Simplarities Between the Feedings Reported by Matthew and Mark

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All Gospels record the feeding of the 5000; the authors of Matthew and Mark record two feedings. A doublet or two separate events? The context of the narratives, similarities and differences, whether one event or two, historical or myth and the significance for each writer will be discussed. In the Synoptic gospels the event follows the death of John the Baptist and the return of the disciples from preaching and teaching. Mark6:39 writes, ‘the people sat on the green grass,’ suggesting spring-time, possibly April. John does not mention either event; John6:4, ‘the Passover was near.’ Passover, an important C1st Jewish feast, although not a family meal it involved going to the Temple and offering sacrifices. Therefore, the…show more content…
The disciples misunderstand the meaning both times. We might have expected the Disciples to have learnt something after the first miracle; it appears they did not. After the first, Jesus crosses the sea to Bethsaida: after the second, to Dalmanutha, and later goes to Bethsaida.
Mark places the feeding of the 4000 in “the midst of the borders of Decapolis” (Mark7:31). Commentators have hypothesised over the significance of the location suggesting that Jesus went into the predominantly Gentile area of Decapolis to extend His ministry among the Gentiles. Matthew is not so specific. He mentions Magadan, a location now unknown, writing that Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, went up the mountain, followed by crowds. Matthew seems to assimilate the feedings together. He emphasises the similarities, using the miracle as an example of Jesus acting compassionately for Israel whilst in conflict with their leaders. Perhaps Mark recorded the event twice, changing certain details, to emphasise that Jesus’ ministry was to Jews and Gentiles alike; perhaps his sources suggested two separate accounts. Modern scholarship would seem to favour the doublet theory.
The feeding of the 5000 has similarities and differences; all have this basic outline.

A boat is involved; a remote, lonely place; crowds of people; late evening; the disciples told by Jesus to go into the villages

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