The exorcism of the Gadarene demoniac(s).

Matthew 8.28-34 = Mark 5.1-20 = Luke 8.26-39.

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Notes and quotes.

§ I count the following agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark:

  1. Matthew 8.28 has δαιμονιζομενοι (demoniacs). Luke 8.27 has εχων δαιμονια (who has a demon). Mark 5.2 has εν πνευματι ακαθαρτω (with an unclean spirit).
  2. Matthew 8.30 has the genitive πολλων (many) modifying χοιρων (swine). Luke 8.32 has the genitive ικανων (sufficient) modifying χοιρων. Mark 5.11 has the nominative μεγαλη (great) modifying αγελη (herd).
  3. Matthew 8.32 and Luke 8.33 both have δε where Mark 5.13 has και. A rather common agreement.
  4. Matthew 8.33 and Luke 8.34 both have δε where Mark 5.14 has και. A rather common agreement.
  5. Matthew 8.34 has the aorist εξηλθεν (went out). Luke 8.35 has the aorist ηλθον (went). Mark 5.15 has the present ερχονται (go).

§ This pericope is one of two miracles in which the recipient is doubled in Matthew but not in the other two synoptic gospels. The other is Matthew 20.29-34 = Mark 10.46-52 = Luke 18.35-43, the healing of a blind man.

§ Both Gerasa and Gadara (refer to the textual apparatus for Matthew 8.28 = Mark 5.1 = Luke 8.26) were members of the ancient Decapolis, or ten cities, referred to in Mark 5.20.

Pliny the elder, Natural History 5.30:

Iungitur ei latere Syriae Decapolitana regio, a numero oppidorum, in quo non omnes eadem observant; primum tamen Damascum epoto riguis amne Chrysorroa fertilem, Philadelphiam, Rhaphanam, omnia in Arabiam recedentia, Scythopolim, antea Nysam a Libero patre sepulta nutrice ibi, Scythis deductis, Gadara, Hieromice praefluente, et iam dictum Hippon, Dion, Pellam aquis divitem, Garasam, Canatham.

Joined up [to Judea] on the side of Syria is the Decapolitan region, so called from its number [of cities], on which not all observers agree. The first, however, is Damascus, fertilized by the river Chrysorro÷s, drawn off abundantly; Philadelphia; Rhaphana, all of which recede toward Arabia; Scythopolis, formerly [called] Nysa by the father Liber, his nurse having been buried there, [its current name] derived from Scythians; Gadara, before which the [river] Hieromix flows; and Hippo, already spoken of; Dion; Pella, rich with waters; Garasa; and Canatha.

The ten cities, then, according to Pliny the elder: Damascus, Philadelphia, Rhaphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippo, Dion, Pella, Garasa, and Canatha.

§ Josephus, Life 42, writing of the revolutionary Justus:

...εξελθων συν πασιν τουτοις εμπιπρησιν τας τε Γαδαρηνων και Ιππηνων κωμας, αι δη μεθοριοι της Τιβεριαδος και της των Σκυθοπολιτων γης ετυγχανον κειμεναι.

...he went out with all of these and kindled the villages of both Gadara and Hippo, which indeed chanced to lie on the borders of Tiberias and of Scythopolis.

Neither Gadara nor Gerasa lies on the shore of the Galilean lake in any position from which a herd of pigs could rush down a bank into the water. Gadara stands about 5 miles from the sea of Galilee, Gerasa even further (more than thirty miles away).

Note, however, that none of the synoptic evangelists suggests that the encounter with the Gadarene demoniac occurred at Gadara proper, but only in the country (χωραν) of the Gadarenes (but refer also to the textual variants in each). According to Josephus, Gadara had outlying villages bordering on Tiberias (id est, the sea of Galilee). Bruce Metzger comments on page 23 of A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament:

Josephus (Life, IX, 42) refers to Gadara as possessing territory "which lay on the frontiers of Tiberias" (= the Sea of Galilee). That this territory reached to the Sea may be inferred from the fact that ancient coins bearing the name Gadara often portray a ship.

If any of the synoptists wrote of Gerasa in connection with this exorcism, the geography is mistaken. Gadara, however, is readily defensible.