Archaeology and an obscure town mentioned in Bible
The biblical book of Mark has long been considered by scholars to be the earliest gospel written. However, one common criticism leveled against Mark is a lack of knowledge regarding the geography of Palestine, leading many to speculate that the author of Mark was not familiar with the regions about which he writes, and that he probably wrote long after the events he claims to record.
As German scholar Kümmel writes:
“[T]he considerations against this assumption [that John Mark, companion of Peter, wrote the gospel of Mark] carry weight. The author obviously has no personal knowledge of Palestinian geography, as the numerous geographical errors show.”
While Kümmel and others claim “numerous” geographical errors, the list of such errors that they cite is actually quite short. Author J.P. Holding responds to Kümmel’s claim:
“Kümmel [Kumm.Int, 97] accuses Mark of “numerous” geographical errors, but names only three: Mark 5:1 (the Gerasene swine), 7:31 (having to do with Tyre/Sidon and the Decapolis), and 10:1 (re the region of Judea). He indicates that a lack of knowledge of the geography of Palestine is against Markan authorship. In reply we may note: The “errors” are a product of the imagination.”
One criticism (not from Kümmel, but from other skeptical scholars) that J.P. Holding examines is this:
“Mark 8:10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
“So what’s wrong here? Well, Anderson [another skeptical scholar] complains that Dalmanutha is not referred to anywhere else in any extant literature…