complete verse (Mark 8:9)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 8:9:

  • Uma: “They ate until they were full. The number who ate at that time [was] about four thousand. After they ate, they gathered the leftovers, still seven baskets full. After that, Yesus ordered them to return to their houses,” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “There were more or less four thousand people who had eaten.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “The number of the people who became satisfied there were four thousand people.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “The number of those-who-ate was about (lit. goes to) four thousand.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “As for the number of those who ate, there were about four thousand. And then Jesus sent those people on their way.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

large numbers in Angguruk Yali

Many languages use a “body part tally system” where body parts function as numerals (see body part tally systems with a description). One such language is Angguruk Yali which uses a system that ends at the number 27. To circumvent this limitation, the Angguruk Yali translators adopted a strategy where a large number is first indicated with an approximation via the traditional system, followed by the exact number according to Arabic numerals. For example, where in 2 Samuel 6:1 it says “thirty thousand” in the English translation, the Angguruk Yali says teng-teng angge 30.000 or “so many rounds [following the body part tally system] 30,000,” likewise, in Acts 27:37 where the number “two hundred seventy-six” is used, the Angguruk Yali translation says teng-teng angge 276 or “so many rounds 276,” or in John 6:10 teng-teng angge 5.000 for “five thousand.”

This strategy is used in all the verses referenced here.

Source: Lourens de Vries in The Bible Translator 1998, p. 409ff.

See also numbers in Ngalum and numbers in Kombai.

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 .