Sunday, October 09, 2011

Gospel of Matthew: Geography and places

One interesting thing you can discover, studying the canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and the non-canonical gospels is the very different way in which they handle places. That is to say, Where did the events take place?

I'll introduce this question first by going over the canonical gospels, starting in this post with Matthew's Gospel. Here are some geographical places mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, roughly in the order in which they are first mentioned:
  • Babylon
  • Bethlehem
  • Judea
  • Jerusalem
  • Judah
  • Israel
  • Egypt
  • Ramah
  • Galilee
  • Nazareth
  • Jordan
  • Capernaum
  • Zebulum
  • Naphtali
  • Syria
  • Decapolis
  • Peter's house
  • Gergesenes
  • (awareness of nearby land of the Samaritans)
  • Sodom
  • Gomorrah
  • Chorazin
  • Bethsaida
  • Tyre
  • Sidon
  • Gennesaret
  • Canaan
  • Magdala
  • Caesarea Philippi
  • Jericho
  • Bethphage
  • Mount of Olives
  • Zion
  • Bethany
  • Simon the leper's house
  • Gethsemane
  • high priest's "palace"
  • the temple
  • potter's field
  • awareness of: Cyrene
  • Golgotha
  • Jesus' tomb

The places range from nations and regions to fields and houses. Jesus' movements and the disciples' movements can be plotted on a map. If you wanted to place the events on a map, sometimes you would need a wide-angle view of the map, and sometimes you'd need nearly a street view of the cities and towns at that point in history.

The point, for the moment, is this: the Gospel of Matthew is a very down-to-earth book. The events described are very much rooted in first-century Judea and the surrounding areas.

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

I think you are going somewhere with this, but the list of places, itself, is worth having. Thanks.