Mark 8:7

They had also a few small fish; and, after he had said the blessing, he told the disciples to serve out these as well.

the hidden will show
not easily but will

greed can hold accusations
of theft at bay for generations

eventually traces and causes
are noted understood reordered

in a small pond seven small fish
surface to make a difference

such details tell a story
blessing flows chastisement slows

a blessing begun anywhere
warms reluctant generosity

It is never easy to determine an intent of an author. There are times even they aren’t aware of what they are doing. The separation of fish from bread in this telling of a feeding story raises a question of what that may be about.

The first feeding story began with bread and fish; this story has the “little” fish as an afterthought; the last meal will have no fish and be the model for Eucharists or Communions to come with their bread and wine.

The question is whether Mark is using the belated appearance of fish to signal a change that is going on in the practice of the early church as it segues from its Jewish roots to a Gentile orientation or if it is just a stylistic happenstance.

The source of this question comes from Phillips in Levine167

Crossan has suggested [Historical Jesus, pp. 367, 398-404] that, before eucharists of bread and wine developed in Hellenistic house-churches, there has been outdoor meals of bread and fish shared among peasants, going back before Calvary. Fish are fine for Aramaic-speaking peasants, but they cannot be used in Greek sacrifices.

The question regarding Mark’s understanding of the shift of the ingredients of these formal, Jesus-led, meals is not something that can ever have a definitive response. What can be approached is a reader’s attentiveness to the sweep of the story they are encountering and their willingness to know that their reading is also a rewriting of what they have read according to the matrix of their experience base which affects the range of options available to them.

A misplaced fish was a strange place to encounter linguistic theory. May it help us not only fish for people, but for ourselves.

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