Critics are fond of claiming that the gospels are full of historical errors, and that they are therefore unreliable as historical documents. Today’s article focuses on an alleged error in Mark’s gospel. Let’s get started by allowing biblical scholar, Bart Ehrman, to enlighten us regarding Mark’s ineptitude as an historian:
Mark 7:3 indicates that the Pharisees ‘and all the Jews’ washed their hands before eating, so as to observe ‘the tradition of the elders.’ This is not true: most Jews did not engage in this ritual.1
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In this article, we tackle an alleged error in the Gospel of Mark. Critics point to this “error” as clear evidence that Mark’s gospel was not actually written by Mark. Let’s see if the argument is persuasive.
The passage in question is Mark 7:31, which describes the route that Jesus took on one of his travels. Here’s the verse:
Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.
Before we dive into the alleged error, it would be helpful to view Jesus’ route on a map. As you can see in figure 1, Jesus would have left the vicinity of Tyre, then travelled north, seemingly about 15-20 miles out of his way, before turning south and heading towards the region of the Decapolis. Continue reading →