[3] Kertelge, Die Wunder Jesu im Markusevangelium. München 1970, 130.

[4] Ludger Sehenke, Die Wundererzälungen des Markusevangeliums. Stuttgarter biblische Monographien. stuttgart 1974, 217-21.

[5] Vincent Taylor, The Gospel according to St.Mark. London 1953, 318.

[6] Egger, W. Frohbotschaft und Lehre: Die Sammelberichte des Wirkens Jesu im Markusevangelium. FTS 19, Frankfurt 1976, 121-122.

[7] R. A. Guelich, Word Biblical Commentary. Mark 1-8:26. (WBC 34A) Dallas 2002, 336.

[8] Guelich, WBC, 336.

[9] Ludger Schenke, Das Markusevangelium literarische eigenart-Text und kommentierung. Stuttgart 2005, 164.

[10] See, Mark 1:16; 2:13; 3:7; 4:1,35f; 5:21.

[11] Schenke, Das Markusevangelium, 169.

[12] Ibid, 170.

[13] Schenke, Das Markusevangelium, 172.

[14] Romanized words, supplied from context.

[15] See, 4:2 and 7:13. Perhaps an adverbial use of πολλά “at length.” See, Guelich, WBC, 335.

[16] Συμπόσιον means a festive company often used of drinking together or a banquet setting, and is used distributively here. See, Guelich, WBC, 335.

[17] πρασιαὶ πρασιαί literally designates a garden of herbs or leeks, and comes to mean a small area, “garden plot”. It is used distributively here, “group by group” in orderly arrangement. See, Guelich, WBC, 335.

[18] Read αὐτοῦ with P45 A D W Θ f1.13 Majority text lat sy samss in contrast to א B L Δ 33 892 1241 pc bo. The text is fairly evenly divided. Mark generally uses αὐτοῦ rather than τοῦ with “disciples” see, 6:1, 35, 45; see, B. M. Metzger, A textual commentary on the Greek New Testament. A companion volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, London/ New York 41994, 91.

[19] Read τοὺς ἄρτους with A B L Majority text f syp.h bo. Witnesses against (P45 hea D W Θ f1.13 28 565 700 lat sa) include Western readings that generally have a longer text. The elimination may be an attempt to align the text with bread and fish, though reading it is consistent with the emphasis on the “bread” in the account See, Metzger, Textual Commentary, 92.

[20] Metzger, A textual commentary, 78.

[21] Ibid, 78.

[22] G.Theissen, The Miracle Stories of the Early Christian Tradition. Tr. F. McDonagh. Edinburgh/ Philadelphia 1983, 103.

[23] See, Exod 16; Pss 78:18-30; 105:40.

[24] See, 1 Kgs 17:8-16; 2 Kgs 4:1-7, 42- 44; See, Guelich, WBC, 336.

[25] Rudolf Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition. Tr. J. Marsh. Rev. ed. Oxford: Blackwell/New York 1963, 217.

[26] G. Theissen, The Miracle, 103.

[27] A. Y. Collins, / H. W Attridge, Mark: A Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Hermeneia - a critical and historical commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis 2007, 316.

[28] Collins / Attridge, Mark, 316.

[29] See, Mk 1:33; 1:45; 2:1f; 3:7f; 3:20.

[30] See, Mk 1:35; 1:45.

[31] See, Mk 1:33; 1:45; 2:1f; 5:21.

[32] See, Mk 1:45; 2:1f; 3:7f; 5:21.

[33] Schenke, Das Markusevangelium, 166.

[34] See, Mk 1:21f; 2:1.

[35] Schenke, Das Markusevangelium, 166.

[36] See, Mk1:12f,35,45.

[37] Schenke, Das Markusevangelium, 167.

[38] See, Ps 23:1f; 78:70-72; Hos13:4-6; Jer 31:10; 23:3; Ez 34:6, 23-31.

[39] Schenke, Das Markusevangelium, 169.

[40] See: 8:1-9; Jn 6:1-15.

[41] Karl kertelge, Makusevangelium, Würzburg 1994, 67.

[42] Kuhn, Ältere Sammlungen im Markusevangelium. Göttingen 1971, 203-10.

[43] See, Mk 5:43b and 6:37a.

[44] Guelich, WBC, 337.

[45] R. M. Fowler, Loaves and Fishes: The Funcrum of the Feeding Stories in the Gospel of Mark. (SBLDS 54). Chicago 1978, 68-90.

[46] Ibid, 68.

[47] Doublets are seemingly identical duplicative narratives of the same event.

[48] S. Masuda, The Good News of the Miracle of the Bread. The Tradition and Its Markan Redaction, in: NTS 28 (1982), 191-219.

[49] See, Mk 4:36; 5:2, 18, 21; 6:45.

[50] See, Mk 4:35-36; 5:1-2, 18, and 21.

[51] See, Mk 4:35-36; also, 3:9 and 5:17.

[52] Guelich, WBC, 337-338.

[53] See, Mk 1:21-27; 6:2.

[54] Guelich, WBC, 338.

[55] Ibid, 40.

[56] See, Mk 1:16-20; 3:7-12, John R. Donahau / Daniel J.Harrington, The Gospel of Mark. (SPS 2). Minnesota 2002, 204.

[57] Schenke, Das Markusevangelium, 166.

[58] Gnilka, Das evangelium, 262.

[59] J. Roloff, Apostolat-Verkündigung-Kirche. Gütersloh 1965, 142.

[60] See, Luke 9:10; 10:17.

[61] Guelich, WBC, 337.

[62] L. H. Jenkins, A Marcan Doublet. In Studies in History and Religion, Festschrift, volume written in honor of H. W. Robinson, ed. E. A. Payne. London 1942, 87-111.

[63] Taylor, The gospel, 628-32.

[64] Guelich, WBC, 337.

[65] kertelge, Makusevangelium, 67.

[66] Eduard schweizer, Das Evangelium, 71.

[67] Joakim Gnilka, Das evangelium nach Markus. Mk1-8,26. (EKKNT 1). Düsseldorf 62008, 255.

[68] J.Wellhausen, Das Evangelium Marci. Berlin 21909, 47.

[69] Taylor, The gospel, 318.

[70] J.Wellhausen, Das Evangelium, 47.

[71] R. Bultmann, Die Geschichte der Synoptischen Tradition. Göttingen 21931, 259, 365; B.H.Branscomb, The Gospel of Mark -The moffatt New Testament commentary. London 1937, 112; who describes it as ‘stage scenary’.

[72] See, Mk 2:2; 3:7f, 20; 4:1f.

[73] See, Mk 2:13; 6:1; 7:31; 8:11, 27; 9:30; 11:12.

[74] Gnilka, Das evangelium, 255.

[75] Gnilka, Das evangelium, 256.

[76] R. Pesch, Das Markusevangelium. (HTKNT 2/1-2). Freiburg 1977, 349-50.

[77] Guelich, WBC, 338.

[78] Taylor, The gospel, 318.

[79] Matthew Black, Peake´s Commentry on the Bible, New York 1963, 806.

[80] K. G. Reploh, Markus-Lehrer der Gemeinde: Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche Studie zu den Jüngerperikopen des Markusevangeliums . (SBM 9). Stuttgart 1969, 55.

[81] Roloff, Apostolat, 142.

[82] Guelich, WBC, 338.

[83] C.S.Mann, Mark: a new translation with introduction and commentary. The anchor Bible. New York 1986, 301.

[84] Edger Reuber, Handbuch zum Markus-Evangelium. Münster 2007, 88.

[85] Donahau / Harrington, The Gospel, 204.

[86] Guelich, WBC, 339.

[87] Guelich, WBC, 339.

[88] J. Marcus, Mark 1-8: A new translation with introduction and commentary. (AYB 27A). London 2008, 405.

[89] See, Mk 1:35; 6:45-46.

[90] Guelich, WBC, 339.

[91] Collins / Attridge, Mark, 318.

[92] R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A commentary on the Greek text. Michigan 2002, 264.

[93] Guelich, WBC, 339.

[94] Henry Barclay Swete, The gospel according to St.Mark. London 1898, 122.

[95] Schweizer, Das Evangelium, 73.

[96] Guelich, WBC, 340.

[97] Ibid, 340.

[98] T. Snoy, La rédaction marcienne de la marche sur les eaux (Mc., VI:45-52). ETL 44 (1968) 205-41.

[99] “The other side” ties this story to the previous one by indicating the arrival at the destination given in 4:35 for the boat trip. This phrase provides a common thread running through the miracle stories of 4:35; 5:1, 25; 6:45 and does not connote any specific “side” of the sea (see, 4:35/5:1 and 5:21) but serves as a “non descript expression used to shift the stage scenery” see, Fowler, Loaves, 59-60. But the specification of “the other side” geographically as “the region of the Gerasenes” does indicate that here the “other side” means the east side of the sea.

[100] Pesch, Das Markusevangelium, 349.

[101] Guelich, WBC, 340.

[102] Guelich, WBC , 340.

[103] Ibid, WBC, 340.

[104] See, Ezek 34:23: “I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.”

[105] G. Ziener, Die Brotwunder im Markusevangelium. In: BZ 4 (1960) 283-84.

[106] The evangelist moved away somewhat from emphasizing Jesus’ response to the crowd’s physical needs by adding that Jesus’ compassion resulted in his “teaching them.” This accent becomes Mark’s superscript for the Feeding miracle. But we learn now that the disciples themselves had failed to comprehend what Jesus’ “teaching” through word and deed had taught about himself, even though they had actually participated in the miracle itself by distributing the food and gathering the leftovers. Their astonishment reflects much more than their surprise at his ability to perform miracles. See, Guelich, WBC, 352.

[107] Gnilka, Das evangelium, 259.

[108] Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue on the sabbath closely parallels the scene in Capernaum in 1:21. This similarity and the Markan characteristic ἤρξατο with the infinitive (especially διδάσκειν-4:1; 6:34) suggests the evangelist’s hand in this setting. See, Guelich, WBC, 308.

[109] Guelich, WBC, 340

[110] Ibid, 338.

[111] France, The Gospel, 266.

[112] France, The Gospel, 266.

[113] W.Bauer, F.W.Gingrich, W.Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Chicago 1958, 780.

[114] 1QS 72:21-22; CD 13:1; 1QM 4:1-5:17; 1QSa 1:14-15, 28-29. See, Martin G. Abegg, Jr., Qumran Sectarian Manuscripts -with morphological and lexical tags. See,Gnilka, Das evangelium, 261.

[115] 1QSa 2:11-22. See, Abegg, Qumran. See,Gnilka, Das evangelium, 261.

[116] Gnilka, Das evangelium, 261.

[117] kertelge, Makusevangelium, 69.

[118] H. Strack / P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament. 2. Munich 1926-28, 246.

[119] Cranfield, C. E. B. The Gospel According to Saint Mark. Cambridge 1963, 219.

[120] Strack / Billerbeck, Kommentar, 611-39.

[121] J. Roloff, Das Kerygma und der irdische Jesus: historische motive in den Jesus-erzählungen der Evangelien. Göttingen 1970, 244.

[122] Guelich, WBC, 342.

[123] kertelge, Makusevangelium, 69.

[124] See, Matt 14:19-21.

[125] Guelich, WBC, 342.

[126] Taylor, The gospel, 324; G. Ziener, Die Brotwunder, 282-85; esp. Van Iersel, Die wunderbare Speisung und das Abendmahl in der synoptischen Tradition (Mk VI. 35-44 par VIII. 1-20 par). In: NovT 7 (1964), 167-94.

[127] P. Achtemeier, The Origin and Function of the Pre-Markan Miracle Catenae. In: JBL 91 (1972) 208-09.

[128] G. H. Boobyer, The Eucharistic Interpretation of the Miracles of the Loaves in St. Mark’s Gospel. In: JTS 3, (1952) 161-71.

[129] J. Roloff, Das Kerygma, 244.

[130] Van Iersel, Die wunderbare, 171, 174-75.

[131] H. Patsch, Abendmahlterminologie, 227-228.

[132] Guelich, WBC, 343.

[133] Guelich, WBC, 343.

[134] Strack / Billerbeck, Kommentar, 447.

[135] Guelich, WBC, 343.

[136] Ibid, 344.

[137] B. E. Thiering, ‘Breaking of Bread’ and ‘Harvest’ in Mark’s Gospel. In: NovT 12 (1970) 1-12.

[138] Thiering, Breaking, 3.

[139] Guelich, WBC, 343.

[140] J. Marcus, Mark, 414.

[141] E. Lohmeyer, Das Evangelium des Markus . (MeyK 2) Göttingen 1962,125

[142] Werner H. Kelber, Mark’s Story of Jesus. Philadelphia 1979, 39; see also, Seán Freyne, The Geography of Restoration: Galilee-Jerusalem Relations in Early Jewish and Christian Experience. In: NTS 47 (2001) 289-311, esp. 306.

[143] Collins / Attridge, Mark, 378.

[144] Koch, D.-A. Die Bedeutung der Wundererzälungen für die Christologie des Markusevangeliums. Beiträge zür Wissenschaft vom alten und neusn testament, Berlin 1975, 90; Marxsen, W. Redaktionsgeschichtliche Erklärung der sogenannten Parabeltheorie des Markus. In Der Exeget als Theologe: Vorträge zum Neuen Testament. Gütersloh 1968, 69-70.

[145] It is a federation of ten cities of Hellenistic culture in an area east of Samaria and Galilee. The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder (ca. a.d. 77) lists them as Damascus, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippos, Dion, Pella, Gerasa, and Canatha. See, Harper´s Bible Dictionary.

[146] Kertelge, Die Wunder, 143.

[147] Usually occurring at the beginning or end of a sentence, a genitive absolute is a grammatical construction used in the Greek language. Included in a participle, a genitiveabsolute indicates the subject of the participle is not the same subject as the main sentence. This construct is necessary in Greek because Greek verbs are otherwise automatically paired with the subject of the main sentence. Genitive absolutes are denoted by a change in spelling of both verb and noun in the participle.

[148] Guelich, WBC, 403.

[149] Collins / Attridge, Mark, 378.

[150] Some Manuscripts read παμπολλοῦ for ηάλιν ηολλοῦ (א1006 1506 Majority text syh samss bomss), a word not found in the Bible.

[151] ἡμέραι τρεῖς is a nominativus pendens or a “parenthetic nominative” See, Taylor, The gospel, 358.

[152] A few Manuscripts omit αὐτά in keeping with the Jewish practice of thanking/blessing God rather than the food (E G H 33 579 700 1006 1506 pm).

[153] {B} The letter {B} indicates that the text is almost certain.

[154] Metzger, A textual commentary, 96.

[155] Uncial is a majuscule script (written entirely in capital letters) commonly used from the 3rd to 8th centuries AD by Latin and Greek scribes. See,, 16.05.2013.

[156] minuscule is a copy of a portion of the New Testament written in a small, cursive Greek script (developed from Uncial). See,, 16.05.2013.

[157] Many attempts have been made to account linguistically or palaeographically for the origin of the word Dalmanutha (see Eb. Nestle in Hastings’ Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, i, pp. 406 f., and the literature mentioned in Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker, s.v.).

[158] Metzger, A textual commentary, 97.

[159] Friedrich, Die beiden Erzählungen von der Speisung in Mark 6:31-44; 8:1-9. In: TZ 20 (1964) 13-14

[160] Theissen, Miracle Stories, 103-4.

[161] Guelich, WBC, 402.

[162] Jenkins, A Marcan, 87-111; Kuhn, Ältere Sammlungen, 29-32.

[163] Taylor, the gospel, 628-32; See also, Gnilka, Das evangelium, 315

[164] Roloff, Das Kerygma, 243; Van Iersel, Die wunderbare, 185.

[165] Guelich, WBC, 402.

[166] Wendling, E. Die Entstehung des Marcus Evangeliums. Tübingen 1908, 68-75.

[167] Fowler, R. M. Loaves, 43-90.

[168] Donfried, K. P. The Feeding Narratives and the Marcan Community. In Kirche, Festschrift, S. G. Bornkamm, ed. D. Lührmann and G. Strecker. Tübingen 1980, 95-103.

[169] Guelich, WBC, 403.

[170] Achtemeier, Miracle Catenae, 289 and with Bultmann History, 217. Karl Ludwig Schmidt argued that πάλιν (“again”) is the only editorial addition; he came to this conclusion because the word occurs so often in Mark (Der Rahmen, 192). Theissen assigns 8:1. to the oldest stratum (Miracle Stories, 125). Achtemeier is inclined to take ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις πάλιν (“in those days again”) as redactional, because then the account would begin with a genitive absolute. He notes that three other miracle stories begin with genitive absolutes, but these are all from the first source, whereas 8:1-9 is from the second (Miracle Catenae, 289 n. 95; see, 291).

[171] Hapax Legomena - Words and Phrases which are recorded as having been used only once.

[172] Guelich, WBC, 402.

[173] Patsch, H. Abendmahlsterminologie ausserhalb der Einsetzungsberichte. In: ZNW 62 (1971) 222-23; Van Iersel, Die wunderbare,185.

[174] Guelich, WBC, 406-407

[175] C.H. Turner, Marcan Usage: Notes, Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel. In: JTS 29 (1928) 349-52.

[176] Collins / Attridge, Mark, 380.

[177] Schenke, Wundererzälungen, 282.

[178] Guelich, WBC, 402.

[179] Miracle worker.

[180] David Noel freedman / Gary A.Herion, u.a. The anchor bible dictionary. 4. New York 1992, 859.

[181] Koch, Die Bedeutung, 90.

[182] Haenchen, Gesammelte Aufsätze. II. Tübingen 1968, 278.

[183] See, Mk1:31-32, 45; 2:2; 3:7-8, 20; 4:1-2; 6:32-44.

[184] Collins/Attridge, Mark, 403.

[185] Collins/Attridge, Mark, 403.

[186] Danker, Mark 8:3. In: JBL 82 (1963) 215.

[187] Van Iersel, Die wunderbare, 184-85.

[188] Strack / Billerbeck, Kommentar, 585-86.

[189] Schweizer, Das Evangelium, 156.

[190] See, ἐπʼ ἐρημίας, in 1:4; 1:35; see, ἔρημος ὁ τόπος in 6:31, 35.

[191] Theissen, The Miracle, 56.

[192] Guelich, WBC, 404.

[193] See, Gen 9:4-6: (1) administration of justice, (2) prohibition of idolatry, (3) blasphemy, (4) immorality, (5) murder, (6) stealing, and (7) eating a part of a live animal.

[194] Gnilka, Das evangelium, 303.

[195] The loaves of bread placed every Sabbath on the table beside the altar of incense in the tabernacle or temple of ancient Israel (Ex 25:30; Lev 24:5-9).

[196] Farrer, Loaves and Thousands. In: JTS 4 (1953) 4-5.

[197] Lang, Über Sidon mitten ins Gebiet der Dekapolis: Geographie und Theologie in Markus 7,31. ZDPV 94 (1978) 158–59; Masuda, The Good News, 205; Thiering, Breaking, 4.

[198] Guelich, WBC, 404.

[199] Ibid, 407.

[200] Marcus, Mark, 488.

[201] Guelich, WBC, 408.

[202] Marcus, Mark, 489.

[203] Van Iersel, Die wunderbare, 178; Kertelge, Die Wunder, 40

[204] Patsch, Abendmahlsterminologie, 218-19; Gnilka, Das evangelium, 303.

[205] Guelich, WBC,405.

[206] Van Iersel, Die wunderbare, 171-73.

[207] Patsch, Abendmahlsterminologie, 219-28.

[208] Van Iersel, Die wunderbare, 185.

[209] Guelich, WBC, 401-402.

[210] Roloff, Das Kerygma, 241-45; Van Iersel, Die wunderbare, 178-79; Gnilka, Das evangelium, 303.

[211] Patsch, Abendmahlsterminologie, 210-31.

[212] Guelich, WBC, 406.

[213] Donahau / Harrington, The Gospel, 210.

[214] Paul F. Bradshaw, The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship: Sources and Methods for the Study of Early Liturgy London, 2002, 43.

[215] Gnilka, Das evangelium, 303; Van Iersel, Die wunderbare, 185.

[216] Guelich, WBC, 406-407.

[217] Mark also uses εὐχαριστεῖν (“to give thanks”) in the second feeding story (8:6).

[218] Paul F. Bradshaw, The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship: Sources and Methods for the Study of Early Liturgy. New York/Oxford 1992, 15-16.

[219] Collins/Attridge, Mark, 325.

[220] Gnilka, Das evangelium, 303.

[221] Guelich, WBC, 406-407.

[222] Collins / Attridge, Mark, 380.

[223] Ibid, 380.

[224] P. Achtemeier, Toward the Isolation of Pre-Markan Miracle catenae. In: JBL, 1970, Vol.89(3), pp.(265-291) 289-90. Andreas Bedenbender argued that “Dalmanoutha” is a symbolic name, meaning roughly “Doubts-City,” created by Mark to characterize the Pharisees in the subsequent account of the request for a sign (“Orte mitten im Meer,” 44-47).

[225] deep structure analysis (side by side analysis)

[226] A unit of language consisting of sets of phenomes, words and phrases that are arranged in order. See, Oxford Learner´s Dictionary. (surface structure analysis)

[227] Lexical parallelism, that is, the repetition of lexical items, is an important device for indicating the sentence connections in a text (discourse). See online, 24.03.2013. Parallelism activates all the aspects of language at once lexical (vocabulary), grammatical (syntax and morphology), semantic (meaning), phonological (sounds) on the levels of the word and the line. See online: Mercer Dictionary of the Bible - Seite 698 - Google Books-Ergebnisseite 24.03.2013.

[228] Parallel syntax is a grammatical device in which different sentences or parts of a sentence are arranged similarly to one another. This technique may be applied to phrases located close to one another in the same section of a text, or used on sentences throughout a document. This grammatical device not only helps to connect different ideas and improve the flow of a text, but also allows the author to emphasize a specific point or draw attention to the order of words in a sentence. See online, 24.03.2013.

[229] P. W. Barnett, The Feeding of the Multitude in Mark 6/John 6, Gospel Perspectives: The Miracles of Jesus. (Vol. 6), eds. D. Wenham & C. Blomberg, Sheffield 1986, 275f.

[230] William L.Klausia, The Feeding of the 5,000 and The Feeding of the 4,000 Mark 6:30-44 and 8:1-10 “Doublet or Distinct Events?” See, online: pdf, 24.03.2013.

[231] Donahau/Harrington, The Gospel, 205.

[232] Gnilka, Das evangelium, 256.

[233] Donahau/Harrington, The Gospel, 209.

[234] Ibid, The Gospel, 208.

[235] Guelich, WBC, 401.

[236] Achtemeier, Miracle Catenae, 289; and with Bultmann History, 217. Karl Ludwig Schmidt argued that πάλιν (“again”) is the only editorial addition; he came to this conclusion because the word occurs so often in Mark (Der Rahmen, 192). Theissen assigns 8:1 to the oldest stratum (Miracle Stories, 125). Achtemeier is inclined to take ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις πάλιν (“in those days again”) as redactional, because then the account would begin with a genitive absolute. He notes that three other miracle stories begin with genitive absolutes, but these are all from the first source, whereas 8:1-9 is from the second. See,Miracle Catenae, 289 n. 95; see. 291.

[237] Donahau/Harrington, The Gospel, 246.

[238] Marcus, Mark, 416.

[239] Ibid, 490.

[240] E.Haenchen, Gesammelte, 278.

[241] Donahau/Harrington, The Gospel, 246.

[242] Marcus, Mark, 491.

[243] Farrer, Loaves, 1-14; Thiering, breaking, 2-5.

[244] Collins/Attridge, Mark, 344.

[245] It is often argued that the first feeding took place in a Jewish region as an expression of Jesus’ beneficence to Jews and that the second feeding took place in a Gentile region and was directed to Gentiles. See, Kelber, Mark’s Story, 39; The implied setting of the second feeding story in Mark, however, is also Galilee. Since the Sea of Galilee is mentioned in the context as the end of Jesus’ journey, it is likely that the evangelist intended to set the healing of the deaf man in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee. Further, Mark probably intended to portray the region of Tyre in the preceding passage as a primarily Gentile cultural area, even though there were Jews living in the area. With the healing of the deaf man, however, the evangelist portrays Jesus as returning to a primarily Jewish region. See; Collins / Attridge, Mark, 369.

[246] Ibid, 343.

[247] J. Marcus, Mark, 489.

[248] Guelich, WBC, 343.

[249] Farrer, Loaves, 4-5, seeks a hidden meaning by viewing both Feedings together with five loaves for five thousand and seven loaves for potentially seven thousand. Taken together the two totals would equal the completed number of twelve thousand, an allusion to the twelve-tribed Israel. Accordingly, the story implies a future Feeding of Three Thousand (similarly Thiering, Breaking, 4, since only four thousand were fed. Such a speculative reading assumes without support an anticipated third Feeding and either the prior existence of these two variants together in a tradition or an overly subtle Markan redaction of 8:1-9 according to this scheme. See, Collins / Attridge, Mark, 408

[250] Collins/Attridge, Mark, 408.

[251] Marcus, Mark, 490.

[252] Gnilka, Das Evangelium, 259.

[253] Guelich, WBC, 334.

[254] Bultmann, History, 217; 66. He argued also that Jesus’ statement in 8:2 that he has pity on the crowd is secondary in comparison with the narrator’s comment about his pity in 6:34 (ibid, 217). It could be so, but it is noteworthy that the narrator’s description of Jesus’ pity in 6:34 is combined with an allusion to the biblical motif of the king as a shepherd.

[255] Collins/Attridge, Mark, 378.

[256] In 1:3, 4, 12 and 13, the related adjective ἔρημος (“unpopulated”) is used substantively to indicate the wilderness or desert.

[257] Collins/Attridge, Mark, 378.

[258] Achtemeier, Miracle Catenae, 290 n. 98.

[259] Collins/Attridge, Mark, 378.

[260] Marcus, Mark, 487. In ancient Judaism, therefore, to make a Gentile into a proselyte was to bring him or her near to God (Exod 18:5), and Eph 2:13 reapplies this proselyte terminology to Gentiles who become Christians (see, Acts 2:39; 22:21; See, Guelich, 404).

[261] Collins/Attridge, Mark, 379.

[262] Paul reports a tradition that Jesus, on the night on which he was handed over, took bread, gave thanks (εὐχαριστεῖν), and broke it (1 Cor 11:23-24).

[263] According to Paul F. Bradshaw, among first century Jews either a “blessing” (berakah) or a “thanksgiving” (hodayah) could be said in connection with a meal (Search, 15-17). See, Paul’s practice according to Acts 27:35.

[264] Bradshaw, Search, 26.

[265] France, The Gospel, 268.

[266] Ibid, 306.

[267] In Mark’s own account we may note the striking specification, as in all four accounts, that the five thousand who were fed were ἄνδρες (reinforced by Matthew with the additional phrase χωρὶς γυναικῶν καὶ παιδίων), the OT image ὡς πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα (v. 34) which in 1 Ki. 22:17 denotes a leaderless army, the military-style organisation of the crowd into fifties and hundreds (though the terms συμπόσιον and πρασιά do not sound very military), and the strong language of v. 45 about Jesus’ quick and firm action (εὐθὺς ἠνάγκασεν) to remove the disciples from the scene. But it is in John’s account that we find the explicit statement that this crowd of men, having identified Jesus as the coming prophet, attempted to ‘take him by force and make him king’, an ambition frustrated only by Jesus’ rapid escape into the hills (Jn. 6:14-15).

[268] France, The Gospel , 306.

[269] France, The Gospel, 306.

[270] Marcus, Mark, 406.

[271] Ibid, 406.

[272] Marcus, Mark, 487.

[273] L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews , 7 vols, Philadelphia 1909-38, 3.45; 6.18 n. 103.

[274] W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew 2, New York 2004, 563-64.

[275] France, The Gospel, 262.

[276] A later rabbinic discussion ( b.   Ket.  106a) argued that Elisha must have had not 100 men but 2200, since 20 loaves among 100 was overgenerous for a time of famine; so the text must mean 100 men per loaf. Even this inflated figure, however, falls short of Jesus’ ratio of 1:1,000.

[277] France, The Gospel, 263.

[278] France, The Gospel , 305.

[279] Ibid, 268.

[280] Ibid, 263.

[281] Ibid, 263.

[282] Donahau/Harrington, The Gospel, 246.

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The Feeding Narratives in Mark
Studying the Significance by a Comparative Analysis
University of Innsbruck  (Collegium Canisianum)
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feeding, narratives, mark, studying, significance, comparative, analysis
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Eddy Dharmanand Savarimuthu (Author), 2013, The Feeding Narratives in Mark, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • This is an excellent comparative study between the two feeding narratives in the gospel of Mark.

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Title: The Feeding Narratives in Mark

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