May 24, 2022

The Gospel of John

by Interfaith

badger said: 

Please can you give me an example of G-JOHNs geographic accuracy?

This is from a longish exposition on the GoJ in general here:
(7) The fourth Gospel actually presents a much more consistently chronological account of Jesus’ ministry, even though that emerges not as a primary intention but as a “fringe benefit” of its desire to include material from Jesus attending the various Jerusalem festivals (which can be dated). John likewise contains more details of geography and topography than any of the Synoptics and, where he can be tested, he has consistently been shown to be accurate.

Another essay here:
The writer of John knows his stuff when it comes to Palestinian geography and topography.

In John 2:12, we read the trip from Cana to Capernaum is going down. Similarly, in John 4:46-47, it says that Jesus came again to Cana and a royal official who had a sick son in Capernaum came to him. He implores Jesus to “come down” and heal his son. The elevation of Cana is 709 feet above sea level. Capernaum is minus 682 feet. Jn 5:1 says afterward, Jesus “went up” to Jerusalem, presumably from Cana. Jerusalem has an elevation of 2575 feet.

There’s the mention of the view of Jacob’s well, which would include Mount Gerazim and cornfields. (John 4:2035) There’s even the mention of the depth of the well. (Jn 4:11)

John 5:1-3 mentions the Pool of Bethesda, which was surrounded by five covered colonnades. In the 1950s, archaeologists discovered the remains of the pool. This pool was located by the sheep gate and enclosed by five roofed colonnades.

Bethany near Jerusalem is described with spot-on precision as being 15 stadia away from the city. (Jn 11:18) This Bethany is distinguished from “Bethany beyond the Jordan.” (Jn 1:28)

The author also mentions that Jesus walked in the Colonnade of Solomon during winter. The roofed walkway would’ve protected Jesus from the cold winds. (John 10:23)

The writer also mentions that Ephraim is near the wilderness (John 11:54), the location of the Pool of Siloam (John 9:11), the dimensions of the Sea of Galilee (John 6:19), and the brook Kidron. (Jn 18:1)

In John, we find a number of small villages mentioned: Aenon, Cana, Ephraim, Salim, and Sychar.

It’s interesting to note that John was a fisherman by trade. He mentions 5 bodies of water. (Bethesda, Kidron, the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, and the Pool of Siloam.) The Synoptic writers only mention two bodies of water in comparison. (They all mention the river Jordan. Mark and Matthew mention the Sea of Galilee. Luke mentions Siloam.)

Also, John is the lone NT writer who refers to the Sea of Galilee by the name Sea of Tiberias (Jn 6:1, see also Jn 21:1). This is actually the right local usage. In the 20’s BC, King Herod finished the building of the town of Tiberias on the southwestern shore of the lake. After this, the name Sea of Tiberias started to be used for the lake itself.

And there’s an essay: Topography and Theology in the Gospel of John, 14 pages, but worth a skim, at least.


The bit I can’t find is an essay that shows how in one account the Synoptics are geographically wrong, or indicate the writer does not know the terrain, whereas John is correct. I’ll keep looking …

(Thomas May 3 2022) 

(Discussion in ‘History and Mythology‘ started by badgerMay 2, 2022)

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