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Mark 6:38-44

Context
6:38 He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five – and two fish.” 6:39 Then he directed them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 6:40 So they reclined in groups of hundreds and fifties. 6:41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. He 1  gave them to his 2  disciples to serve the people, and he divided the two fish among them all. 6:42 They all ate and were satisfied, 6:43 and they picked up the broken pieces and fish that were left over, twelve baskets full. 6:44 Now 3  there were five thousand men 4  who ate the bread. 5 

1 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

2 tc ‡ Most mss (Ì45 A D W Θ Ë1,13 Ï lat sy) have αὐτοῦ (autou, “his”) after τοῖς μαθηταῖς (toi" maqhtai", “the disciples”), but several excellent witnesses (א B L Δ 33 579 892 1241 1424 2427 pc) lack the pronoun. This kind of variant is often a predictable expansion of the text; further, that many important mss lack the pronoun gives support for the shorter reading. For these reasons, the pronoun is considered to be secondary. NA27 puts αὐτοῦ in brackets, indicating some doubts as to its authenticity.

tn Grk “the disciples”; the Greek article has been translated here as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215).

3 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate a somewhat parenthetical remark by the author.

4 tn The Greek word here is ἀνήρ, meaning “adult male” (BDAG 79 s.v. 1). According to Matt 14:21, Jesus fed not only five thousand men, but also an unspecified number of women and children.

5 tc Many good mss (Ì45 א D W Θ Ë1,13 28 565 700 2542 lat sa) lack τοὺς ἄρτους (tous artous, lit. “the loaves” [here translated “the bread”]). On the other hand, just as weighty mss (A B L 33 2427 Ï) have the words. Although a decision is not easy, the most satisfactory explanation seems to be that scribes were more prone to delete than to add the words here. They may have been puzzled as to why “the bread” should be mentioned without a corresponding mention of “fish.” Since neither Matt 14:21 or Luke 9:17 explicitly mention the bread, a desire for harmonization may have motivated the copyists as well. On the other hand, D and W are prone to longer, explanatory readings. Since they both lack the words here, it is likely that their archetypes also lacked the words. But given Mark’s pleonastic style, the good witnesses with “the bread,” and a reasonable explanation for the omission, “the bread” is most likely part of the original text of Mark.



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