Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Jesus And The Starving Five Thousand

One of the manuscripts found in a cave.
Other than the resurrection the only 'miracle' listed in all four of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) is the one known as 'the feeding of the five thousand'. John recounts the event as such:

"When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.  Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world." (John 6:5-14, KJV)

This is a miracle? Not entirely sure why it was ever listed as a miracle. You want to see some miracle feeding, then head back to World War II when rationing was in effect; women fed their entire families on less. They would dream of having five loaves and two fish.

As is usual with Biblical stories there is very little recorded about the details; for example there is no mention what size the loaves of bread were. Also it does not bother to mention the fish. So, we have to go with measures from the same time period and use them as a guide.

The bread. Nothing came up with regards to the size of a loaf of bread in Biblical times. Not a thing. The only useful thing that came up was that bread has been around since 8,000 BCE. But nothing about how much the bread would have weighed. At present there are two bread standards - 400 grams for a small loaf and 800 grams for a large loaf. With nothing to go on I am just going to go with 600 grams for a medium loaf.

The fish. All that is said about the fish is that they are small. But in the preceding verses it says: "After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea  of Tiberias." (John 6:1, KJV). This means we can look at what sort of fish were in the area. There are believed to be somewhere between 18 to 24 different species of fish in the Sea of Galilee. However the fish that it is believed to have been is the sardine; which is found in the Sea of Galilee. The sardine can be anywhere from 80 grams up to 300 grams. But it is said the fish were small, so based on that I will just use the average weight of a sardine; which is 150 grams.

There we have it. We have five loaves weighing 600 grams each; giving a total of 3,000 grams (3 kilogrammes). We have two fish weighing 150 grams each;giving a total of 300 grams (0.3 kilogrammes). All that needs to be done now is divide it among the 5,000.

But wait. It is not that simple. It is 5,013. It says there were 5,000 men. Then there is Jesus and the 12 disciples. So that is the figure.

I know an extra 13 doesn't make a big difference but it does say: "So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would." (John 6:10-12, KJV) If it is important enough for the Bible to mention the figure of 5,000 and then mention Jesus and the disciples; I might as well follow that lead.

That would mean that everyone got 0.598 grams of bread and 0.0598 grams of fish to eat. So approximately about 0.6 grams of food per person.

This is not a miracle it is an impossibility. On the side of a mountain Jesus' disciples managed to weigh out 0.6 grams per person; all around the time of 30 AD. The only possible miracle here is that someone had travelled in time to the future to pick up a set of digital scales to weigh this food out.

And we are meant to believe there was 12 baskets of bread pieces left over at the end. 12 baskets? There was only five loaves to start with. Did the disciples travel into the future once again and steal 12 baskets from Barbie's play house?

Maybe, and it is just a possibility, the story was edited to make things look good. Maybe it never happened that way. Maybe the whole thing went down completely different.

Jesus: I am starving. All this preaching is tiring work. What we got to eat Philip?
Philip: What?
Jesus: Wake up man. It is a simple enough question. What have we got to eat?
Philip: I didn't know I would be supplying the food. Nobody told me. Oh shit. Am I going to Hell for this?
Jesus: Relax. I won't send you to Hell for forgetting the food. But it will be noted for when you reach the pearly gates. One more screw-up like this and you will be making toast for eternity in Hell.
Philip: Oh God. I mean Oh God forgive me. I didn't know. Nobody said. We passed through the market on the way. Would have have been nice if someone had said "Hey Philip pick up snacks it is going to be a long day." But no, nobody did.
Andrew: Hey Jesus, see that small lad down there he has 5 loaves and a couple of fish. We could eat them.
Jesus: I don't know. We start pulling out loaves of bread and fish and we will have to share.
Andrew: True. Remember that time you pulled out a glass of wine and all of a sudden everyone wanted some?
Jesus: Yeah. And then the Rabbi confiscated it. Never did see that wine again. Bet the old drunkard drank it.
Andrew: Most likely. Maybe we could just eat it without anyone seeing.
Philip: That isn't very Christian like.
Jesus: Pardon? I'll decide what is Christian or not. After all it is named after me. If I say it is so then it is Christian like.
Philip: Sorry Jesus. But all these people are hungry too.
Jesus: And that is my problem? I know if I was going to be following someone all day I would bring food with me and a drink. If they can't be prepared that is not my fault. Kind of like when the end times come. I'm not going to be hanging around taking the blame that people weren't ready.
Andrew: Yeah. Let the bastards starve.
Jesus: Whoa! Where is this coming from?
Andrew: I was just agreeing with you.
Jesus: That is not what I said at all. This is why I try not to say too much. You say one thing and some idiot thinks it means something completely different. All I said was that it wasn't my fault.
Philip: Yeah Andrew pay attention.
Andrew: Shut up Philip you forgot the food.
Jesus: OK. I have a plan.
Andrew: What is it?
Jesus: Philip you go down there and distract the boy. Do that thing where you juggle three rocks. It will keep him amused for ages. Andrew, while the boy is distracted you steal the loaves and the fish.
Philip: That is the plan?
Jesus: You got anything better?
Philip: Well, no.
Andrew: Just one problem.
Jesus: Oh great here we go again. And you wonder why when we play The A-Team you never get picked Andrew. What is the problem?
Andrew: Stealing. Isn't that like one of the ten commandments?
Jesus: Do I have to explain the whole trinity thing to you again? I am God. I am Jesus. I am the Holy Ghost. I am one but I am three. So if as God I made the commandments; I as Jesus can break them. I make the rules so I can change them.
Philip: We can break the rules?
Jesus: No. I can. It is not monkey see monkey do.
Philip: Pity. Because I have had my eye on my neighbour's ass for a while.
Jesus: What?
Andrew: Is there something you want to tell us Philip?
Jesus: Isn't your neighbour that man that lives on his own; called Abdul?
Philip: Yeah and he has a wonderful ass. I was watching it the other day.
Jesus: I don't think forgetting the food is your biggest concern when you try to get into heaven.
Andrew: I don't feel too good. We showered in the temple together. I didn't know.
Philip: What? It would make a great companion for my donkey.
Jesus: (laughing) Thank Dad for that. I thought you was trying to tell us you were gay.
Philip: I wouldn't tell you that.
Jesus: OK. Back to the plan. Let us get this done and eat.
Andrew: Just another...
Jesus: (interrupting) What is it?
Andrew: How do we make sure nobody sees?
Philip: Good point.
Jesus: OK. Make them all sit down first. We are at the top of the mountain, they are below, if they sit down they can't see what we are doing.
Philip: But...
Jesus: Look we get it. You are gay. You don't need to advertise it. It is 30 AD. There is no such thing as gay rights. So stop going on about asses and buts. Just get down there and start juggling. Andrew will steal the food, and we all get to eat.
John: Hate to interrupt Jesus.
Jesus: I swear there are days I wish I had just agreed with the devil. What is it?
John: Well, you know how I am chronicling all this, writing everything down, so that people can read it?
Jesus: Yes, and?
John: Got to say, at the moment you kind of look like a bastard. You are homophobic, you are stealing from a child, and you are being deceitful and uncaring.
Jesus: You write everything down?
John: Well, not what goes on when you and Mary have them special lessons alone.
Jesus: Good. Just cross all that out. And re-write it. Use your imagination. Make me look real good. Say I didn't worry about myself and fed everyone. Try to make Philip less gay too; you know how rumours start.
John: But wouldn't that be lying?
Jesus: OK. I'm putting my God hat on now...
Philip: (interrupting) I don't see a hat.
Jesus: It is a figure of speech. It just means I am talking as God now.
Philip: Oh right. I didn't know God had a hat.
Jesus: I don't.
Philip: But God does. Maybe you could borrow it.
Jesus: I give up. I swear some days you disciples are enough to make a saint swear.
Peter: (in the distance) Fuck off you heathens!
Jesus: John, as God I inspire you to write the story of me feeding the five thousand.
John: But you are not.
Jesus: I know I'm not. But now you don't have to lie. It is the word as inspired by God.
Philip: Who forgot his hat it would seem.
Jesus: Look! I'm hungry. You go write this the best way you can. You go down and juggle your rocks. You go steal the food; and I will tell all these people to sit down and talk amongst themselves for a few minutes. Got it?
Philip: Got it.
Andrew: Got it.
John: Got it.
Jesus: Right then. Get to it and we can get some food. It took so long explaining it to you monkeys the fish have most likely gone off.
Peter: (in the distance) Who the fuck are you? Charles Darwin? Sit your arse down before I throw you off this mountain.
Jesus: Oh me, oh me, why have I forsaken myself.

I'm not saying it did happen like that. But the chances of 13 eating rather than 5,013 are a bit more likely.

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