And he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered into the swine: and the herd rushed down the steep into the sea, [in number] about two thousand; and they were drowned in the sea. (ASV)
Gerasa is about thirty miles from the Sea of Galilee. And the pigs would have to ford several rivers to get there.
Luke makes the same geographical error. Matthew tries to correct it by changing "Gerasa" to "Gadara", but that's still six miles from Galilee. --Robert Stevens 10:17, 30 Aug 2006 (CDT)
Introducing this event, Mark tells us--
"Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,..."(5:1-2).
The issue is not whether Jesus and the swine were near Geresa (or Gadara) but whether the location where Jesus landed could be called the "country of the Gadarenes." Mark clearly states that this event took place immediately after Jesus left the boat and from this, we can conclude that they were next to the water easily allowing for the events to occur as described by Mark.
Because the argument for error cannot be that Jesus could not have been in the "country of the Gadarenes." it is necessary to create a strawman argument to the effect that the city of Geresa (or Gadara) is too far from the sea to allow the swine to run into the sea. The strawman argument is misdirected and accomplishes nothing.
Edit this section to note miscellaneous facts.
JW: There's a lot of evidence that "Gerasa" is original to "Mark" but the following is mentioned only in relation to the location of "Gadara".
The next best category of evidence regarding what "Mark" wrote in 5:1 after the manuscript evidence is the Early Church Father evidence. The only early Church Father who comments in detail is Origen who was the outstanding Church Father scholar before Christianity gained control of the Roman empire. Origen indicated that no manuscripts of his time, which would have been well before the earliest extant manuscripts, had "Gergesenes" and almost all had "Gerasa". Origen also indicates in general that the manuscripts available in his time were riddled with errors as to names and places:
"24. THE NAME OF THE PLACE WHERE JOHN BAPTIZED IS NOT BETHANY, AS IN MOST COPIES, BUT BETHABARA. PROOF OF THIS. SIMILARLY "GERGESA" SHOULD BE READ FOR"GERASA," IN THE STORY OF THE SWINE. ATTENTION IS TO BE PAID TO THE PROPER NAMES IN SCRIPTURE, WHICH ARE OFTEN WRITTEN INACCURATELY, AND ARE OF IMPORTANCE FOR INTERPRETATION."
"In the matter of proper names the Greek copies are often incorrect, and in the Gospels one might be misled by their authority. The transaction about the swine, which were driven down a steep place by the demons and drowned in the sea, is said to have taken place in the country of the Gerasenes. Now, Gerasa is a town of Arabia, and has near it neither sea nor lake. And the Evangelists would not have made a statement so obviously and demonstrably false; for they were men who informed themselves carefully of all matters connected with Judaea. But in a few copies we have found, "into the country of the Gadarenes; "and, on this reading, it is to be stated that Gadara is a town of Judaea, in the neighbourhood of which are the well-known hot springs, and that there is no lake there with overhanging banks, nor any sea. But Gergesa, from which the name Gergesenes is taken, is an old town in the neighbourhood of the lake now called Tiberias, and on the edge of it there is a steep place abutting on the lake, from which it is pointed out that the swine were cast down by the demons. Now, the meaning of Gergesa is "dwelling of the casters-out," and it contains a prophetic reference to the conduct towards the Saviour of the citizens of those places, who "besought Him to depart out of their coasts." The same inaccuracy with regard to proper names is also to be observed in many passages of the law and the prophets, as we have been at pains to learn from the Hebrews, comparing our own copies with theirs which have the confirmation of the versions, never subjected to corruption, of Aquila and Theodotion and Symmachus."
JW: Note that Origen was forced to move to Caesarea so he was probably more familiar with where exactly Gadara was than Apologists. Specifically, Origen says:
"But in a few copies we have found, "into the country of the Gadarenes; "and, on this reading, it is to be stated that Gadara is a town of Judaea, in the neighbourhood of which are the well-known hot springs, and that there is no lake there with overhanging banks, nor any sea."
JW: So according to Origen the country of Gadara was specifically not on the Lake, didn't have cliffs, and wasn't even by any body of water.
Additionally, Jerome used "Gerasa" for the Vulgate presumably because in his time, like Origen's, he recognized that there was little textual support for "Gergesenes". On the other side we have no early Church Father testimony that there was any manuscript evidence in their time for "Gergesenes".
Perhaps even more amazing than Jewish demons being reluctant to participate in a Section 1031 tax free exchange of swine infested property for lake front property is that Apologists can so easily dismiss the same Patristic witness that they need to tell them what the Christian Bible was.
--JoeWallack 09:43, 4 Sep 2006 (CDT)
PIG, n. An animal (Porcus omnivorus) closely allied to the human race by the splendor and vivacity of its appetite, which, however, is inferior in scope, for it sticks at pig.
I moved this comment from Con to Neutral. Holding's referenced article does not try to defend against the claimed error here in the Pro section, that Gerasa was nowhere near the Sea of Galilee.
--JoeWallack 10:03, 9 Sep 2006 (CDT)