Collating the text on the loaves and fishes from all four gospels there are about 2000 words, nearly 100 verses. The feeding of the multitude is the most prominent miracle in the Bible, appearing six times compared to three for the resurrection, but it is deeply mysterious. It is literally impossible, so its origins deserve careful analysis. Ruling out magic, the contesting hypotheses for the core meaning focus on Jesus as antitype for Moses or as cosmic allegory.
I am happy to discuss what this miracle may really mean, even though I find the tone and level of knowledge of some posters here surprising. In response to Neil Godfrey’s request, I will go through all these verses in order, to explore their apparent most likely meaning. I have noticed that some commenters seem often to ignore what I say, and even to claim I said things I did not say, but that is okay, as we can all read the discussion as it stands and readers can make up their own minds. Even so, I generally prefer that people quote me accurately rather than inaccurately.
As an aside, at least some here have the decency and honesty to post under their real names, which I think should be a rule for this website to increase the level of courtesy and accountability. I do not understand the ethics of anonymous commentary on scholarly matters. If you are scared about people knowing what you think then don’t say it. You won’t be crucified.
• This ‘all they had done’ motif references the verse Mark 6:7 ‘He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out’. The implication that Christ is omniscient is similar to both his conversation with the woman at the well who told Christ about her six husbands (like the 6000 years of the fall) and the sun in the Sermon on the Mount at Matthew 5:45 that shines equally on the just and unjust. So too the twelve months of the year represent all things under the sun, against the cosmic framework of Christ as the solar year and the apostles as the twelve lunar months surrounding the central source of light and life. The months may be considered separately as each having a different nature, but here the twelve come together and appear as eternally united as varying reflections of the same sun.30. The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught.
• Christ calls the twelve away from the bustle of the world to find spiritual food. The business of the world prevents enlightenment, which requires isolation and meditation. The wilderness motif also indicates the Exodus theme of escape from worldiness to see God. I interpret the apostles and Christ in the boat against the Argonauts and other cognate myths, but that is a complex topic to come back to later.http://biblehub.com/mark/6-31.htm 31 He said to them, "You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile." For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 They went away in the boat to a desert place by themselves.
• Firstly, it is rather strange that the multitude can recognise Christ despite being located in ‘all the cities’. This is a first impossibility in this myth, since people in numerous cities cannot all see one person as indicated here. But Mark passes over that difficulty with sublime indifference. It indicates that Christ is allegory for something that can be seen from many different places at once, perhaps something that shines equally on the just and the unjust.http://biblehub.com/mark/6-33.htm 33 They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him.
Considering Christ as allegory for the sun, and the apostles as allegories for the twelve months of the moon, the multitude appears analogous to the stars of the night sky, with the cities analogous for the constellations. The stellar motif is clearly present in the Holy City of the apocalypse, although lightly hidden in deference to moronic sensibilities. There are in fact about 5000 stars visible from the equator, and 4000 visible from temperate latitudes, so this analogy is plausible for both versions of the number of men participating in the miracle.
• As the sun appears to travel through the multitude of stars each year, its position in each group of stars has a distinct meaning, relevant to the time of year. This traditional view is depicted in the stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral, with the occupations for each month. So the sun gives meaning to the random shapes of the stars through its regular annual procession through them. As we shall see, a deeper eternal meaning of this order is seen, and was perceived by the ancients, in the equally regular slow precession of the sun through the stars, one degree back per human lifetime.34Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
• The shepherd motif echoes King David and the Psalms. In terms of precession, the spring point was in the sign of the ram for two thousand years until the time of Christ, when it moved into the sign of the fish. So the ‘without a shepherd’ idea matches to the stellar disorientation occurring at the time of Christ, well known to the ancients. Philo said Passover occurred when the sun was in the sign of the ram. This had been visibly seen to no longer apply since the blood moon of 23 March 4BC at Passover in Jerusalem, a lunar eclipse that was physically at the foot of the woman (Virgo), directly opposite the sun in Pisces. This event is a possible source for the great wonder seen in heaven described in Revelation 12:1, and for Paul’s motif in Galatians ‘born of a woman’. We can again see this great wonder with the blood moon in the same spot in the sky on 15 April this year.
• Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 say a thousand years is as a day for God. Theology has used this framework to construct a 7000 year theory of time from Eden to Apocalypse linked to the seven days of creation in Genesis and the vision of the millennium in Revelation. So the ‘late in the day’ timing for the loaves and fishes miracle illustrates that it occurs at a time of shift between ages. The twelve make the practical/allegorical suggestion that dispersal of the men/stars is the only way for them to obtain food/enlightenment.35 When it was late in the day, his disciples came to him, and said, "This place is deserted, and it is late in the day. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat."
• Allegorically, the sun/Christ structures the months/apostles against the perennial identity of the star patterns/the multitude, marking the annual cycle of the seasons.37 But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." They asked him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give them something to eat?"
• Gnostic ideas are clearly present here. ‘Go see’ is an Enochite reference to the old tradition of the cosmic seers, the watchers who formed the Nazirite Gnostic tradition through Samson to John the Baptist who has just been beheaded (in preference to Salome turning down the offer of half a kingdom) in this chapter. “When they knew” is a very unusual turn of phrase for Mark to use in this spot. It is a rather clunky way to insert the Gnostic theme of knowledge. And the knowledge matches precisely to our cosmic vision of the structure of reality available to the naked eye since time immemorial, with the five visible planets and the two great lights of the sun and moon.38 He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go see." When they knew, they said, "Five, and two fish."