A Tale of Two Caesareas
- --- Ted Weeden <weedent@...> wrote:
> Frank McCoy wrote on Thursday, April 17, 2003:near a temple to Augustus. There was such a temple at
> > This suggests that Mark's community was located
Caesarea Maratima and another such temple near
> >being who declares Jesus to be Son of God is a Roman
> > Further, that, in Mark's gospel, the only human
Centurion suggests that many in Mark's community
were Roman soldiers attracted to Judaism and repelled
by the worship of Augustus as Son of God. This favors
Caesarea Maratima over Caesarea Philippi as the
location for Mark's community, for there normally was
a large garrison of Roman troops stationed atCaesarea
> For some time I have been an advocate of the Markanprovenance being Caesarea Philippi. I first presented
my position on XTalk in a post of February 29, 2000,
entitled, "Guidelines for Locating the Markan
Community." As a part of my "Two Jesuses Thesis," (X
Talk post, "Two Jesuses: the Provocative Parallels,"
March 4, 2003, and subsequent posts on the thesis), I
also argued for the provenance of Mark being Caesarea
Philippi and followed that up with three posts:
"Caesarea Philippi and the Markan
Community: I," (March 16, 2003), "Caesarea Philippi
and the Markan Community, IIA" (March 17, 2003),
"Caesarea Philippi and the Markan Community, IIB"
(March 17, 2003).
>case by giving extensive background on Caesarea
> In those three posts I began to develop further my
Philippi in preparation for a post in which I would
tie the "internals" of the Gospel of Mark with the
"externals" of Caesarea Philippi in the first century
CE, particularly in the "war years." I have not been
able to finish that post because of the continuing
work and attention I am giving to my "Two Jesuses"
theory. However, Frank's post in which he has argued
for Mark's community being located at Caesarea
Maratima rather than Caesarea Philippi has prompted me
to share twelve points I will make in the as yet
unfinished essay. The twelve points indicate how, in
my judgment, the "internals" of the Markan Gospel and
the "externals" of the Caesarea Philippi Sitz im Leben
fit hand in glove in support of my position.
>suggests that the Markan community is situated in a
> I share those twelve points below:
> (1)The rural ambience of the Markan narrative
rural village (so Howard Kee, _Community of the New
Age_; Richard Rohrbaugh, "The Social Location of
Mark's Audience," INT_, 1993); and Gerd Theissen (_The
Gospels in Context_).
Dear Ted Weeden:
Since most of Palestine was rural, that much of the
Markan narrative takes place in a rural setting is
only to be expected. So, ISTM, it is dubious to take
this as an indication that the Markan community was
located in a rural village.
Further, there is evidence that the Markan community
was located in a city.
For example, while Mark's Jesus is from the village of
Nazareth, his main residence during his greater
Galiean ministry appears to have been Capernaum and a
house there (1:21-44, 2:1-3:6, 3:19-35, & 9:33-50).
Capernaum was not a city. In Excavating Jesus (p. 81),
John Dominic Cossan and Jonathan L. Reed state,
"First-century Capernaum was a modest Jewish village
on the periphery of Antipas's territory relying
chiefly on agriculture and fishing."
However, in 1:33, Mark asserts that Capernaum was a
Why does Mark exaggeratingly refer to Capernaum as a
city when it was a village?
One possibility is that Mark's community was located
in a city: with him exaggeratedly referring to Jesus'
main residence as a city so as to make it appear that
Jesus was like one of themselves in this respect.
Too, Mark's Jesus spends more time in cities than one
would reasonably expect him to.
Note that, in 11:11-19, 11:27-13:2, & 14:17-15:39,
Mark's Jesus is in the city of Jerusalem. Also, as
pointed out above, in 1:21-44, 2:1-3:6, 3:19-35, &
9:33-50, Mark's Jesus is in Capernaum--which, Mark
asserts, was a polis. Finally, in 10:24-31. Mark's
Jesus visits the cities of Tyre and Sidon. So, Mark's
Jesus is in what Mark deems to be a city for over a
third of his gospel. Indeed, if one were to throw
Jerusalem's immediate suburbs like Bethany into the
Jerusalem metropolitan area, Mark's Jesus is in what
Mark deems to be a city for about half of Mark's
Considering that cities were few and encompassed but a
tiny percentage of the total population and areal
extent, Mark's Jesus is in a city for an
extra-ordinary amount of Mark's gospel.
How is one to explain this? This simplest
explanation, ISTM, is that Mark's community was
located in a city.
> (2) Mark's calling Lake Gennesaret a "sea" (the "Seaof Galilee"), rather than a "lake," suggests that he
is so far removed from a real sea that he does not
know the difference between a body of water
legitimately called a "sea" and a body of water that
can only legitimately be called a "lake" (so Theissen,
Caesarea Philippi was only about 30 miles from the
Meditteranean Sea and was connected to it by a main
road. If Mark and his community were located in or
near Caesarea Philippi, how could they have been in
ignorance of the size of the Meditteranean Sea?
In any event, if, as suggested above, Mark, in a
deliberate fashion, exaggeratingly referred to the
village of Caesarea as a city, then he might have, in
a deliberate fashion, exagerratingly referred to this
lake (which Capernaum faced) as a sea--all for purpose
of making it appear that Jesus' main residence had
been a city by a sea. The suggested reason: to make
it appear that Jesus was similar to the members of the
Markan community in that he had resided in a city by a
In this regard, it is noteworthy that the four closest
companions of Mark's Jesus (Peter, Andrew, John, and
James) are fishermen. Further, Mark's Jesus is at
home in a boat: frequently traveling by boat and even,
once, speaking to a crowd on the shore from a boat.
This makes him sound like somebody living in a
sea-port. The suggested reason: Mark's community was
located in a sea-port and Mark makes Jesus appear to
be someone living in a sea-port in order to make it
appear that Jesus was similar to the members of the
Markan community in that he resided in a sea-port.
The bottom line: There is evidence that the Markan
community was located in a city, by the sea, that was
a sea-port. This evidence is contrary to the
hypothesis that the Markan community was located in or
near the land-locked city of Caesarea Philippi. On
the other hand, this evidence is consistent with the
hypothesis that the Markan community was located in
the sea-port city of Caesarea Maratima.
> (3) With all his infamous geographical errors, Markappears to know well the "lay of the land" from north
of the Sea of Galilee to Caesarea Philippi (Dean
Chapman, Locating the Gospel of Mark, _BTB_, 1995:
I am aware of only one clear geographical error by
Mark. This is in 5:1, where he speaks of the
Gerasenes when he should be speaking of the Gadarenes.
Considering the closeness of the two names and the
fact that both peoples resided in the Decapolis, this
mistake is easy to make and understandable. Matthew
caught this error and corrected it in his own gospel.
Ted, could you list what you deem to be the "infamous"
geographical errors made by Mark?
> (4) In ancient times a road, called "the Way of theSea" (Isa. 9:1) traversed from Damascus in the east,
passed through Caesarea Philippi, to Tyre in the west.
I posit that Mark alludes to that road when he
narrates as follows in 8:27: "And Jesus went on with
his disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi;
and *on the way* . . . ." Furthermore, I propose
that Mark drew upon the name of that road, as "the
Way," and turned it, in conjunction with Isa. 40:3,
into a eschatological metaphor for *the way* of Jesus
(1:2-3), as well as a metaphor for discipleship,
namely for those who commit themselves to following
Jesus *on the way* (see 10:52). Such an
eschatological, christological and discipleship
metaphor would likely have ad appeal to and resonated
naturally with Mark's Caesarea Philippi community and
its everyday awareness of *the Way of the Sea*.
The evidence, ISTM, suggests that the way of 8:27 is
not the Way of the Sea.
First, Jesus and his disciples had previously been at
Bethsaida (see 8:22-26). So, 8:27a is to be more
fully understood this way, "And Jesus went on with his
disciples (from Bethsaida) to the villages of Caesarea
Philippi, and *on the way*...." Since Bethsaida was
south of Caesarea Philippi, this suggests that, in
8:27, Jesus and his disciples are heading north on a
Second, shortly afterwards (9:2-8), Jesus and his
closest disciples go to a high mountain, where he is
transfigured. The highest mountain around Caesarea
Philippi was Mount Hermon, which was north of Caesarea
Philippi. So, it appears, they travelled on a
north-south road northwards from Bethsaida to the
villages of Caesarea Philippi to Mount Hermon.
If so, then the way of 8:27 cannot be the Way of the
Sea: for the Way of the Sea ran east-west.
BTW, if, as suggested, the way of 8:27 is a
north-south road and headed north from Caesarea
Philippi to Mount Hermon, then, in Mark 8:27-9:12, we
have a situation in which a way connects a Casearea in
the south to a high mountain in the north. This
mirrors the situation at the other Caesarea, i.e.,
Caesarea Maratima: where the main way (i.e., the
coastal highway) ran north-south and, when one
continued north from that Caesarea on the main way,
one came to a high mountain (i.e., Mt. Carmel).
Therefore, I suggest, the following surrogate
relationships in 5:27-9:12: (1) Caesarea Philippi is a
surrogate for Caesarea Maratima, (2) Mount Hermon is a
surrogate for Mt. Carmel, and (3) the way of 8:27,
particularly its segment between Caesarea Philippi and
Mount Hermon, is a surrogate for the coastal highway,
particularly its segment between Casarea Maratima and
> (5) It is *on the way* to the village region ofCaesarea Philippi that Mark focuses (8:31-38) via the
Markan Jesus, directly and for the first time on the
Gospel's primary and most critical theological issues
(the nature of christology and the nature of
If, as suggested above, Caesarea Philippi is a
surrogate for the other Caesarea, i.e., Caesarea
Maratima, in Mark's narrative, then this is an
indication that Mark's community was located at
Ted, you cite 8:31-38. Let us look at its first part,
i.e., 31-33, "And he began to teach them that it is
necessary (for) the Son of Man to suffer many things,
and to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests
and the scribes, and to be killed, and after three
days to rise. And he was speaking the word with
plainness. And, having taken him aside, Peter began
to rebuke him. And, having turned around, and having
seen his disciples, he rebuked Peter and says, 'Go
away behind me Satan, because you are not thinking the
things of God but the things of men.'"
I suggest that, this indicates, the Markan community
was split into two factions: (1) the first, to which
Mark belonged, espoused a Suffering Servant
Christology, and (2) the second espoused another
Christology which, they claimed, is the Christology of
In this regard, it is noteworthy that, in Acts
8:26-35, Luke pictures Philip the Evangelist as
espousing a Suffering Servant Christology. Then, a
few verses later (i.e., 8:40), he states that Philip
went to Caesarea Maratima. Again, in Chapter 10 of
Acts, Luke has Peter come to Caesarea Maratima. Might
it not be, then, that the Markan community was located
at Caesarea Maratima and that Mark belonged to a
faction there that accepted the Suffering Servant
Christology preached by Philip to them and that they
were opposed by another faction there that accepted a
contrary Christology that had been preached by Peter
> (6) Inexplicably a crowd suddenly gathers on the wayto Caesarea Philippi (8:34), which Jesus gathers
together and teaches, a "Caesarean" crowd which
narratively serves, in my judgment, as a surrogate for
If you are correct in thinking that the crowd is a
surrogate for Mark's community, and if, as suggested
above, Caesarea Philippi is a surrogate for Caesarea
Maratima, then Mark's community was located at
> (7) The subject matter of 8:28-9:1, much of which isdirected to the "Caesarean" crowd that makes its
sudden appearance *on the way*, covers many of the key
issues facing Jesus' post-Easter followers, issues
which are addressed by the Markan Jesus in Mk. 13,
namely: the Christ-issue ( You are the Christ [8:28]/
False christs...will arise [13:22] ), witnessing for
or being ashamed of Christ ( whoever is ashamed of me
[8:38]/ stand...for my sake, to bear testimony
[13:9], assurance of salvation ( lose your life
[8:35]/ he who endures to the end [13:13]), the
credibility of Jesus' words ( ashamed of...my words
[8:38]/ my words will not pass away [13:30]), the
exaltation-enthronement of the Son of the Human One
with angels (8:38/13:26f.) and the assurance that the
final eschatological event will happen before the end
of the current generation (some standing here will not
taste death [9:1]/ this generation will not pass
Ted, if you are correct in thinking that the crowd is
a surrogate for Mark's community, and if, as suggested
above, Caesarea Philippi is a surrogate for Caesarea
Maratima, then Mark's community was located at
Also, we need to take into consideration the fact that
prophecy plays a very important role in Mark's gospel.
Ted, you cite chapter 13 several times above and it
is an extended series of prophecies--the "little
apocalypse." This indicates that prophecy played an
important role in Mark's community.
In this regard, there is evidence that prophecy played
an important role in the Christian community at
Caesarea Maratima. See Acts 28:8-12, "On the morrow
we departed and came to Caesarea (Maratima); and we
entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was
one of the seven, and stayed with him. And he had
four unmarried daughters who prophecied. While we
were staying there for some days, a prophet named
Agabus came down form Judea. And coming to us he took
Paul's girdle and bound his own feet and hands, and
said, 'Thus says the Holy Spirit, So shall the Jews at
Jerusalem bind the man who owns this girdle and
deliver him into the hands of Gentiles.'" (RSV)
This is yet another indication that the Markan
community was located at Caesarea Maratima.
> (8) It has been persuasively suggested (see, e.g.,Craig Evans,_Mark and Craig Evans, "Mark's Incipit and
the Priene Calendar Inscription," _Journal of
Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaims, I, 67-81) that
Mark drew upon the Priene Calendar Inscription, which
commemorated Caesar Augustus' birthday (63 BCE-14 CE)
the adoration of him as savior of the world, to serve
as a hypotext for the creation of his hypertext
incipit of his Gospel (1:1). Herod the Great, prior to
founding of Caesarea Philippi by Philip the tetrarch
in 3 BCE, built a magnificent temple, the Augusteum,
which he dedicated to and for the Imperial Cult
worship of Augustus Caesar. It is not inconceivable
that some form of the Priene Calendar Inscription
would have been represented at the Augusteum and thus
known by Mark's community, as well as being accessible
to Mark as a hypotext for his hypertext.incipit.
There also was an Augusteum at Caesarea Maratima.
> (9) In Mk 13:10, the Markan Jesus tells hisdisciples that the Gospel must be preached to all
nations (EIS PANTA TA EQNH, "to all peoples") . With
a widely diverse population, consisting of Syrians,
Phoenicians, Hellenized Itureans, descendants of
former Greek military colonizers, Bedouins, Judean and
Babylonian Jews, Caesarea Philippi must have been
experienced by the Markan community as the gathering
place of all the nations or ethnic groups to which
Jesus had charged his disciples to preach the Gospel.
Caesarea Maratima was a major sea-port and ships
docked there from all over the Meditteranean Sea. So,
there were a lot more nationalities and ethnic groups
to preach to there than at Caesarea Philippi.
According to Luke in Acts, Paul frequently either
embarked or disembarked at Caesarea Maratima and it is
likely that this was true for many other Christian
missionaries as well. So, in this sense, Caesarea
Maratima was a main hub in the early Christian
outreach to the whole Roman Empire.
(10) In Mark 13:7-8, the Markan Jesus prophecies that
there will be wars and rumors of war but the end is
not yet. For the Markan community in Caesarea
Philippi that prophecy must have been experienced as
actualized in their midst with the Roman Galilean
campaign to their west, with Vespasian, on the
invitation of Agrippa II, bringing his troops to
Caesarea Philippi in the summer of 67 CE to ward off
any threat of possible rebels there exporting the
Judean revolution to the Caesarea Philippi region
(_J.W._, III. 443-444) , and then with the siege and
destruction of Jerusalem followed by Titus bringing
Judean prisoners of the war to Caesarea Philippi to
engage in gruesome spectacles of revenge against the
Judeans (Josephus, _J.W._, VII. 23-24, 37-38). The
latter may well have served for Mark as an ideational
foil for his motif of the yet to come "tribulation
[which] has not been from the beginning of creation"
For purposes of dating the time around when Mark wrote
his gospel and determining the sitz im leben for his
gospel, this is, ISTM, a pretty worthless prophecy.
When hasn't there been wars and rumors of wars?
(11) In Mk 13:14, the Markan Jesus warns the people
"in Judea to flee to the mountains" (13:14). It is
very doubtful that when Mark penned that warning
he imaged a flight due north to Galilee, which had
already been embroiled in the ravages of the war. It
is most likely that the route of the flight Mark
had in mind was a flight across the Jordan River and
up the eastern side of the Jordan to Caesarea Philippi
and Mt. Hermon and the Anti-Lebanon chain. It is
doubtful that Pella would have been the destination
Mark had in mind since Pella is not situated in a
13:14-20 appears to refer to an incident in early 49
CE: with, in 13:14, (1) the abomination of desolation
being the Roman soldier who had profaned the temple in
a pornographic and degrading manner and (2) the flight
to the mountains being the flight of a group of Jewish
rebels, who had battled Roman troops at the temple,
from Jerusalem to the mountainous Beth-horon region.
(12) Mark, with Jesus narratively still apparently in
the region of the villages of Caesarea Philippi, sets
the transfiguration on a "high mountain." In my
judgment, as well as the judgment of George
Nickelsburg("Excursus: Sacred Geography in I Encoh
6-1:16," in _I Enoch I_, 246), the "high mountain"
Mark has in mind is Mt. Hermon which rises from its
base, near Caesarea Philippi, to 9,280 feet at its
peak (per Nickelsburg, 239). Nickelsburg submits that
"Mark's juxtaposition of ... the story of Jesus'
transfiguration 'on a high mountain apart' (Mark
9:1-8) suggests a broader, post-resurrection
revelatiory tradition bound to the area of Mt.
Hermon," a site which both at its base and in its
heights has been location for many ancient religious
traditions, from Canaanite times to the Markan
present, as the place of the epiphany of the
I agree that the transfiguration mountain is probably
BTW, in support of this idea, suggested earlier in
this post, that the transfiguration mountain not only
is Mount Hermon, but that Mount Hermon, in turn, is a
surrogate for Mt. Carmel, it is noteworthy that
Elijah plays an important role at both the
transfiguration mountain (for he is one of two figures
to appear with the transfigured Jesus) and at Mt.
Carmel (for it is there that he defeated 450 prophets
of Baal--see I Kings 18:20-45).
Indeed, there might be an allusion to I Kings 18:20-45
in Mark's narrative of the transfiguration in that, in
both, after a miracle (the heavenly fire that burnt
the wetted-down altar and its offering/the
transfiguration of Jesus), there is the miraculously
sudden manifestation of a cloud (a cloud, over the
sea, that soon envelops the sky and pours down rain/a
cloud from which God speaks).
There is another reason, as well, for thinking that
the transfiguration mount is a surrogate for Mt.
Carmel. After descending from the transfiguration
mount, Jesus casts out a demon from a boy. In
9:26b-27, Mark comments that "the boy was like a
corpse; so that most of them said, 'He is dead.' But
Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he
arose." (RSV) That Mark's Jesus descends from the
transfiguration mount and raises up a boy who appears
to be dead clearly evokes, ISTM, II Kings 4:25-35:
where Elisha descends from Mt. Carmel and raises up a
boy from the dead.
So, while, in Mark's text, the transfiguration
apparently takes place on Mount Hermon, there is
evidence that this mountain is a surrogate for Mt.
Carmel. The suggested reason: the Markan community
was located near Mt. Carmel--in particular, not far
south of Mt Carmel at Caesarea Maratima.
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