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In The Living Bible, Mark 6:39-40 is rendered:

Then Jesus told the crowd to sit down, and soon colorful groups of fifty or a hundred each were sitting on the green grass.

I was puzzled by the word colourful and initially attributed it to the Living's paraphrase. But then I read the same verses in the Amplified version:

39 Then Jesus commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. 40 They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties [so that the crowd resembled an orderly arrangement of colorful garden plots].

My two questions are:

  1. Is there any justification in the original Greek [πρασιαί] for using the adjective colourful to describe the crowd? Looking at Strong's and particularly that word1, I cannot see any justification, except a possible connection to flower beds (see footnote below).
  2. Assuming that using colourful is appropriate, what does that word signify here? Is it referring to various styles of dress, race, age or some other feature implying the crowd is diverse?

(Going through all the English translations on Bible Gateway, I see that word also inspired The Message translator: "...they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass!")

1 The reason for zooming in on that word is from this footnote in the Geneva Bible: The word signifieth the beds in a garden, and it is word for word, by beds and beds, meaning thereby that they sat down in rows one by another, as beds in a garden.

2

Young's Literal Translation of Mark 6:39-40,

"39 And he commanded them to make all recline in companies upon the green grass, 40 and they sat down in squares, by hundreds, and by fifties."

Young's doesn't insert an adjective before "squares". The intent is the formation, in a group, like a garden bed, and is a Hebraism.

Strong's Gr. 4237: prasia - "a company formed into divisions (like garden-beds)"

Thayer's Greek Lexicon: a plot of ground, a garden-bed, and is a Hebraism meaning "they reclined in ranks or divisions, so that the several ranks formed, as it were, separate plots"

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance: "a group, Perhaps from prason (a leek, and so an onion-patch); a garden plot, i.e. (by implication, of regular beds) a row (repeated in plural by Hebraism, to indicate an arrangement) -- in ranks.

NAS Exhaustive Concordance: Word origin: from prason (a leek); definition: a garden bed.

The intent is the formation, not of color. The translations in the Living Bible, and the Amplified Version appear to have used some license with the adjective "colorful". I have found Young's Literal Translation to be more reliable.

The Intelinear has Mark 6:40 as,

"kai anepesan praisia praisia kata hekaton kai kata pentekonta" (Gr. transliteration - bold emphasis is mine)

and is translated in English as:

"And they sat down groups (by) groups by hundreds and by fifties"

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