Re: Marcan Leitmotifs

Date: Wed Jun 17 1998 - 17:29:29 EDT


Carl Conrad's response to the posts by Carlton Winbery and myself on
Mark's use of "the Way" and analogous themes raised a question about
Mark's use of ARTOS, and ARTON FAGEIN. The answer is, Yes, it has been
noticed (at least by me), written up initially in 1958 in my _Gospel of Mark
and the Exodus_ (long out of print, like almost everything of mine), but
developed further in later years but not hitherto pulished except for
consumption by my graduate students. I used to distribute mini-concordances
of various Greek words in Mark (including ARTOS and ESQI-/FAG-), and then
go through the text following the words one at a time. Most were amazed at
how Mark seems obsessed with EATING.

        (I recall an article many years ago in the "New Yorker" entitled
"What's Eating Walter Kerr?" This writer had noticed that for a period of
perhaps a year, his reviews of plays on Broadway had become filled with
food and eating metaphors-- "a delicious morsel," "a toothsome frolic,"
"a dessert for the drama-famished," "a meat-and-potatoes romantic comedy,"
and the like. The conclusion was that Kerr must have gone on a diet, and was
reviewing plays in a state of semi-hunger!)

I know of no study suggesting that ARTON ESQIEIN is any sort of idiom; I'm
sure it is because Mark is extremely concerned with the subject of eating
bread -- the bread of the angels (Psa. 78:25), manna made of the grain of
heaven (Psa. 78:24), the bread which was fed to Jesus in the wilderness of
testing (PEIRASMOS), the bread which was again distributed in the wilderness
by Jesus, TWICE as Carl points out (with 12 baskets of crumbs for
Jews-to-come, 7 baskets of crumbs for Gentiles-to-come, one of whom has
already put in her bid for some in ch. 7), and which is climactically
broken and distributed at the final Passover in Jerusalem. When Jesus says
that this loaf is his body, Mark is making the same point that John makes,
when his Jesus claims to be the true bread come down from heaven. The bread
which comes down from heaven is manna, the bread of heaven, which God feeds
to his people--though, alas! they put him to the test, with hardened hearts.
The Twelve in Mark look awfully fmailiar, don't they?

Thanks to Carl for tossing the ball to me!

Edward Hobbs
Wellesley College


Here is a catalog of Mark's use of ESQI-/FAG and ARTOS:

(Note the problem in translating many of these passages, stemming from the
fact that in English "bread" is a mass-noun, whereas Greek ARTOS is a count-
noun; hence bread is always "a loaf of bread" in Greek, while in English we
must add "a loaf of" in front of "bread" to effect a count-noun.)

                 EATING (and NOT EATING) and BREAD in Mark

1:6 John ATE locusts and wild honey.
1:13 The angels WERE SERVING [food/manna] to him [Jesus].
1:31 She [Simon's mother-in-law] SERVED/WAS SERVING [food] to them.
2:16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he IS/[was] EATING
          with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples,
          Why IS he EATING with tax collectors and sinners?
2:18 John's disciples and the Pharisees WERE FASTING...
          Why do [they] FAST, but your disciples do NOT FAST?
2:19 Wedding guests can't FAST while the bridegroom is with them...
          they cannot FAST.
2:20 ... they will FAST on that day.
2:25 ... David was hungry
          which only the priests may legally EAT
3:20 ... they could not even EAT BREAD.
[4:3-20] [Sowing seed and the abundant crop]
[4:26-29] [Seed growing secretly]
5:43 [Jesus] told them to give her something to EAT.
6:8 [Jesus] charged them to take ... no BREAD
6:31 They had no leisure even to EAT.
6:36 Send them away to ... buy themselves something to EAT.
6:37 You give them something to EAT.
          Shall we buy 200 denarii worth of LOAVES-OF-BREAD
          and give it to them to EAT?
6:38 How many LOAVES-OF-BREAD have you?
          Five [loaves-of-bread], and two fish
6:41 Taking the five LOAVES-OF-BREAD and the two fish ...
          [Jesus] blessed [God] and broke the LOAVES-OF-BREAD
          and gave them ...
6:42 They all ATE
6:43 They took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces [of bread]
6:44 Those who HAD EATEN the LOAVES-OF-BREAD were 5,000 men.
6:52 They did not understand about the LOAVES-OF-BREAD, but
          their hearts were hardened.
7:2 When they saw some of his disciples EATING THE LOAVES-OF-BREAD
          with unwashed hands
7:5 Why do your disciples ... EAT BREAD with unwashed hands?
7:27 Let the children first be FED, for it is not proper to ...
          throw the children's LOAF-OF-BREAD to the dogs.
7:28 Even the dogs under the table EAT the children's CRUMBS.
8:1 [The crowd] had nothing to EAT
8:2 They have nothing to EAT
8:3 If I send them away HUNGRY
8:4 How can one FEED these people with LOAVES-OF-BREAD
          here in the desert?
8:5 How many LOAVES-OF-BREAD do you have?
8:6 When [Jesus] had taken the seven LOAVES-OF-BREAD ... and
          given thanks, he broke them and gave them...
8:8 They ATE; and they took up the broken pieces left over,
          seven baskets full; there were about 4,000 people.
8:14 They had forgotten to bring LOAVES-OF-BREAD; and they had
          only ONE LOAF-OF-BREAD with them in the boat.
8:16 We have no LOAVES-OF-BREAD.
8:17 Why are you discussing not having any LOAVES-OF-BREAD?
8:19 When I broke the five LOAVES-OF-BREAD for the 5,000,
          how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?
8:20 And the seven [loaves-of-bread] for the 4,000, how many
          baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?
11:14 May no one ever EAT fruit from you again!
14:12 ... and prepare for you to EAT the Passover?
14:14 ... where I may EAT the Passover with my disciples?
14:18 And while they were EATING, Jesus said ...
14:22 As they were EATING, having taken a LOAF-OF-BREAD and
          blessed [God], he broke and gave it to them, and said,
          Take: this is my body.

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