The First Commentary on Mark: An Annotated Translation

By Michael Cahill | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8

By means of the eleventh miracle seven loaves of bread are broken for 4,000 hungry people (cf. Mark 8:5); a few little fish are blessed; and seven basketfuls of scraps are collected. The seven loaves stand for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The 4,000 represents the New Testament year with its four seasons; the seven baskets are the first seven churches. The scraps of bread, understood mystically, represent the first week.1 The little blessed fish are the books of the New Testament, since the risen Lord demands a piece of roast fish.2 He also offers fish placed on burning coals to the disciples on the occasion of the catch of fish.3

____________________
1
Cf. Gen 1:1-2:4.
2
Cf. Luke 24:41-42.
3
Cf. John 21:9. The earlier feeding of the multitude ( Mark 6:3 2-44) was only briefly noted. This one is allegorized in detail. In the homily (appendix), the scraps collected in the seven baskets are understood as the words of the Spirit, while the baskets are the seven churches. The four in the 4,000 is taken as the four seasons. One scholar has suggested that liturgical seasons are meant, presumably Advent, Lent, Eastertide, and Ordinary Time ( G. Morin, "Un commentaire romain," p. 359). The seven churches are the seven churches to get letters from Paul or possibly the seven churches of the book of Revelation. The first week is the week of creation in Gen I. An unusual feature occurs when the author explains the basis of his interpretation of the fish by pointing to the association of the risen Lord with fish (cf. Luke 24:34-35; cf. John 21:9).

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