Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Geography Error in Mark 11:1

Expand Messages
  • vincentsapone
    ... fellow ... Actually, this incident is just a tiny part of a larger consideration of Marcan geography which is in turn just a tiny part of a larger
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 5, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      > It's at times like this that I real feel for the poor Gospel
      > authors. They wrote down their stuff for the benefit of a few
      fellow
      > Jesus types and now their works are turned upside down and the
      > slightest mistake or inconsistancy subject to research papers.
      >

      Actually, this incident is just a tiny part of a larger
      consideration of Marcan geography which is in turn just a tiny part
      of a larger consideration of Marcan authorship and provenance. I
      simply want to be thorough.

      > Mark made a slight mistake here. I am not sure it tells us
      anything > except that Mark made a mistake (which we all do). Only
      taken with a > lot more evidence could this be taken as part of a
      case that Mark > didn't know the area. If I say that we headed to
      Bristol from London > and stopped off at Bath and Swindon, I do not
      expect anyone to pick > up on the fact that Bath is nearer to
      Bristol than Swindon.

      Mark has a "chronological" (or psuedo-Chronological) journey of
      Jesus. He is at Jericho in 10:46. From there the order is reversed
      with the two villages. Yes, even natives of a land can make
      mistakes, but there are of course certain mistakes natives do not
      make. This is not conclusive but on a probability scale it would
      slightly push me away from its author having lived in or directly
      around Jerusalem given the author confuses the order of two
      surrounding villages.

      Also, contrary to what you write, the passage constitutes evidence
      that Mark did know the area. It tells us several things. You
      mentioned several places in your thought example. I have no idea
      where Bath and Swindon are. I've never heard of them and could never
      describe them in a journey as Mark has done with his locations. But
      Mark knows of Jericho, he knew, apparently of the major road leading
      from their to Jerusalem (on Meier's maps in MJ series), he knew of
      Jerusalem and several surrounding villages (Bethany, Bethphage, etc).

      The text shows Mark did know of the land but he reversed the order
      of two towns. Does a resident (native?) of that area make this
      mistake? Also it should be noted that this is not the only
      Palestinian geography error in Mark either. I take it he didn't live
      near Geresa and wasn't directly familiar with the Decapolis either.

      >
      > While most liberal scholars don't accept divine inspiration, they
      > continue to labour under the impression that every jot and tittle
      in > the NT must have some reason for it. And for what it's worth,
      > Guthrie is clutching at straws when he should just shrug.

      Details are what drive sound scholarship IMO. On the grand scheme of
      things this single detail and village reversal isn't going to change
      much. Questions of authorship are important enough though--though
      this is a rather dead issue as the author of Mark is anonymous.
      Though I'd still rather learn all I can about the "author detectable
      by contents". Its a part of source evaluation which is a critical
      cornerstone of scholarship.

      Vincent Sapone
    • Brian Trafford
      This raises a more general question for me. How wide spread was the use of maps during the 1st Century? In other words, is there evidence that maps were used
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 5, 2004
      • 0 Attachment
        This raises a more general question for me. How wide spread was the
        use of maps during the 1st Century? In other words, is there
        evidence that maps were used extensively, especially by authors of
        texts written decades after the fact (here I am thinking of authors
        like Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Plutarch, etc.), or that their
        knowledge of places was all that reliable, especially when taken from
        what would have been second hand sources? The author of Acts, for
        example, gets some pretty obscure details on places and people right,
        but is this more the exception, or the rule for ancient documents of
        this type?

        Thanks,

        Brian Trafford
        Calgary, AB, Canada
      • Bob Schacht
        ... This is a good question. Consider that there were no printing presses, of course, so that each map, as well as each book, had to be copied by hand. Its a
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 5, 2004
        • 0 Attachment
          At 10:18 AM 8/5/2004, you wrote:
          >This raises a more general question for me. How wide spread was the
          >use of maps during the 1st Century? In other words, is there
          >evidence that maps were used extensively, especially by authors of
          >texts written decades after the fact (here I am thinking of authors
          >like Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Plutarch, etc.), or that their
          >knowledge of places was all that reliable, especially when taken from
          >what would have been second hand sources? The author of Acts, for
          >example, gets some pretty obscure details on places and people right,
          >but is this more the exception, or the rule for ancient documents of
          >this type?
          >
          >Thanks,
          >
          >Brian Trafford

          This is a good question. Consider that there were no printing presses, of
          course, so that each map, as well as each book, had to be copied by hand.
          Its a whole lot easier (and perhaps more tedious) to copy a book than to
          copy a map. I suspect that Roman military commanders had access to maps, as
          well as the chief civilian administrators. It seems to me that I recall
          that there was an emerging class of international merchant traders who
          dealt only with governments and wealthy individuals; they probably had some
          access to maps, too, because it was important in their business. I would
          guess that maybe half a dozen people in Judea, and another half dozen in
          Galilee, had access to maps. Probably the numbers in Alexandria were much
          larger. Antioch, maybe somewhat larger. Damascus, maybe half a dozen to a
          dozen people.

          In other words, Jesus and his friends probably had no access to maps
          whatsoever. Mark's access to maps would have depended on who his patrons
          really were. I doubt that he had any maps of his own, unless he made some
          sketch maps while viewing someone else's map. However, even making a decent
          sketch map copy of someone else's map assumes a level of geographical
          awareness and map sense that may have been uncommon. We're so used to maps
          that we take the perspective of a map for granted. But I'm just speculating.

          Let me illustrate. In my days as an archaeologist, I would of course make
          drawings of layers of my portion of the site as the excavation proceeded,
          and of the soil profiles in the sides of the excavated area. My trained eye
          knew what to look for, and provided guidance about what features were
          important enough to draw, and what features to ignore. [This is a highly
          developed sense, akin to a musician being able to pick out the part played
          by the third clarinet in the second movement of a symphony, just by
          listening to the recording. ] When in the course of work I would try to
          discuss what we were doing with my workmen, sometimes I attempted to use my
          drawings to try to help in the process of communication. Mostly, these
          workmen just stared blankly at my drawings, unable to comprehend the
          relationship between my drawings and the ground they were working in.
          Conceivably, my drawings weren't very good <g>. But a map represents a
          symbol environment that can be at least as mystifying as a printed page to
          someone who is illiterate.

          This has a bearing on the historical value of GJohn. It is sometimes
          suggested (e.g., Brown?) that John shows special knowledge of palestinian
          geography, and this is used as evidence for the author's historical
          credibility. Good maps make it easier to fake geographical knowledge. The
          paucity of good maps makes it easier to argue for genuine personal
          geographical knowledge.

          At any rate, a good question, and I hope that someone with more knowledge
          of ancient maps and who used them will respond.

          Bob
          Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
          Northern Arizona University
          Flagstaff, AZ

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.