The feedings of the five and four thousand.

Matthew 14.15-21; 15.32-39 = Mark 6.35-44; 8.1-10 = Luke 9.12-17  (John 6.3-15).

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Notes and quotes.

§ I count the following agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark:

  1. Matthew 14.15 and Luke 9.12 each have δε, while Mark 6.35 has και. A common agreement.
  2. Matthew 14.15 has τους οχλους (the crowds) and Luke 9.12 has τον οχλον (the crowd). Mark 6.36 has αυτους (them) instead.
  3. Matthew 14.15 has the definite article τας to modify κωμας (villages). Luke 9.12 also has τας to modify κωμας in first place, but adds αγρους (fields) in second place. In Mark 6.36 the definite article τους modifies αγρους in first place, but κωμας is also present in second place.
  4. Matthew 14.17 and Luke 9.13 each have οι δε (but they) where Mark 6.37 has only και (and). This match involves a rather common agreement.
  5. Matthew 14.17 and Luke 9.13 agree in having ουκ (no) where the phrasing in Mark 6.37 lacks it.
  6. Matthew 14.15 and Luke 9.13 both have βρωματα (foods) against Mark 6.36 or 6.38, which lack it; however, the Matthean and Lucan instances are not strictly in parallel.
  7. Matthew 14.18 and Luke 9.14 have ειπεν δε (but he said). Mark 6.38-39 lacks it.
  8. Matthew 14.19 has the accusative τους οχλους (the crowds) and Luke 9.14 has the accusative αυτους (them) against the dative αυτοις (to them) in Mark 6.39.
  9. Matthew 14.19 has τοις οχλοις (to the crowds) and Luke 9.16 has τω οχλω (to the crowd). Mark 6.41 has αυτοις (to them) instead.
  10. Matthew 14.20 and Luke 9.17 each have the genitive κλασματων (of broken bread, or of fragments) against the accusative κλασματα (broken bread, or fragments) in Mark 6.43.
  11. Matthew 14.20 has το περισσευον and Luke 9.17 has το περισσευσαν (both roughly meaning left over). Mark 6.43 lacks a parallel. However, Mark 8.8 (from the feeding of the four thousand) has περισσευματα.
  12. Matthew 14.21 and Luke 9.14 both have ωσει (about). Mark 6.44 lacks a parallel word. However, Mark 8.9 (from the feeding of the four thousand) has ως (about).

§ The phrase χωρις γυναικων και παιδιων (apart from women and children) in Matthew 14.21 and 15.38 is a repeated formula. The phrase η δε ημερα ηρξατο κλινειν (but the day began to decline) in Luke 9.12 is also repeated in Luke 24.29.

§ There are very clear thematic and verbal connections between these accounts of miraculous feedings and the accounts of the last supper of Jesus with his disciples.

§ John Dominic Crossan, on page 406 of The Historical Jesus, calls attention to book 8 of the Sibylline Oracles, lines 273-278, which he renders as follows:

  1. With a word shall he make the winds to cease, and calm the sea
  2. While it rages walking on it with feet of peace and in faith.
  3. And from five loaves and fish of the sea
  4. He shall feed five thousand men in the desert,
  5. And then taking all the fragments left over
  6. He will fill twelve baskets for a hope of the people.

The Greek runs as follows:

  1. Τους ανεμους παυσειε λογω, στορεσει δε θαλασσαν
  2. μαινομενην ποσιν ειρηνης πιστει τε πατησας.
  3. εκ δ αρτων αμα πεντε και ιχθυος ειναλιοιο
  4. ανδρων χιλιαδας εν ερημω πεντε κορεσσει,
  5. και τα περισσευοντα λαβων τοτε κλασματα παντα
  6. δωδεκα πληρωσει κοφινους εις ελπιδα λαων.