Translation commentary on Mark 8:8 – 8:9


In v. 9 after ēsan de ‘and there were’ Textus Receptus adds hoi phagontes ‘those who ate,’ which is omitted by all modern editions of the Greek text.
Verse Division:

Revised Standard Version ends v. 9 at tetrakischilioi ‘four thousand’; in most modern additions of the Greek text, and translations, the verse includes, however, also the next sentence kai apelusen autous ‘and he sent them away.’ These notes will follow the Revised Standard Version division of verses.


echortasthēsan (cf. 6.42) ‘they were filled.’

perisseumata klasmatōn ‘excesses of fragments,’ ‘remaining pieces’: as in 6.43 those are pieces of bread left over, uneaten, from the abundance available to the crowd.

perisseuma (only here in Mark) ‘that which abounds,’ ‘which is in excess’: therefore, ‘remaining,’ ‘left over.’

klasma (cf. 6.43) ‘piece,’ ‘broken piece.’

hepta spuridas ‘seven baskets’: these two words are in apposition to perisseumata klasmatōn ‘remaining pieces.’

spuris (or sphuris; 8.20) ‘basket,’ ‘hamper (for provisions)’: wherein it differed from kophinos ‘basket’ cf. 6.43.


Satisfied may be translated as ‘they had all they wanted.’

Seven baskets full is in an awkward syntactic relationship to what precedes. It is probably better to treat this as ‘took up seven baskets full of broken pieces which were left over’ or ‘they took up the broken pieces that were left over; there were seven baskets full of these pieces.’ In other words, the final phrase may be incorporated completely within the preceding clause or it may be expanded in to the form of a complete paratactic sentence.

For details of problems involving the manner in which the pieces were taken up and the nature of the baskets, see 6.43.

Note that whereas 6.44 specifically states ‘five thousand men,’ this passage speaks of ‘four thousand persons.’ Even though the Greek numeral has a masculine declensional ending, this does not mean that only males are to be considered. They are presumably people of all types: men, women, and children.

Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on the Gospel of Mark. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1961. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .

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