The Gospel Authors Knew Palestinian Geography
by Ryan Leasure
We’re told by skeptics that eye-witnesses didn’t write the Gospels. Not only that, they say the authors wrote from distant lands like Rome, Egypt, Asia Minor, or Greece. They merely heard the stories of Jesus from others who heard the stories of Jesus from others who heard the stories of Jesus — much like the game telephone.
And as so often happens in the game of telephone, the stories got mixed up along the way. So by the time the writers penned the Gospels, they had a distorted view of Jesus, and thus we can’t know what the real Jesus said or did. Or so the argument goes.
But is that really what happened? A little thought experiment might help us answer this question. Pretend you were given the task of writing a biography on a traveling woman from Bolivia named Carla. Yet you weren’t allowed to visit Bolivia. Furthermore, you couldn’t use the internet, encyclopedias, or maps for research. Your resources would be a couple Americans who had never met Carla themselves but had heard stories about her travels.
As you undertake this project, how accurately do you think you could convey the geography and landscape of her travels? Would you really be able to give precise locations and distances? Would you know which towns had higher or lower elevations? How accurately could you describe the bodies of water she encountered? Chances are, you’d make a lot of mistakes with these details.
Well, as we think about these so-called authors from distant lands, they wouldn’t have had access to sources that could give them specific details of the Palestinian landscape. So as they wrote their stories about Jesus, we would expect them to make lots of geographic blunders much like your story on Carla. But this isn’t what we find…