Loaves and Fishes

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Robert Tulip
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Loaves and Fishes

Post by Robert Tulip » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:31 am

Commentary on Gospel Texts on Loaves and Fishes

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.

Mark 6:30-44
30. The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught.
• 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.
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.
• 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/6-33.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.
• 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.

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.
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.
• 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.

• 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.
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."
• 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.
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?"
• 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.
38 He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go see." When they knew, they said, "Five, and two fish."
• 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.

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Loaves and Fishes

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Mar 20, 2014 9:12 am

Robert Tulip wrote: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.
Robert, if I understand you correctly here, you seem to be suggesting that the story in Mark is influenced by observations of the sky by people who lived near the equator. Is that correct?
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

Robert Tulip
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Re: Loaves and Fishes

Post by Robert Tulip » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:01 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:you seem to be suggesting that the story in Mark is influenced by observations of the sky by people who lived near the equator. Is that correct?
No, not at all. That is most unlikely. Counting the stars of the sky is a complex thing, since your mileage may vary depending on your eyesight, viewing conditions and latitude.

I recently enquired of astronomer friends about how many stars are visible. The widely used catalogue of visible stars contains 9100 stars visible from the equator, descending to about 4500 stars visible at the poles. But seeing the fainter half of these stars requires exceptional eyesight, since there are only 5500 stars brighter than magnitude 6. The ancient classification system from Hipparchus included stars of 6 magnitude, those classed as just visible. As a benchmark, the planet Uranus is magnitude 5.6-5.9, and requires keen eyes and clear dark sky to see it.

So to clarify, my general point was that nearer the equator, for example in the southern latitudes of Egypt, observers can see more stars, and that the two numbers used for the multitude in the miracles of the loaves and fishes, 4000 and 5000 men, are good estimates of the number of visible stars, an allegory that coheres with the intent of the story.

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neilgodfrey
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Re: Loaves and Fishes

Post by neilgodfrey » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:45 pm

Robert, this is interesting and I appreciate your taking the time to present it. Can you assure, however, that this is only the start and that you do intend to post again with an explanation of the remainder of the explanation.

Meanwhile, I have some initial questions -- I'll hold off the main ones till you complete the series.

Are you saying the stars represent the people on earth whom God cares for and sustains with his goodness, and that divisions of stars into constellations represents the cities or villages in which people live? If so, why did Jesus not go to their cities and how are gnostic readers to imagine the people of those village leaving them and moving to the wilderness?

You appear to say that the content of the gnostic knowledge, a word of some technical significance given its apparent awkwardness in the passage, is that there are 5 planets and a sun (who is both Jesus himself in the story and as well as a fish) and a moon (that is also a fish). In what sense is this knowledge special gnostic knowledge? My understanding is that ancients knew about 5 planets and the sun and moon as surely as they knew about the existence of birds and animals. Why is this "gnostic knowledge" in this context?

Coincidentally I have recently posted an explanation of the difference between parallels and parallelomania on my blog. In your next installment you might also like to make clear how your parallels do indeed conform to parallels and not parallelomania.

Thanks
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MrMacSon
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Re: Loaves and Fishes

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Mar 20, 2014 5:55 pm

Robert Tulip wrote:Commentary on Gospel Texts on Loaves and Fishes

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 remember reading something years ago about it being allegory about charity: getting a wider community to find resources - food - for those in need.

Of course, this, or similar attempts at explanation, is/are speculative.

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neilgodfrey
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Re: Loaves and Fishes

Post by neilgodfrey » Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:43 pm

MrMacSon wrote: I remember reading something years ago about it being allegory about charity: getting a wider community to find resources - food - for those in need.

Of course, this, or similar attempts at explanation, is/are speculative.
There's no reason for preachers not to draw this lesson from the miracle, but the reason such an explanation falls short is that it fails to account for the many odd and unnatural details of the event, and for why these details are changed for its second telling, and what was its point in relation to the similar miracle by Elisha. A reason that can account for all of these has to win over one that is as generalized as saying it's a lesson to inspire charity.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Loaves and Fishes

Post by MrMacSon » Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:04 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
it fails to account for
  • the many odd and unnatural details of the event,
  • why these details are changed for its second telling, and
  • what was its point in relation to the similar miracle by Elisha.
A reason that can account for all of these has to win over one that is as generalized as saying it's a lesson to inspire charity.
Good points. Cheers Neil.

Robert Tulip
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Re: Loaves and Fishes

Post by Robert Tulip » Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:17 pm

22 March 2014
Mark 6:39 He commanded them that everyone should sit down in groups on the green grass.
The green grass is an evocative image. Somehow I have always imagined this miracle story as occurring on a rocky dusty lake shore, but here we find this image of green fertility, pleasance, abundance, simplicity, peace, order and beauty.

The green grass evokes the line from Peter and Isaiah used by Brahms in his Requiem, behold all flesh is as the grass, with grass a symbol of temporal mortality, hinting toward the cosmic relation between time and eternity.
40 They sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties.
With the men sitting in groups considered in this story as meaning stars, we can readily see the grouping as meaning constellations.
41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves, and he gave to his disciples to set before them, and he divided the two fish among them all.
The central event of the miracle is the creation of universal abundance by faith and vision from a small source.

The phrase “looking up to heaven” is a strong indication of the astral meaning of the story. Due to the influence of church teaching we are accustomed to thinking of heaven as a place where good people go after death. But Jesus here uses the concept of heaven as something that can be seen by looking up, ie the sky. This old meaning remains in our concept of 'the heavens', and in the German use of Himmel for heaven and sky.

So what did Christ see when he looked up to heaven? The astronomical fact is that the shift of ages marked by the position of the sun at the equinoxes moved into star groups conventionally associated with loaves and fishes at precisely the time of Pilate, 21 AD, and this event had been known and anticipated by ancient astronomers for at least a century, and probably in Babylon for many hundreds of years.

The March spring equinox, used by the Jewish calendar to mark the beginning of the year and the timing of the great annual festival of Passover, had occurred with the sun in Aries the Ram since before the time of Moses. But in 21 AD, this annual event shifted into Pisces the Fishes, while the opposite equinox in September shifted from Libra into Virgo the Virgin, whose main star Spica is named after the spike of wheat used to make loaves of bread. So the cosmic axis of the year marked by spring and autumn was understood by ancient astronomers to have shifted at this time into the signs of the loaves and fishes.

This moment of shift of the heavens was in fact a moment of perceived celestial harmony between earth and heaven, as the only time in history when the signs and the seasons have been in perfect alignment. So this perceived connection provides fertile source for the idea that Jesus Christ is the terrestrial incarnation of the eternal God of the universe, bringing the order of the heavens into manifest planetary presence.

The symbolism of the creation of universal abundance from two fish and five loaves is that by understanding our real relation to nature, we can overcome the alienation produced in human psychology and culture by the fall from grace. I interpret the fall as the rise of metal technology, an indicator that our material progress has come without the required social and intellectual progress, and so creates the risk of destruction, requiring a new covenant to restore our state of grace. This reading of the fall aligns with the Enochite Gnostic Watcher Nazirite tradition that Mark 6 has already alluded to with the beheading of John the Baptist, an event which illustrates the oppressive context for Gnosis.

This miracle of the loaves and fishes asserts that if we can re-establish a connection between earth and heaven, we can find miraculous creativity, like the use of faith to move mountains. Without a real understanding of nature we are lost and falling into destruction, but with knowledge we are saved by grace. This idea presents a practical scientific foundation for the reformation of Christianity today on a natural rational basis.

As I have noted already, the numbers five and two for the loaves and fishes key directly into popular ancient knowledge of visual astronomy, representing the five visible planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn and the two great lights the Sun and Moon. When Jesus gives the five loaves to the twelve disciples to distribute among the 5000 men, it represents how astronomer priests since time immemorial had watched the regular orderly movement of the planets among the stars to understand the structure of time and the mathematical pattern of the mind of God revealed in the cosmos.
Brahms Requiem wrote:http://www.grandmar-ak.com/virtual-memo ... em-lyrics/
Behold, all flesh is as the grass, And all the goodliness of man is as the flower of grass; For lo, the grass with’reth, and the flower there-of decayeth. Now, therefore, be patient, O my brethren, unto the coming of Christ. See how the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit, the fruit of the earth, And hath long patience for it, until he receive the early rain and the latter rain. So be ye patient. Behold all flesh is as the grass, and all the goodliness of man is as the flower of grass; For lo, the grass with’reth, and the flower there-of decayeth. But yet the Lord’s word endureth, endureth forever-more. The redeem-ed of the Lord shall return again, and come rejoicing unto Zion. Gladness, gladness, gladness, joy everlasting; Joy upon their heads shall be; Joy and gladness, these shall be their portion, and tears and sighing shall flee from them. The redeem-ed of the Lord shall return again, and come rejoicing unto Zion. Gladness, gladness, gladness, joy upon their heads shall be, joy everlasting. Joy everlasting.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph8lM4Fqj3E

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DCHindley
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Re: Loaves and Fishes

Post by DCHindley » Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:43 pm

This is about as sophisticated as this little ditty in the parables of Enoch:
(OTP 1EN 43:1) OTP 1 Enoch 43:1 And I saw other lightnings and the stars of heaven, and I saw how He called them all by their names and they hearkened unto Him.
2 And I saw how they are weighed in a righteous balance according to their proportions of light: (I saw) the width of their spaces and the day of their appearing, and how their revolution produces lightning: and (I saw) their revolution according to the number of the angels, and (how) they keep faith with each other.
3 And I asked the angel who went with me who showed me what was hidden: 'What are these?'
4 And he said to me: 'The Lord of Spirits hath showed thee their parabolic meaning (lit. 'their parable'): these are the names of the holy who dwell on the earth and believe in the name of the Lord of Spirits for ever and ever.'

OTP 1 Enoch 44:1 Also another phenomenon I saw in regard to the lightnings: how some of the stars arise and become lightnings and cannot part with their new form.
I am sure there must be a deeeeep astrotheological meaning behind this. I shiver to think of it! :goodmorning:

DCH

Robert Tulip
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Re: Loaves and Fishes

Post by Robert Tulip » Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:27 pm

DCHindley wrote: little ditty in the parables of Enoch
I don't think Enoch is usually referred to as writing ditties, except perhaps by people who have some dismissive agenda. My comments on Enoch are at viewtopic.php?p=3043#p3043

The relevance here is that the loaves and fishes keys into a Gnostic tradition in which cosmic texts such as the one you have cited from Enoch are important.

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