Multiplication vs. Sharing of the Loaves - Source


I was curious if anyone knew where the idea that the “real” miracle of the multiplication of the loaves was that Jesus got everyone “to share” came from. I had heard it before, and it has been countered recently in the Ask an Apologist forum.

But my question is where did this idea originate? My original thought was the Jesus Seminar, but tracing things to them can be difficult. Anyone know?


Hi mvinca,

I believe it originated in Vie de Jesus by Ernest Renan, an 18th century rationalist. Professing to respect Jesus as a great teacher, he tried to explain away all the miracles. Since then, many have followed in his footsteps.




Thank you for the answer. I found the following English translation but I couldn’t find anything regarding this specific miracle. Maybe it is a translation issue?


Hi mvinca,

Have you read the whole thing already? To be frank, I’m not sure it’s in this work or in Renan at all. Your question rang a bell, that’s all.



I’ve no idea where and when it started, but I do remember the first time I ever knew of this notion - in the 1960’s in a JW pamphlet that spoke of the “sharing” idea in very favorable tones. :eek:


I guess I will throw this out there. What would be the greater miracle? I think sharing would be the greater miracle. Sharing - people doing God’s will. After all, God created everything. I think the greater miracle would be people surrendering their will to the will of God. Anyway - just a thought.


I think the greater miracle is the one that happened - the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and I think the other is simply revisionism.
The entire point of the story was not pointed towards sharing with one another but a forshadowing of the Eucharist.
**It is Jesus who feeds us just as it was he who fed the multitude. **
In the Gospel of John, this miracle happens right before the Bread of Life Discourse and there are many parallels.


We had someone pop up with this idea at a Bible study in a Catholic group at college. It was so out of left field, it took a minute to reply to. Finally, all we could manage is, “Where the heck do you get that idea from the text?!?”

If you want sharing, look at the early Church in Acts holding “everything in common.” THAT was sharing to a prophetic and witnessing degree.


Ok, this bugged me, so I did some searching online. The best I could come up with was a 1986 article by a J.M. Bessler in The Journal of Religionquoting a 1957 article “The Parable of the Loaves” in Anglican Theological Review by Donald F. Robinson. Apparently, the 1957 article proposed that the multiplication stores were in fact parables, which he equated with allegory. (and then Ms. Bessler equated with metaphor)


Yes. First, Jesus feeds the 5,000–miraculously! Then, they want to make him king, but he disappears from their sight. The apostles get in the boat and leave without him. Then he walks on the water to get to the boat! When he gets in, suddenly they are at the other shore.

It is almost as if he is trying to impress them.

And what happens next? He gives the discourse on the bread of life, explaining that he will give them his flesh to eat. Maybe he wanted to be sure that they would have no reason to doubt that he could do what he said.

And, of course, the multiplication of the loaves IS a foreshadowing of the Eucharist.


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