complete verse (Mark 6:40)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 6:40:

  • Uma: “They sat in groups, every groups was about a hundred, there were also some that were around fifty.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Therefore they sat down in groups, some in groups of one hundred each and some in groups of fifty each.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And then they sat down, and there were a hundred or fifty people in each group.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “And they sat-down in-multiple-groups, some by-hundreds and (some) by-fifties.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Their seating was by hundreds and by fifty people.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Mark 6:40


anepesan prasiai prasiai ‘they reclined in ranks.’

anapiptō (8.6) ‘lie down,’ ‘recline’ to eat.

prasia (only here in the N.T.) meant originally ‘a garden plot’; when used as here it means ‘in orderly groups,’ ‘in rows,’ ‘in ranks’ (cf. Moulton & Milligan). The element of order is stressed in the use of the word: the multitude formed orderly rows which could be easily and quickly served by the disciples.

kata hekaton kai kata pentēkonta ‘by the hundreds and by the fifties’: so most translations and commentaries. Manson, however, has ‘a hundred rows of fifty each’ (“a great rectangle, a hundred by fifty …: ‘one side of the rectangle was reckoned at a hundred, and the other at fifty.’”): this, however, has not commended itself to many (cf. Lagrange “bien mathématique!”).


In groups, by hundreds and by fifties is a very compact phrase, and one which must in certain languages be somewhat expanded, e.g. ‘different groups; some groups had one hundred people and other groups had fifty people’ (Southern Subanen); Toraja-Sa’dan expresses it ‘in groups there were hundreds, there were fifties.’

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 .