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A Tale of Two Caesareas

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  • Frank McCoy
    ... near a temple to Augustus. There was such a temple at Caesarea Maratima and another such temple near Caesarea Philippi. ... being who declares Jesus to be
    Message 1 of 1 , May 11, 2003
      --- Ted Weeden <weedent@...> wrote:
      > Frank McCoy wrote on Thursday, April 17, 2003:
      > > This suggests that Mark's community was located
      near a temple to Augustus. There was such a temple at
      Caesarea Maratima and another such temple near
      Caesarea Philippi.
      > >
      > > Further, that, in Mark's gospel, the only human
      being who declares Jesus to be Son of God is a Roman
      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

      (Ted Weeden)
      > For some time I have been an advocate of the Markan
      provenance 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).
      > In those three posts I began to develop further my
      case by giving extensive background on Caesarea
      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.
      > I share those twelve points below:
      > (1)The rural ambience of the Markan narrative
      suggests that the Markan community is situated in a
      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
      polis (city).

      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.

      (Ted Weeden)
      > (2) Mark's calling Lake Gennesaret a "sea" (the "Sea
      of 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,

      (Frank McCoy)
      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.

      (Ted Weeden)
      > (3) With all his infamous geographical errors, Mark
      appears 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:

      (Frank McCoy)
      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?

      (Ted Weeden)
      > (4) In ancient times a road, called "the Way of the
      Sea" (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*.

      (Frank McCoy
      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
      north-south road.

      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
      Mount Hermon.

      (Ted Weeden)
      > (5) It is *on the way* to the village region of
      Caesarea 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

      (Frank McCoy)
      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
      Caesarea Maratima.

      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
      to them?

      (Ted Weeden)
      > (6) Inexplicably a crowd suddenly gathers on the way
      to Caesarea Philippi (8:34), which Jesus gathers
      together and teaches, a "Caesarean" crowd which
      narratively serves, in my judgment, as a surrogate for
      Mark's community.

      (Frank McCoy)
      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
      Caesarea Maratima.

      (Ted Weeden)
      > (7) The subject matter of 8:28-9:1, much of which is
      directed 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
      away [13:30]).

      (Frank McCoy)
      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
      Caesarea Maratima.

      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.

      (Ted Weeden)I
      > (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.

      (Frank McCoy)
      There also was an Augusteum at Caesarea Maratima.

      (Ted Weeden)
      > (9) In Mk 13:10, the Markan Jesus tells his
      disciples 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.

      (Frank McCoy)
      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.

      (Ted Weeden)
      (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"

      (Frank McCoy)
      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?

      (Ted Weeden)
      (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
      mountainous area.

      (Frank McCoy)
      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.

      (Ted Weeden)
      (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

      (Frank McCoy)
      I agree that the transfiguration mountain is probably
      Mt. Hermon.

      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.


      Frank McCoy
      1809 N. English Apt. 17
      Maplewood, MN USA 55109

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