Book of Mormon, Hugh Nibley
Chapter 19: Christ among
The Loaves and "Fishes"
...But now it is time
to turn to a particular text. When E. Revillout announced the discovery
of a Coptic manuscript of the Gospel of the Twelve Apostles in 1904, he
declared it to be the text which Origen and Jerome "considered . . . to
be perhaps earlier than Saint Luke and referred to him in his prologue,"
a work esteemed by the church fathers as of "capital importance," uniquely
free of any hint of heresy, carrying the tradition of Christ's visits to
the earth beyond the scope of Luke-- even to an event fifteen years later.
German scholarship promptly and routinely minimized the claims of Revillout,
and went too far in the process. If the fragments of the Coptic Gospel
of the Twelve Apostles do not necessarily occur in the order in which Revillout
arranged them (the order which we will follow), subsequent discoveries
make it clear that they really are connected parts of a single-- and typical--
forty-day manuscript, and that they belong to the earliest stratum of early
Christian writing. Revillout's arrangment does not follow quite the same
order as 3 Nephi, either, but a comparison of the two may be instructive.
The Lord's condescension:
He came and ate with them:
Evangile des douze apôtres,
Fragment 2, in PO 2:132
Friends: Have you ever
seen, Bretheren, such a loving Lord, promising his apostles his own kingdom?
Where they would eat and drink with him upon a heavenly table even as he
had eaten with them on earth at an earthly table.
Thereby he up them in
mind of the heavenly table, considering the things of this world [kosmos]
PO 2:132-33. If you really
want to know, listen and I will tell you. Did not God feel an equal love
for all of his apostles? Listen to John the Evangelist, testifying how
the Christ used to plead with [sops] his Father on their behalf, even that
"They become on even as we are one."
PO 2:133. Do you want
to know the truth about that? It is that he chose the Twelve.
PO 2:132. Listen to John
the Evangelist testifying. [On this matter he refers them back to the testimony
barley loaves and the "fishes":
PO 2:133. . . . upon
them, saying, I feel concerned [pity] for this multitude; for behold they
have been with me for three days, and [now] they have nothing to eat. I
don't want to let them leave here hungry, lest they faint by the wayside.
Andrew said to him, My
Lord, where will we find bread in this wilderness?
Jesus said to Thomas:
Go to a certain [pei] man who has with him five loaves of barley bread
and two fishes, and bring them to me here.
Andrew said to him Lord,
how far would five loaves go with such a huge crowd?
Jesus saith to him: Bring
them to me and there will be enough.
(While they go for the food
Jesus talks with a little child.)
And so they sent [for
the food]. A small child was brought to Jesus, and straightway, he began
to worship him. The small child said to Jesus, Lord I have suffered much
because of these [i.e., at the hands of people. The puzzled scribe connects
this with the loaves: the child must have suffered because of them, as
if the child had been sent to fetch them]. Jesus saith to the child, Give
me the five loaves which have been entrusted to you.
PO 2:134. Thou has not saved [rescued]
this multitude in time of need, but it is the toikonomia [arrangment, ordinance,
divine intent] that [they] behold a marvelous thing, the remembrance of
which shall never pass away, nor the food with which they are filled.
Note here the strange precocity of the child
and the sacramental (memorial) nature of the meal.
The sacrament administered:
PO 2:134. And Jesus (1)
took the loaves
and (2) blessed them
[gave thanks over them]
and (3) blessed it;
and (4) gave them to
(5) that they might
bear them to the multitude.
The sacrament withheld:
PO 2:134. For Judas [had
been] the last to partake of the loaves [this refers back to the Last Supper,
to illustrate a principle].
Andrew said to Jesus,
O Master [sah], Judas did not receive a kleronomia [of] loaves . . . to
bear to the multitude . . . [such as] . . . we were to give to them.
That is because he to
whom I did not give a share of the loaves from my hands was not worthy
of a part [share] of my flesh.
Neither did he care to
share with the poor, but thought only of the glosogomon [finance].
The sacramental prayer:
PO 2:134. It is a mystery
of my Father . . . which con[cern]s . . . the partaking [dividing] of my
And forthwith he blessed
them, saying, O my Father, root [source] of all good, I ask thee to bless
these five barley loaves that all these [multitude] may be filled, that
thy son may be glorified in thee; and that those whom thou hast drawn to
thee out of the world might hearken to [after, obey] him.
PO 2:134-35. And straightway
his word came to pass in exousia [authority, as requested]. His blessing
fell upon [shope] the bread in the apostles' hands.
And all the people ate
and were filled. They gave praise to God.
Jesus prays three times:
PO 2:134-35. You have
seen, O my beloved one, what love Jesus had toward his apostles, insomuch
that he kept [hid] nothing from them of any of the things touching upon
his godhead [relationship to God].
The first time while
blessing the five loaves of barley bread.
The second time in his
giving thanks to his Father [the prayer is not quoted].
The third time in giving
thanks for the seven
loaves [the prayer is not quoted].
The Lord invites the
disciples to ask for higher things:
PO 2:135. Have you seen
[considered], O my beloved ones, the love of Jesus towards his apostles;
insomuch that he did not conceal anything from them, even all the things
concerning his godhead?
They are abashed and
have to be encouraged:
PO 2:135-36. Jesus saith
unto Thomas: Thomas my friend, you and your brethren are free to ask me
whatsoever you please and I will keep nothing back from you. Insomuch that
you may see, and feel [palpitate] and be convinced in your heart...