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Re: [Synoptic-L] Bethsaida and Gennesaret in Mark (Was: A Gentile feeding in Matt?)

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  • J. Ted Blakley
    Dennis, Just a couple of questions of clarification in anticipation of making a fuller response to some of your comments. 1. You mentioned that Jesus and his
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 24, 2004
      Dennis,
      Just a couple of questions of clarification in anticipation of making a
      fuller response to some of your comments.

      1. You mentioned that Jesus and his disciples set out from Gennesaret
      for Bethsaida and instead of arriving at their intended destination *return*
      to Gennesaret. I was just curious as to how you arrived at Gennesaret being
      their point of departure, since in Mark the side trip of 6:30-32 is to an
      unnamed deserted place. Clearly, Gennesaret would be a candidate given that
      it is a plain on the western shore and is as likely a place as any for the
      attempted getaway and there is green grass for the feeding. And given that
      it is a plain that stretches along the shore I guess it is possible that
      they both left from somewhere upon the Gennesaret plain and landed somewhere
      upon the Gennesaret plain. My impression from the Markan narrative is that
      they have not simply returned to where they set out from. They have set out
      from the western shore with an intended destination on the eastern shore and
      for whatever reason did not make it and disembarked on the western shore but
      not in the exact same place, otherwise it would seem odd that Mark would not
      name Gennesaret as their point of disembarkation in 6:32 but then name it as
      their point of disembarkation after a failed journey.

      2. And related to the first issue, I was also curious as to how this
      failure to arrive at their intended destination of Bethsaida but instead
      land at Gennesaret constitutes a geographical error. If they, as you say,
      set out from Gennesaret and return to Gennesaret, I'm not sure how this
      constitutes a "geographical error," be it an error at the historical level
      or the literary level, or an error of any category geographical or
      otherwise. Does not the explicit mention of Bethsaida as the intended
      destination and the explicit mention of Gennesaret as the eventual, actual
      destination suggest that Mark was pointing out to his reading and/or
      listening audience that this is a failed journey, that they didn't get to
      where they were intending to go? So my impression then is that Mark is
      wanting his audience to pick up on the fact that they didn't get to where
      they were intending to go (or more precisely, the disciples didn't get to
      where Jesus intended (compelled/forced) them to go). Afterall, out of the
      six sea crossings, 6:45 is the only time that a destination is mentioned by
      name. In 4:35, Jesus suggested that they go "to the other side" and they
      come "to the other side" to the country of the Gerasenes (5:1). In 6:31,
      Jesus suggests they go away to a "deserted place" and they go away to a
      "deserted place" (6:32). In 5:21, it just describes them crossing again "to
      the other side." In 8:10, it just describes them coming to the region of
      Dalmanoutha. In 8:13, they are described as embarking and withdrawing "to
      the other side" and coming to Bethsaida (8:22). So it is not uncommon for
      Mark to specify the location of arrival/disembarking, but in 6:45 he
      uniquely identifies the intended destination by name before the trip ensues.
      And so, Mark's fourth sea crossing (6:45-54) uniquely has an explicitly
      named intended destination and an explicitly named actual destination. This
      suggests purposefulness on the part of Mark as opposed to an error. The
      locations of Gennesaret and Bethsaida in Mark are consistent within the
      narrative world of Mark's narrative and correspond to what we know of the
      actual locations of Gennesaret (western shore) and Bethsaida (on the other
      side from the western shore) in first-century Palestine, and therefore don't
      seem to fit any category of error that I can think of.

      Sincerely,
      Ted

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      J. Ted Blakley

      Ph.D. Candidate (New Testament)
      St Mary's College
      University of St Andrews

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