Date: Tue, 6 Jan 1998 19:40:56 -0500
From: "Stephen C. Carlson" 
Subject: Re: Numerology in Mark

At 02:12  1/6/98 -0500, Mahlon H. Smith wrote:

>   2. IF Acts were written before Mark & IF Mark (like Matthew) gave
>some EXPLICIT clue that he knew of the sociological development of the
>primitive ekklesia (like Matthew) or a mission among the Greeks (like
>John), then a plausible argument for a deliberate allusion to the 7
>deacons in the feeding of the 4000 might be made. But neither condition
>is the case.

In case my position was not clear, I maintained that there is probably no
symbolism in the text of Mark, but that Matthew's text does present a more
tenable case (even if ultimately unpersuasive)  for a symbolism, to wit,
12 apostles and 7 deacons.  However, I wish to traverse here the idea that
there is no gentile mission in Mark. 


>Again I conclude that there is no allusion to a gentile mission in Mark,
>either explicit or implicit.

What do you make of the following passages?

Mk3:8 "hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers
from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around
Tyre and Sidon."  Idumea?  Beyond the Jordan?  Region around Tyre and
Sidon? (Does Idumea suggests the Herodian party?) 

At Mk5:18-20, Jesus enjoins the demoniac in the country of the Gerasenes
(5:1) living near a herd of swine (5:11) to "'Go *home* to your friends,
and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has
shown you.' And he went away and began to proclaim in the *Decapolis* how
much Jesus had done for him."  Everything about this demoniac and his
mission is Gentile. 

Not only does Jesus send someone to the Decapolis, Mark places Jesus there
in Mk7:31 "Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went by way of
Sidon toward the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis" and had a
great, hungry crowd with him (8:1), placing the second feeding in Gentile

Mark has Jesus say that "the good news must first be proclaimed to all
nations" (13:10) and that the Son of Man will "gather his elect from the
four winds, *from the ends of the earth* to the ends of heaven."  At
Mk14:9, Jesus says that "wherever the good needs is proclaimed *throughout
the whole world*, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her." 

In the cleansing of the Temple, Jesus says in Mk11:17 "My house shall be
called a house of prayer *for all nations*".  Yuri already brought up the
woman who "was Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin" (7:26). 

Surely, at least one of these passages must constitute an "allusion to a
gentile mission in Mark, either explicit or implicit"?  I note that all
these passages are more pro-Gentile than the corresponding passages in
Matthew and even Luke to a certain extent. 

Stephen Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson                   : Poetry speaks of aspirations,              : and songs chant the words. :               -- Shujing 2.35

Date: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 15:00:53 -0500
To: dmurphy 
Subject: Re: Murphy to Davies on Myers: Pt. 2

Hi, Don,

I will only reply to the part in your very long tripartite message that
refers to the second feeding of the multitudes in Mk. 

On Sun, 18 Jan 1998, dmurphy wrote:


>      (Current comments of Don:)
>      When I first read your above comments, Steve, and each time I have
>      read them again, I think of the surprise that I have experienced
>      over the past weeks while reading the many contributions to the
>      subject theme of "Numerology in Mark" (or something similar to
>      that).  Only gradually was I able to accept the fact that so few
>      Crosstalk contributers, even such remarkably competent scholars as
>      Mahlon and yourself, seemed simply not to have been able to find 
>      the time to study the, at least for me, ground-breaking work on
>      Mark of Werner Kelber (late seventies and early eighties).  I had
>      naively thought that all New Testament scholars would have known
>      about the way in which Kelber "stood on the shoulder of giants
>      before him" such as Paul Achtemeier in his series of JBL articles
>      in the 1960's regarding the strange structure, which he could not
>      understand but found inescapable, of Mark 4,35-8,22.
>      Kelber was able, brilliantly in my judgment (and also in Crossan's
>      judgment in The Historical Jesus) to show how Mark was using both
>      the Lake of Galilee and the voyages of Jesus with his disciples 
>      back and forth "to the other side" of the Lake as "symbolic 
>      geography"  (that may well be my expression developed over years of 
>      teaching Kelber's position) in this long section of his Gospel.  
>      Kelber shows how Mark uses this symbolism to refer, at first, to 
>      the huge barrier between Jewish and gentile worlds and then, 
>      gradually, to the growing unity in a new "humanity" of solidarity. 
>      Kelber exegetically showed how Mark, in his symbolic narrative, 
>      places the Jewish world fundamentally on the western bank of the 
>      lake and the gentile world fundamentally on the eastern bank of the 
>      lake.
>      The numerical symbolism so strongly emphasized (by Mark's common
>      framing or inclusion technique) in 8,14-21 picks up on numbers used
>      not only in the feedings on either side of the lake but also in
>      other significant places (e.g., the *twelve* year-old daughter of
>      Jairus, prominently described as the leader of the Jewish synagogue
>      and the *twelve* years of hemorrhaging of the woman whose healing  
>      framed by the two sections of the healing of the daughter of 
>      Jairus -- both scenes presented on the Jewish side of the Lake).
>      For me over the years it had become "evident" that the number 12
>      refers to the symbolic importance of the twelve tribes of Israel 
>      (so unequivocally shown in Rev 7) and that the number 7 draws on
>      the common meaning in both Hebrew and specifically Christian
>      scriptures of "vastness" or "totality" to refer to the entirety
>      of the non-Jewish world of the first century. 

All this useful info that you give here basically supports my thesis that
the 7 baskets left over after the second feeding in Mk symbolized the
spiritual food meant for the Gentiles, as mediated by the 7 Hellenistic
deacons of Acts.

>      (You can see that
>      I cannot agree with the suggestion that the number 7 has reference
>      on Mark's part to the deacons of Acts 6, though I think that that
>      passage too is drawing on the basic symbolic meaning of the number
>      7 in Judaism.)

So why then can you not agree that Mk's 7 baskets was a reference to the 7




Date: Sun, 4 Jan 1998 13:40:42 -0500
From: Jonathon Clark/Maggy Whitehouse 
Subject: Re: Numerology in Mark

>At 09:32  12/28/97 +0100, Jan Sammer wrote:
>>Tom Kopecek raised the issue of the significance of the numbers in the
>>two feedings of the crowds, but provided an explanation in terms of
>>symbolical references, whereas the issue is really one of mathematics.
>>This is apparent from Jesus' words as rendered by Mark (8:17-21):
>>"Why are you discussing about not having any bread? Don't you know or
>>understand yet? Are your minds so dull? You have eyes--can't you see?
>>You have ears--can't you hear? Don't you remember when I broke the five
>>loaves for the five thousand? How many baskets full of pieces did you
>>pick up?"
>>"Twelve," they answered.
>>"And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand," asked Jesus,
>>"how many baskets full of pieces did you pick up?"
>>"Seven," they answered.
>>"And you still don't understand?" he asked them.

Hi you foot tentatively out into the water here...

Following are a few lines from a book called 'With Jesus through Galilee
according to the fifth gospel' by Fr Bargil Pixner, a Benedictine Monk who
is also an archaeologist and who lives in Israel, which I thought
interesting on this subject.

He's talking about the two feedings of the multitudes:

'Everyone had enough to eat and seven handled baskets ('spyris') full were
collected, baskets which the people had brought with them. Although there is
a clear distinction made between the kind of baskets used in the first
feeding and in the second, hardly any translation pays attention to it. The
'kophinoy' of the first feeding are large baskets, the 'spyridas' of the
second feeding refer to panniers with handles as we find them in the floor
mosaics of Kursai. In recalling the feedings Mark (8:19-20) uses the two
distinctive terms on purpose. As the number twelve in the first feeding
pointed to the twelve tribes of Israel, so now the number seven was to
indicate the seven heathen peoples (Deut 7:1b ... the Hittites, Girgashites,
Amoraites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Acts 13:191),
who had once inhabited the land (Galilee) but after its conquest had
gradually disappeared or been driven out.'

Over to you.

Happy new year to you all. 

Best wishes,

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