Translation commentary on Luke 9:17


kai ephagon kai echortasthēsan pantes ‘and they ate and were all satisfied.’ pantes may be the subject of both verbs (cf. Revised Standard Version), or go with echortasthēsan only. The latter is preferable, and pantes serves to emphasize the climax already expressed in that verb: they ate (and not only that) they even were satisfied, all of them. For chortazō cf. on 6.21.

kai ērthē to perisseusan autois klasmatōn kophinoi dōdeka ‘and what they left was picked up (by the disciples, presumably), twelve baskets of pieces.’ klasmatōn may go with to perisseusan, or with kophinoi dōdeka, preferably the latter, and klasmatōn kophinoi dōdeka is best understood as an apposition to to perisseusan autois.

perisseuō ‘to be abundant,’ ‘to be more than enough,’ hence ‘to be left over.’ The agent, i.e. the person who leaves, follows in the dative (cf. Jn. 6.13), here autois referring to all the people who were present.

klasma ‘piece,’ i.e. the result of breaking (klaō).

kophinos ‘basket.’


All ate and were satisfied, preferably, “they ate and were all of them satisfied” (The Four Gospels – a New Translation), or slightly more emphatic, ‘they ate, and (or, so that) they were satisfied, everyone of them.’ For to be satisfied, or, ‘to get enough,’ cf. on 6.21, and ‘to-the-very-fullest’ (Auca, in Mk. 6.42).

They took up. Tae’ has ‘they gathered-in,’ suggesting a plurality as object.

What was left over, or, ‘what they (i.e. those who ate) left over, or, did not eat’; or, in one word, ‘its rest/remains’ (several Indonesian languages).

Twelve baskets of broken pieces, or, ‘(this was) as much as twelve baskets….’ Some versions simply have, ‘twelve baskets full its total’ (e.g. Balinese), in order to avoid a cumbersome or intricate phrase; this is defensible, if it is clear that the reference is to the food that had been handed around after having been broken. Broken pieces, if translated, can sometimes be expressed by a resultative derivation of the verb used in v. 16; Sranan Tongo, using a more generic term, has to specify it: ‘pieces of bread.’

Quoted with permission from Reiling, J. and Swellengrebel, J.L. A Handbook on the Gospel of Luke. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1971. For this and other handbooks for translators see here . Make sure to also consult the Handbook on the Gospel of Mark for parallel or similar verses.

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