The geography of Jesus' ministry

This table highlights the geographical data provided by the Gospels

Color legend:
Brown: Jordan region
Green: Galilee (western shore of the lake)
Turquoise: Eastern shore of the lake (Decapolis / Gaulanitis)
Lavender: Jerusalem and Judea
Rose: Samaria
Orange: Phoenicia


11: 1 - 12Preaching of John, Jesus comes from Nazareth to be baptized in the Jordan + temptation in the desertJordan RegionIt must be assumed that the birthplace of Jesus is Nazareth
21: 13-20After John was betrayed, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God; call of four fishermen on the shore of sea GalileeSea of GalileeWe do not know where in Galilee, except on the shore of the sea
31: 21-34On the Sabbath, Jesus and his disciples went to the synagogue in Capernaum: exorcism; healing of Simon's mother-in-law in the house of Simon and Andrew; in the evening, many sick people were brought to him at the door of the houseCapernaumThere is no explanation why Jesus is in Capernaum, but the fact that he goes to the house of Simon and Andrew and receives sick people there seems to point to a place of residence
41: 35-45Jesus withdraws to a deserted place to pray, then travels through Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and performing exorcisms; healing of a leperGalileeWe must assume that Jesus goes to places where there is a synagogue
52: 1-12Jesus returns to Capernaum to "the house": a paralytic is lowered through the roofCapernaumWe must assume that "the house" is that of Simon and Andrew, Jesus' place of residence
62: 13 - 3: 19Jesus goes again to the seaside: calls Levi, the tax collector, and eats at his house; questions about fasting. Passing through a wheat field, the disciples plucked ears of corn: controversy about the Sabbath; healing of a man with a paralyzed hand on a Sabbath in a synagogue; on the seashore a large crowd came to him and Jesus taught from a boat; Jesus withdrew to the mountain and established the TwelveGalileeNo precise place, except the seaside; note that we are near the border of Gaulanitis with the presence of a customs officer
73: 19-35Jesus comes "home" and the great crowd prevents him from eating; his family and the scribes of Jerusalem think he is crazy or demon-possessed; word on true kinshipCapernaumReference to the residence of Peter, Andrew and Jesus, and it is there that the crowds join him
84: 1-34At the seaside, Jesus teaches the crowds while standing in a boat: parable of the sower; and once away, Jesus explains to those with him the meaning of the parable and presents other parablesGalileeVague reference to the seaside and to a remote place
94: 35 - 5: 20Jesus says to them: "Let's go to the other side" and story of the stilling of the storm; they arrive in the country of the Gerasenes and exorcism of a demoniac, scene of the pigs throwing themselves into the seaThe DecapolisWe need to assume that the starting point is the western shore; on the eastern shore are the Greek cities of the Decapolis
105: 21-43Jesus goes back to the other side in a boat and the crowds join him on the shore; healing of the daughter of Jairus and of a woman with blood lossGalileeReturn to the western shore of the sea. Once again, Mark sets the scene in the vague place of the seashore
116: 1-6Jesus comes to "his homeland" and teaches in the synagogue on the Sabbath; incomprehension of "the carpenter", the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joses, Jude and Simon, whose sisters are knownNazarethEven though the name "Nazareth" does not appear, we must assume that "his homeland" means Nazareth, because of 1:9, which states that Jesus was from Nazareth
126: 7-52Jesus travels through the surrounding villages teaching; the Twelve are sent on a mission; Herod Antipas reacts and story of John the Baptist's death; the Twelve return from their mission and retreat to a deserted place; Jesus feeds five thousand men and then forces his disciples to go by boat to the other side of the river, to Bethsaida; he walks on the waterGalileeWe must assume that "villages in the vicinity" means "from the vicinity of Capernaum," but Mark remains vague. At the end, the mention of Bethsaida, which is on the eastern shore of the sea, presupposes that the starting point is the western shore of the sea
136: 53-56After the crossing, they arrived in Gennesaret; multiple healingsGennesaretGennesaret is on the western shore, very close to Capernaum, and so there is an issue with the fact that they were on their way to Bethsaida on the eastern shore (did Mark merge carelessly two different sources?)
147: 1-23The Pharisees and some scribes from Jerusalem gather around Jesus: controversy about the traditionsGalileeMark does not specify the place of the scene
157: 24-30Jesus goes to the territory of Tyre and story of the faith of a Syro-Phoenician womanPhoeniciaJesus seems to stay in the countryside of this region
167: 31 - 8: 10Jesus travels through Sidon to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee in the Decapolis; healing of a deaf-mute; Jesus feeds four thousand men; then he goes to the region of DalmanuthaDecapolisJesus would have arrived from the north in the Decapolis; the scene where Jesus feeds the crowd for the second time must be placed in the Decapolis or Gaulanitis, because Mark does not mention any movement of Jesus; Damanutha is totally unknown
178: 11-12The Pharisees come and ask Jesus for a signGalileeWe must assume that we are on the western shore of the sea because of the following
188: 13 - 9: 1Jesus gets back into the boat and leaves for the other side, arriving at Bethsaida: healing of a blind man; confession of Peter; first announcement of the passion / resurrection; conditions to follow JesusGaulanitis (Bethsaida, Caesarea Philippi)All the scenes are logically connected and take place on the eastern side of the Jordan
199: 2-50Six days later, Jesus takes Peter, James and John and leads them away to a high mountain: transfiguration; healing of a possessed child; they cross Galilee and Jesus does not want anyone to know about it; 2nd announcement of the passion; discussion about the greatest; warning against scandalsGalileeNo place is specified at the beginning, but the introduction assumes a break with what precedes, and the rest of the chapter assumes that we are in Galilee
2010: 1-45From there, Jesus goes to the territory of Judea, beyond the Jordan: teaching on divorce; Jesus and the children; the call of the rich man; Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem; 3rd announcement of the passion; the request of James and JohnEastern bank of the Jordan RiverJesus is on his way to Jerusalem and takes the road along the Jordan on the eastern bank
2110: 46-52They arrive in Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho: healing of the blind Bartimaeus who starts to follow him on the road (to Jerusalem)JerichoJericho is in Judea, 16 miles from Jerusalem
2211: 1 - 16: 8As they approach Jerusalem, near Bethphage and Bethany, Jesus asks to fetch a colt: triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and in the evening, goes to Bethany; the next day, the fig tree is barren, vendors driven out of the temple; the next day, the fig tree is dried up; Jesus goes back and forth in the temple; parable of the murderous vinedressers; controversies : tax due to Caesar, resurrection of the dead, the first commandment, Ps 110; remark on the offering of the poor widow; sitting on the Mount of Olives, eschatological discourse of Jesus; in Bethany, two days before the Passover, in the house of Simon the leper : anointing of the woman; on the first day of unleavened bread, sending two disciples into town to prepare for the Passover; in the evening, Jesus' last meal and then retreat to the Mount of Olives-Gethsemane; Jesus' arrest; Jewish trial during the night, and in the morning, Roman trial; crucifixion at 9 a.m. and Jesus' death at 3 p.m.; burial; first day of the week, early in the morning, announcement by a young man in a white robe that Jesus has risenJerusalem and its surroundings (Bethphage, Bethany, Mount of Olives)Whereas in the previous sections the geographical framework is very vague, this section is very detailed, precise about Jesus' comings and goings, as well as about the time (evening, morning, next day, two days before Easter, the first day of unleavened bread, 9 am, noon, 3 pm)

Remarks :
  • Mark's gospel contains 16 chapters, from 1:1 to 16:8, or 663 verses. But of this number, 246 verses belong to the Judea-Jerusalem sections, which begin with the account of Bartimaeus, or more than a third of the gospel (37%), so that some consider Mark's gospel to be a passion gospel with a long introduction

  • In the Galilee sections, Mark is usually very vague about the exact location of the scene, referring only to the seaside or an isolated place

  • Apart from the sections in Judea, only a few cities are explicitly named: Nazareth, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Caesarea Philippi, and Gennesaret

  • Mark does not explain why Jesus does not return to Nazareth after his baptism, but suddenly presents him as a resident in the house of Peter and Andrew in Capernaum

  • Mark places a number of Jesus' activities in Capernaum:
    • Healings: an exorcism on the Sabbath (1:23-28); healing of Simon's mother-in-law (1:29-31) and of a paralytic who was lowered through the roof of the house (2:3-12); many healings and exorcisms in the evening at the house door (1:33)
    • Teaching in the synagogue (1: 21)
    • It is at his residence in Capernaum that his family from Nazareth comes to meet him to try to make him see reason



13: 1 - 12Jesus appears in the desert of Judea; Jerusalem, the whole of Judea and the whole region of the Jordan River come to him; the Pharisees and Sadducees are called to conversion; announcement of a stronger one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit and in fireJudean DesertThe reference to the Judean desert is surprising, especially if Matthew knew Mark's text; the place includes Qumran
23: 13 - 4: 11Jesus appears, coming from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized; Jesus is led into the desert to undergo the devil's trial.Jordan regionAfter the reference to the Judean desert, Matthew places the action in the Jordan, and in the temptation scene that follows, he speaks only of a desert place, without knowing whether the region has changed
34: 12-17When Jesus heard that John had been betrayed, he withdrew to Galilee and left Nazara to live in Capernaum; Jesus began to proclaim that the kingdom of God was nearCapernaumMatthew is much clearer: the adventure with John the Baptist is over with his arrest, and Jesus leaves Nazareth to make Capernaum his main residence
44: 18-25As he walked along the Sea of Galilee, he called his first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James and John, and went around Galilee teaching in their synagogues and performing healings. Large crowds from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan, followed him.GalileeAlthough one can imagine that "by the sea" was not far from Capernaum, Matthew does not mention it; the emphasis is on Galilee
55: 1 - 8: 4At the sight of the crowds, Jesus goes up the mountain to teach: sermon on the mountain; descent from the mountain and healing of a leperGalileeVague mention of a mountain to refer to Sinai
68: 5-17Jesus enters Capernaum: healing of the centurion's servant; he heals Peter's mother-in-law; in the evening, many demon-possessed are brought to him and Jesus heals all the sickCapernaumMark ignores this scene with the centurion from source Q; the centurion was probably one of Herod Antipas' troops
78: 18-34Seeing great crowds around him, Jesus gave the order to go to the other side; story of the stilling of the storm; arrival in the country of the Gadarenes: exorcism of a demoniac, scene of the pigs throwing themselves into the seaLand of the Gadarenes (Decapolis)From the above, the starting point is Capernaum; on the eastern shore are the Greek cities of the Decapolis, including Gadara (Mark speaks rather of the Gerasenes)
89: 1-34Jesus gets into the boat, crosses the sea again and comes to "his city": healing of a paralytic; "as he was leaving", Jesus saw a tax collector, Matthew, whom he calls to follow him; meal at Matthew's house; controversy about fasting with the disciples of J.B.; resuscitation of the daughter of an important man and healing of a woman with haemorrhages; healing of two blind men in "the house"; healing of a possessed muteCapernaumWe must assume that "his city" now means Capernaum. Everything seems to take place in Capernaum, either by the mention of "his house", or by the expression "as he went away" without mentioning a change of city
99: 35 - 12: 45Jesus goes through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the kingdom of God and healing every disease; the Twelve are sent on mission; discourse on the mission; after this discourse, Jesus goes to teach and preach in their towns; Jesus answers to the envoys of J.B.; the disciples went through the fields and plucked the ears of corn; controversy about the Sabbath; in a synagogue, healing of the man whose hand was paralyzed on the Sabbath; Jesus withdrew and asked not to be known; healing of a blind and mute man, and accusation of being in the pay of Beelzebub; request for a sign by the scribes and Pharisees.GalileeA long series of scenes where the location is vaguely Galilee in general
1012: 46-50While he was still speaking to the crowds, behold, his mother and brothers stood "outside" trying to speak to him; Jesus' words about the true familyCapernaumThe city is not named, but the word "outside" can only mean: outside the house. The phrase "as he was still speaking" connects this location with what precedes. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing when this speech in the house begins, especially since a few verses earlier Jesus does not want us to know where he is.
1113: 1-35On that day, Jesus left the house and sat down by the sea: discourse in parablesGalileeA rare scene in Matthew that takes place by the sea
1213: 36-53Leaving the crowds, Jesus comes to "the house" and his disciples ask to explain the parables: explanation of the parables and presentation of other parablesCapernaumThe expression "the house" designates the residence of Jesus, Peter and Andrew, and symbolically, the Christian community where the parables are actualized
1313: 54-58Having come to "his country", Jesus teaches in the synagogue: incomprehension in front of "the carpenter's son", the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Jude and Simon, and whose sisters are knownNazarethEven though the name "Nazareth" does not appear, it must be assumed that "his home" means Nazareth, because of 4:13 where Jesus abandons Nazareth to settle in Capernaum
1414: 1-21Death of J.B. At this news, Jesus withdraws from there in a boat to a deserted place, but when he disembarks, he sees a great crowd: Jesus feeds five thousand menGalileeIt is impossible to locate the place, except that it is on the seashore; but since there is no mention of a trip to "the other side", we must assume that we remain on the western side of the sea
1514: 22 - 15: 20Jesus forces the disciples to get back into the boat and to go before him to the other side: walking on the water and confession of the disciples; arrival at Gennesaret and many healings; controversy with the scribes and the Pharisees about the traditionsGalileeMatthew partially corrects Mark's inconsistency by deleting the mention of Bethsaida as the destination of the crossing, but forgets to delete the mention of "the other shore" as well, since Gennesaret is on the same western shore as the previous scene.
1615: 21-28From there, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon and the story of the faith of a Canaanite womanPhoeniciaThe Phoenicians called themselves Canaanites (Mark speaks of a Syro-Phoenician)
1715: 29 - 16: 4From there, Jesus went to the shores of the Sea of Galilee and went up into the mountains and sat down; sick people came to him; Jesus fed four thousand men; the Pharisees and Sadducees asked for a signGalileeWhile Mark specifies that Jesus returns from the Phoenicians to the eastern shore of the sea, in Decapolis, Matthew ignores this detail: according to the context, we must assume that Jesus returns to Galilee, i.e. the western shore of the sea
1816: 5-28On the other side of the river, the disciples forget to take bread: discourse on the leaven of the Pharisees; arrival in the region of Caesarea Philippi: confession of Peter; announcement of the passion / resurrection; conditions for following JesusGaulanitis (Caesarea Philippi)Matthew has eliminated Mark's arrival in Bethsaida and the somewhat folksy (requiring a few steps) healing of a blind man, so that we find ourselves abruptly in Caesarea Philippi, 25 miles north of the sea
1917: 1-23Six days later, Jesus takes Peter, James and John and leads them away to a high mountain: transfiguration; healing of a lunatic; as they were gathered in Galilee, Jesus makes his 2nd passion announcementGalileeNo place is specified at the beginning, but the introduction assumes a break with what precedes, and the rest of the chapter assumes that we are in Galilee
2017: 24 - 18: 35As they had arrived in Capernaum: question about the temple tax and discourse on community life: the question of the greatest, warning against scandals, guide on the lost sheep, brotherly correction, community prayer, forgiveness between brothersCapernaumMatthew makes a point of placing the mini-canonical law on community life in Capernaum, because that is where "the house" is, the symbol of the Church
2119: 1 - 20: 28From there, Jesus goes to the territory of Judea, beyond the Jordan: teaching on divorce; Jesus and the children; the call of the rich man; the workers of the eleventh hour; Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem; 3rd announcement of the passion; the request of James and JohnEastern bank of the Jordan RiverJesus is on his way to Jerusalem and takes the road along the Jordan on the eastern bank
2220: 29-34As they came out of Jericho: healing of two blind men who follow him on the road (to Jerusalem)JerichoJericho is in Judea, 15 miles from Jerusalem
2321, 1 - 27, 66When they approach Jerusalem, near Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, Jesus asks them to fetch a donkey and a colt: triumphal entry into Jerusalem; sellers chased out of the temple; the barren fig tree; question of Jesus' authority, parables of the two sons, of the revolting tenant farmers, of the wedding feast; controversies: tax due to Caesar, resurrection of the dead, the first commandment, Ps 110; invective against the Pharisees; eschatological discourse; parables of the ten virgins, the talents, and the last judgment; at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper : anointing of the woman; the first day of unleavened bread, sending two disciples into town to prepare for the Passover; in the evening, Jesus' last meal and then retreat to the Mount of Olives-Gethsemane; arrest of Jesus; Jewish trial in the night; death of Judas; in the morning, Roman trial; crucifixion; death of Jesus around 3pm and apocalyptic scene; burial; guarding the tomb; first day of the week, the angel of the Lord rolls away the stone and sits on it, announces the resurrection and asks to go to GalileeJerusalem and its surroundings (Bethphage, Bethany, Mount of Olives)Matthew eliminates many of Mark's details about Jesus' whereabouts, especially the time details
2428: 16-30The eleven disciples go to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had ordered them to go; sending the disciples on a missionGalileeThe location in Galilee is not specified, but for Matthew the important thing is the mountain, associated with Sinai

Remarks :
  • In general, Matthew follows Mark's geography beginning with the baptism in Trans-Jordan, Jesus' ministry primarily in Galilee, with forays into Phoenicia and Decapolis / Gaulatinitis, but less frequently, and the end of his career in and around Jerusalem.

  • Matthew is very clear about Capernaum: after the arrest of J.B., he decides to make the residence of Peter and Andrew in Capernaum his "headquarters", leaving Nazareth and his family environment; Matthew will speak of Capernaum as "his city" (9:1). Then, while in Mark three sections (3, 5, 7) take place in Capernaum, in Matthew there are six sections (3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20):
    • the beginning of his mission (4, 12-17);
    • the healing of the centurion's servant (a scene known to Luke and John with a variation), of Simon's mother-in-law, and a healing session in the evening (8:5-17);
    • healing of a paralyzed man lying on a stretcher, resuscitation of the daughter of a nobleman and healing of a woman with hemorrhages, healing of two blind men in "the house", healing of a possessed mute, as well as the encounter with Matthew the customs officer and his call to follow him (9, 1-34);
    • it is in his house in Capernaum that his family from Nazareth comes to see him (12:46-50; but Matthew has eliminated his negative judgment of Jesus found in Mark);
    • It is in this house in Capernaum that the disciples receive private instruction on the parables, an echo of what will be the first Christian communities (13:36-53);
    • it is in Capernaum that Matthew asks the question whether Jesus and his disciples (i.e. the Christians) still have to pay the temple tax, and places a discourse on the different aspects of community life (17: 24 - 18: 35); Matthew seems to make Capernaum, and in particular Jesus' residence with Peter and Andrew, the prototype of Church life.

  • While Mark set several scenes on the seaside, Matthew preferred to repatriate most of these scenes to Capernaum

  • Unfortunately, Matthew appears to have little knowledge of the geography of Palestine in general, and Galilee in particular: he does not seem to know where Gennesaret is (14:22 - 15:20), so he repeats Mark's text where Jesus asks to "go to the other side", whereas Gennesaret, the point of arrival, is on the same shore, 1.9 mile away (at least Mark's text speaks of going to Bethsaida, which is indeed on the other side of the sea); on the way back from the region of Tyre (15:29 - 16:4), he ignores all the details in Mark of the arrival from the north on the eastern shore of the sea, so that we end up vaguely on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, then in the mountains, which means that the two scenes where Jesus feeds the crowd seem to be in the same place (and we lose all the symbolism of Mark of a Jewish meal on the eastern shore, and a Greek one on the western shore). Finally, Matthew seems to ignore the existence of Bethsaida, which appears only in a general reference from the Q source (11:21).



13: 1 - 4: 13In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar's government... the word of God came to John in the wilderness; he comes to the whole Jordan region proclaiming a baptism of conversion; conversion guidelines; announcement of the one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire; J.B. is thrown into prison by Herod; baptism of Jesus; genealogy of Jesus; he returns from the Jordan and was in the wilderness tempted by the devilJordan River and surrounding desertThe desert and the Jordan are mentioned without specifying the exact place; it is not in Galilee, because the arrival in Galilee will be specified in 4:14
24: 14-15With the power of the Spirit, Jesus returns to Galilee; he teaches in their synagoguesGalileeJesus seems to visit several synagogues in Galilee
34: 16-30He comes to Nazara where he had been raised and goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath: inaugural speech with a citation from Is 61:1; his fellow citizens throw him out of the cityNazareth"The city where he was raised" means that for Luke Jesus is from Nazareth; in his own way, he means here the rejection of his own people
44: 31-41He went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath: healing of a man with an unclean demon spirit; healing of Simon's mother-in-law; many healings in the eveningCapernaumIn Luke, Jesus seems to go to Capernaum, as to any town in Galilee, and no mention of a place of residence
54: 42-44When it was daylight, Jesus went to a deserted place; then he preached in the synagogues of JudeaGalileeThe mention of Judea is surprising, but the word probably means "land of the Jews" in this scene, and this would include Galilee, which is also the case in 7:17 and 23:5; there is sometimes a certain carelessness in Luke's vocabulary
65: 1-11He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret and saw two boats on the lake: miraculous fishing and Simon, James and John were called.Galilee (lakeside)This scene interrupts the above. Note that Luke calls "lake" what the other evangelists call "sea".
75: 12-26While he was in one of these towns: healing of a leper; while he was teaching: healing of a paralyzed man on a stretcherGalileeResumption of section 5 interrupted by section 6. Luke sets the scenes in unidentified places in Galilee
85: 27-39After this, Jesus "went out" and saw Levi, a tax collector: call and festive meal at his house; question about fasting; parable about the old and the newCapernaum?How to interpret the verb "he went out", if not by a reference to the house in Capernaum; but this remains pure conjecture
96: 1-11On a second Sabbath of the first month, as he passed through the wheat fields, his disciples were plucking ears of corn: controversy about the Sabbath; on another Sabbath, he entered "the" synagogue and taught: healing of a man whose hand was paralyzed on a SabbathGalileeWe go from the wheat fields to "the" synagogue; which synagogue is it? It will be tempting to identify "the" with the one in Capernaum; but Luke does not do so
106: 12-49Jesus goes to the mountain to pray and on the day of the Sabbath chooses twelve apostles; then he goes down to a flat place with a large crowd from all Judea, Jerusalem and the coast of Tyre and Sidon: he heals and presents his great discourse (beatitudes, love of enemies, etc)GalileeLuke places the great discourse of the disciple's charter in a flat place (near the people), which Matthew places on a mountain (Sermon on the Mount), like Sinai
117: 1 - 10Jesus enters Capernaum: healing of the centurion's slaveCapernaumThe story is also known by Matthew and with a variant in John
127: 11-35Jesus goes to a town called Nain: resuscitation of the widow's son; J.B. has questions on Jesus; discussions about J.B.NainOnly Luke mentions this city. The following on J.B. must be linked to the same section, since the scene at Nain is a reference to Elijah
137: 36 - 8: 18A Pharisee invited him to eat with him: a sinner bathes Jesus' feet with tears and pours out perfume; then Jesus went through towns and villages proclaiming the gospel; parable of the seed and its explanationGalileeThe place of the meal with the Pharisee is not specified, and so it must be located in the vague place of Galilee, as is the mention of the towns and villages that follows
148: 19-21His mother and brothers come to him... he is told: your mother and your brothers are standing "outside": the true family of JesusCapernaum?How can we interpret "outside" if not by assuming "outside his place of residence". But Luke does not explicitly name Capernaum
158: 22-39Jesus gets into a boat with his disciples: "Let's go to the other side of the lake": the stilling of the storm; arrival in the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee: healing of a possessed person and story of the drowning of the pigsLand of the Gerasenes (Decapolis)Mark speaks of Gerasenes, and Matthew of Gadarenes
168: 40 - 9: 9On his return, Jesus was welcomed by the crowd: resuscitation of the daughter of Jairus and healing of the woman with hemorrhages; sending of the Twelve on missionGalileeWhere to locate this "return"? We have located section 14 in Capernaum without Luke explicitly naming this city. So it is better to keep the vague location of "Galilee".
179: 10-27Jesus takes the disciples and withdraws to a town called Bethsaida, and when the crowds hear about it, they follow him: Jesus feeds five thousand men; as he was praying in a secluded place: Peter's confession, conditions for following JesusBethsaidaLuke has only one scene of Jesus feeding the crowd, while Mark has two, which he divides between the two shores of the lake, and Matthew two, which he seems to locate in the same place on the western shore. Unlike Mark and Matthew, Luke does not mention Caesarea Philippi, so that Peter's confession seems to be located in the vicinity of Bethsaida
189: 28-50About eight days after these words, Jesus took Peter, John and James with him and went up the mountain to pray: account of the transfiguration; the next day, he came down from the mountain: healing of a possessed child; 2nd announcement of the passion; question about the greatestGalileeAfter eight days, we must assume that Jesus has left Bethsaida, but Luke presents no transition; we find ourselves in a vague place where there is a mountain
199: 51 - 17: 20When the time came for him to be taken out of the world, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem... his messengers entered a village of Samaritans to prepare for his coming; but they did not welcome him because he was on his way to Jerusalem; conditions for following Jesus; mission of the seventy-two; revelation to the little ones; parable of the good Samaritan; account of Martha and Mary; teaching on prayer and persistence; accusation of being an agent of Beelzebub; requesting signs; attack on the Pharisees; openly confessing the Son of Man; parable of the rich fool and providence; parables on watchfulness; discerning the signs of the times; urgency of conversion; parable of the barren fig tree; healing of a crippled woman on the Sabbath; parable of the mustard seed and the leaven; healing of a hydropic man on the Sabbath; parables : the guests replaced by the poor, the found sheep, the found coin, the found son, the skillful manager, the rich man and Lazarus; the servant who only did his dutyGalileeFrom this point on, Jesus will be on the road to Jerusalem for nine chapters; it is a symbolic road, for there is no real physical progress, except for the repetition of "as they went" (10:38; 13:22; 17:11). Luke has placed here a long list of teachings concerning the Christian life. It is difficult to locate this section, for there is first mention of going through Samaria, but the refusal of a Samaritan village seems to send the disciples back to Galilee. We will return to Samaria a little later. Throughout this section, there is no mention of an actual move
2017: 11 - 18: 34As Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem he passed through "Samaria and Galilee". When he entered a village: healing of ten lepers; teaching on the coming of the kingdom of God; parables of the long-suffering judge and the Pharisee and the tax collector; the example of the children; renouncing wealth to enter the kingdom; 3rd announcement of the passionSamariaThe expression "Samaria and Galilee" is somewhat erroneous, for it should be understood as "Galilee and Samaria" in a north-south movement. A geographical ignorance on the part of Luke? In any case, since Jerusalem seems to be close by, we should probably imagine that Luke wants to place us in Samaria
2118: 35 - 19: 28As he approached Jericho: healing of a blind man; when he entered Jericho, Jesus went through the city: story about Zacchaeus; Jesus added a parable because he was near Jerusalem and people thought that the Kingdom of God was going to manifest itself immediately: parable of the minesJericho and its surroundingsSince Luke wants to place the scene with Zacchaeus, the model of the true Christian, in Jericho (as Mark did with Bartimaeus, who grasps the meaning of the cross), he must move the healing of the blind man before arriving in Jericho. Jericho corresponds to the end of Jesus' ministry.
2219: 29 - 23: 56Jesus approaches Bethphage and Bethany, towards the Mount of Olives, Jesus asks to fetch a colt: triumphal entry into Jerusalem; announcement of the punishment on Jerusalem; sellers driven out of the temple; as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple, the chief priests, scribes and elders question Jesus about his authority; parable of the murderous vinedressers; controversies : tax due to Caesar, resurrection of the dead, Ps 110; remark on the offering of the poor widow; talk about the temple and its beautiful stones: Jesus' eschatological discourse; Jesus spent the day in the Temple teaching and went out to spend the night on the Mount of Olives; Judas' plot; sending two disciples to the city to prepare for the Passover; Jesus' last meal in the evening and then withdrawal to the Mount of Olives; Jesus' arrest; denial of Peter and brief Jewish trial in the morning, then trial before Herod and Pilate; crucifixion; dialogue between the two criminals and prayer of one of them; and death of Jesus at 3 p.m.; burial; the women who had accompanied him from Galilee prepare the spices and perfumesJerusalem and its surroundings (Bethphage, Bethany, Mount of Olives)Luke gives a little less detail about Jesus' comings and goings, eliminates some scenes that he probably considers folkloric, such as that of the barren fig tree, reorganizes Peter's denial into a single scene or the Jewish trial, which he places in the morning instead of at night, and adds scenes such as that of the "good thief".
2324: 1 - 53On the first day of the week, early in the morning, the women find the stone rolled away and the tomb without a body, and two men in dazzling clothes who announce that he has risen; they report all this to the Eleven; Peter runs to the tomb to ascertain the facts; account of the disciples of Emmaus; appearance of Jesus to the Eleven; Jesus takes his disciples to Bethany and is taken up to heaven, blessing themJerusalem and its surroundings (Emmaus, about 7 miles away and Bethany, 1.9 mile away)Even if the place is the same, Luke's solemn introduction forces us to create a special section. For Luke, the experience of the risen Jesus takes place in the same place and on the same day (unity of place and time). With Peter going to the empty tomb and Jesus' appearance on the same day, Luke seems to be using a tradition that John the evangelist also knows. Why Bethany as the place of Jesus' departure? Probably because it is one of the highest places in the area.

Remarks :
  • A remarkable point in Luke concerns the town of Capernaum: it is a town of no interest to him. It becomes the scene of a story only twice, first, when Jesus returns from his inaugural teaching in Nazareth, without us knowing why he goes to Capernaum, and second, in the account of the centurion of Capernaum, an account he receives from Q Document. Never does he inform us, as Mark and Matthew do, that Jesus was staying in the house of Simon and Andrew, and never does he mention that Jesus made his "headquarters" there.

  • In Galilee only two cities receive special attention. First, there is Nazareth, where Jesus "was brought up" in his own words, to make it the place of his inaugural speech and mission program, but at the same time to reflect the rejection by his own people; then there is Bethsaida, where Jesus is said to have fed five thousand men, merging the two accounts of Mark and following a tradition known also to John, where the scene takes place on the eastern shore of the lake. He completely ignores Mark's account of the Syro-Phoenician woman, which takes place in the region of Tyre. Likewise, he completely ignores Caesarea Philippi where Mark, followed by Matthew, places Peter's confession, so that one has the impression that this confession takes place in the region of Bethsaida.

  • Most of the time Luke is content to locate his stories loosely in Galilee, as if geography were of no great importance to him. Even the mention of the lake shore is rare and occurs only in his own account of a miraculous catch (5:1), an account that seems to have the same source as the miraculous catch in Jn 21. He is often content to accumulate stories and speeches, without Jesus moving around much physically. The extreme case is that of the long journey to Jerusalem, where he places an extended series of sayings and actions of Jesus, many of which are his own.

  • Yet Luke is the champion of the expression "to go on the road", i.e. to walk. He intentionally created the long ascent of Jesus to Jerusalem from 9:51 to 19:29. Similarly, the disciples on the road to Emmaus will meet Jesus on the way. The Christian life is a journey.

  • Was Luke familiar with the geography of Palestine in general, and of Galilee in particular? He sometimes offers remarks that seem to indicate some knowledge, like the one about the country of the Gerasenes "which is opposite Galilee." Is this from his pen or from a source? Moreover, he had sufficient knowledge of the Lake of Galilee, which he calls "Lake of Gennesaret", to refuse to refer to it as a sea, as all the other evangelists do, since he was familiar with the Mediterranean Sea. But on the other hand, he writes erroneous things like the fact that Jesus passed through "Samaria and Galilee" when he was heading south and should have said "Galilee and Samaria", or better "Samaria" simply, or his preference to speak of Judea as the land of the Jews, not as a specific region of southern Palestine. It is possible that he crossed out the name Caesarea Philippi because he did not know where this place could be found. Most of the time, he prefers to situate his scenes loosely in Galilee. To say the least, he is not very interested in geographical precision.



11: 1-51Prologue; this is John's testimony to the priests and Levites of Jerusalem: I am not the messiah... in the midst of you stands the one you do not know; this was in Bethany, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing; the next day he sees Jesus: behold the lamb of God; the next day, in the same place, he sees Jesus: The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee and found Philip: follow me; Philip went to find Nathanael: we have found the one of whom the Scriptures speak, that is Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.Beyond the Jordan River (Bethany)This place of Bethany is different from the one near Jerusalem; it is probably Bethabara, near the place where the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea. Let us note that for the evangelist John, the choice of the first disciples is not made on the shores of the Lake of Galilee, but at the place where J.B. was baptizing, and thus it is disciples of the Baptist that Jesus recruits. Note also that for the evangelist, Jesus is from Nazareth.
22: 1-11On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee: they ran out of wine, Jesus' mother intervened, Jesus acted; the signs of Jesus beganCana (Galilee)The transition is abrupt, since in the previous section Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and we find ourselves in Cana 3 days later, without knowing Jesus' home port; with the evangelist's silence, we must assume that Jesus has returned to Nazareth with his family, since this family is also at the wedding.
32: 12After that, he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers and his disciples, but they stayed there only a few days.CapernaumWhy go to Capernaum with his family and disciples? No clue is given.
42: 13 - 3: 21The Passover of the Jews was near and Jesus went up to Jerusalem: he drove out the merchants and moneychangers from the temple; while he stayed in Jerusalem during the Passover, many believed in his name because of the signs he performed; conversation with NicodemusJerusalemThe evangelist departs from Mark's tradition in two respects: Jesus goes to Jerusalem several times during his ministry, and the scene of the sellers being driven out of the temple takes place at the beginning of his ministry, not at the end.
53: 22-36After that, Jesus went with his disciples to the country of Judea, stayed with them and baptized, while J.B. baptized in Aenon, not far from Salim: discussion of a Jew with the disciples of the Baptist about the baptismal success of Jesus; reaction of J.B.; words of Jesus about the One who comes from aboveJudeaThe mention of Judea is surprising, because we were in the city of Jerusalem, which is in Judea. So we have to assume that Jesus is doing his work somewhere in the countryside or desert of Judea. Let us note that Aenon and Salim where J.B. baptized is in Samaria.
64: 1-42Since the Pharisees knew that he was making more disciples and baptizing more people than J.B., Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee. But he had to cross Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria, Sychar, where Jacob's well is located: conversation with the Samaritan womanSychar (Samaria)Many details that show a knowledge of the place: to go from Judea to Galilee, one must pass through Samaria if one takes the inland road, not the Jordan; Sychar is located on this road; reference to Jacob's well
74: 43-54Two days later, Jesus left Sychar for Galilee, and the Galileans welcomed him because of what they had seen in Jerusalem; so he arrived in Cana: healing at a distance of the dying son of a royal officer in Capernaum; this was the second sign that Jesus accomplished when he returned from Judea to GalileeCana (Galilee)Why does Jesus return to Cana? The evangelist seems to identify Cana with Jesus' return to Galilee, which suggests a kind of home port; in this he differs from the Synoptics who place Jesus' home port at Capernaum. Note that this healing scene is the equivalent of the healing of the centurion's servant/slave found in Matthew and Luke
85: 1-47After that, and on the occasion of a Jewish feast, Jesus went up to Jerusalem: healing of a paralytic at the pool of Beth-zatha, which had five porticoes; discourse of Jesus on the power of the Son and on the testimoniesJerusalemThe name Beth-zatha means: house of the two pools, because the facility consisted of two large pools, which allowed for five porticoes, four porticoes surrounding each side of the large square formed by the two pools together, and the middle portico to separate the two pools; this pool was exhumed during the restoration of the church of St. Anne in Jerusalem
96: 1-15After that, Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called Tiberias. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down with his disciples. It was shortly before the Passover: Jesus fed five thousand people.Eastern shore of the Sea of GalileeThe transition is very abrupt with what precedes: we were in Jerusalem and suddenly the evangelist refers to the passage to the other side. We must assume that Jesus had returned to Galilee, and more specifically, to the western shore, since in the next section he goes to Capernaum. Note that in Luke the only scene in which Jesus feeds the crowd takes place around Bethsaida, on the eastern shore
106: 16-71The next day, coming from Tiberias, other boats had arrived at the place where they had eaten the bread... the people got back into the small boats and went to Capernaum: discourse on the bread of life... these were the teachings of Jesus, in the synagogue, in Capernaum.CapernaumThis is the only activity in this gospel associated with Capernaum, more precisely the synagogue of Capernaum.
117: 1 - 9Afterwards, Jesus continued to travel through Galilee; he preferred not to go through Judea where the Jews were trying to destroy him. However, the Jewish festival of the Tents was near. His brothers encouraged Jesus to go to Jerusalem. "My time has not yet come," Jesus replies. After he had said this, Jesus remained in Galilee.GalileeWhere to place this scene? The evangelist tells us that Jesus is traveling through Galilee, but at the same time he is in dialogue with his brothers who were to stay in Nazareth. The scene is disconcerting in that Jesus shows his intention not to go to Jerusalem, but will go later (see the parallel with the scene about the death of Lazarus).
127: 10 - 10: 21But when his brothers had left for the Feast of Tabernacles, he set out unseen; about the middle of the Feast, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach: the source of his teaching; on the last day of the Feast, Jesus stood in the Temple: whoever is thirsty, let him come to me; in the evening Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives and at daybreak he returns to the Temple to teach: story of the adulterous woman; Jesus light of the world; Jesus announces his departure; discourse on the true seed of Abraham; as he passed by, Jesus saw a man who was blind from birth: healing of a blind man and various reactions; parable of the shepherdJerusalem and its surroundingsThe Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated in September, at the time of the harvest, and lasted eight days; it recalled God's salvific action during the Exodus, while giving thanks for the year's harvest. The evangelist confirms what the Synoptics say about Jesus' habit of sleeping on the Mount of Olives and teaching in the temple during the day
1310: 22-39The feast of the Dedication was celebrated in Jerusalem. It was winter. In the temple, Jesus went back and forth under Solomon's portico: accusation of blasphemy against JesusJerusalem (temple)We must assume that after the previous section, Jesus returned to Galilee. But the evangelist does not mention this and suddenly transports us to the same place three months later. The Feast of Dedication, also called Hanukkah, was celebrated at the end of December and commemorated the restoration of the Temple after the victory of Judas Maccabeus over Antiochus IV Epiphanes
1410: 40 - 11: 16Jesus went back beyond the Jordan, where John had begun to baptize, and he stayed there. When he knew that Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed two more days in the place where he was... and then he said to the disciples, "Let us return to Judea. The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, only recently the Jewish authorities sought to stone you, and you want to go back there? Then Thomas, the one called Didymus, said to the other disciples, "Let us also go and die with him."Beyond the Jordan River, where John had begun to baptizeThis is the place that John called Bethany in 1:28 and that we identified with Bethabara in our section 1. Note that the context is one where Jesus is sought to be arrested, and so it is a strategic retreat.
1511: 17-45When Jesus arrived (in Bethany), he found Lazarus in the tomb; he had already been there for four days: the resuscitation of LazarusBethany (Judea)Bethany, today called al-Azariya (the place of Lazarus) is located 1.9 mile east of Jerusalem
1611: 46-54Jesus withdraws to a town called Ephraim, near the desert, and refrains from openly circulating; during this time, Jesus is tried (in absentia) by the Sanhedrin of JerusalemEphraim (Judea)Ephraim is located about 12 miles north of Jerusalem; it is the second strategic retreat of Jesus. Note that in John's book the real Jewish trial and death sentence of Jesus takes place before his arrest
1711: 55 - 12: 11Now it was soon the Jewish Passover. On the eve of this Passover, many people went up from the countryside to Jerusalem to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus. The chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where he was was to report him so that he could be seized. Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany where a meal was being served in honor of Lazarus, and Martha served: anointing of Jesus' feet with an expensive perfume by Mary. A crowd of Judeans learn that Jesus is there and go to Bethany to see him and Lazarus; decision of the authorities to kill Lazarus as well.Bethany (Judea)Jesus returns to Bethany from Ephraim, a return that we imagine to be discreet. Mark, followed by Matthew, also offers us a scene of Jesus anointing his feet in Bethany with an expensive perfume, but the woman is not identified, and the scene takes place at the home of Simon the leper; as for Luke, the woman is a sinner and the scene takes place during a meal at the home of a Pharisee in an unidentified place in Galilee
1812: 12-36aThe next day, the great crowd that had come to the feast learned that Jesus was arriving in Jerusalem: triumphal arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem; request of the Greeks to see Jesus and speech on the necessity of the grain of wheat to die in order to bear fruitJerusalemContrary to the Synoptics, Jesus does not send for a colt, but one seems to appear by chance; for John, this triumphal entry is linked to the resuscitation of Lazarus, which the people witnessed, and which anticipates his own resurrection
1912: 36b-50After having spoken to them in this way, Jesus withdrew and hid himself from them. Epilogue on unbelief and the conditions of true faith.Unknown place in JudeaJohn simply says that Jesus hides, without any other precision. This is Jesus' third strategic withdrawal.
2013: 1 - 17: 36Before the feast of Passover, Jesus has a last meal with his disciples: washing of the disciples' feet; announcement of the betrayal of one of the disciples; new commandment; Jesus, the way to the Father; the promise of the Spirit; Jesus is the true vine; hatred of the world; the work of the Spirit; going from affliction to joy; victory over the world; Jesus' great prayerJudeaWhere does this last meal of Jesus with his disciples take place? One could assume that it takes place in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, John does not specify it, and since in the previous section Jesus was hiding, it is better to respect the evangelist's silence. Note that, unlike the Synoptics, this is a farewell meal, not a Passover meal; in that year, Passover fell on the same day as the Sabbath (from Friday evening to Saturday evening), and so the Passover meal was to be taken on Friday evening at sunset. Therefore, this meal taken on Thursday night cannot be a Passover meal.
2118: 1 - 19: 42Having said this, Jesus went with his disciples beyond the torrent of Kidron, where there was a garden: Jesus' arrest; interrogation by the high priest Annas; Peter's denial; trial before Pilate; Jesus' crucifixion; scene of Jesus' mother and the beloved disciple; Jesus' death and the piercing of his side; burialJerusalem and its surroundingsThe evangelist shows an amazing knowledge of the Kidron's torrent and its garden. The questioning is done by Annas, not by Caiaphas as in Matthew (Annas, who is the father-in-law of Caiaphas, was high priest from 6 to 15, but still bore the title, without exercising the role).
2220: 1 - 31On the first day of the week, at dawn, while it was still dark: discovery of the empty tomb by Mary Magdalene; account of Peter and the beloved disciple at the tomb; meeting of Mary Magdalene with Jesus; on the evening of the same day, meeting of Jesus with his disciples; eight days later, second meeting of Jesus with his disciples and reaction of ThomasJerusalemJohn shares with Luke a tradition where the encounter with the risen Jesus is not in Galilee, but in Jerusalem, and on the same day that the empty tomb is found
2321: 1-25After that, Jesus manifested himself again to the disciples on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias: story of the miraculous catch and sharing of the meal; Simon Peter receives his pastoral charge; destiny of Simon Peter and the beloved discipleSea of TiberiasHere again, with this miraculous fishing, we are faced with a tradition shared by both Luke (5:1-11) and John: for Luke it takes place on the shores of Lake Gennesaret, for John on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias.

Remarks :
  • John is the evangelist who shows the best knowledge of the geography of Palestine: first, he is the one who names the most different cities, such as Bethany-Bethabara, Bethany-Jerusalem, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum, Jerusalem, Ainon, Salim, Sychar, Ephraim; second, he is able to correctly locate Galilee, Samaria, and Judea, so that he knows that if one starts from Judea to go to Galilee by the inland road, one must pass through Samaria; finally, he adds a number of details about certain places as if he knew them personally, for example the five-porticoed pool of Beth-zatha, confirmed by archaeology, the pool of Siloam, Jacob's well at Sychar, the torrent of Kidron towards the Mount of Olives and its garden, the proximity of Bethany to Jerusalem, so that the Jews of Jerusalem can easily go there.

  • This is the gospel where Jesus spends the most time in Judea. Unlike the Synoptics where Jesus goes to Jerusalem only once, at the end of his ministry, to die there, Jesus makes several visits to Jerusalem, more precisely four. Moreover, out of the 2,125 verses of his gospel, 639 verses take place in Jerusalem, that is to say almost a third of the gospel.

  • The city of Capernaum occupies a minimal place in his gospel: it is mentioned only three times, once when Jesus returns from Cana (2:12), without knowing why he is there with his family and disciples, a second time in connection with the son of a royal officer who is sick in this city (4:46), and a third time in connection with his discourse on the bread of life (6:17. 24.59); no sign is performed while Jesus is in this city, and there is never any mention of Jesus having taken up residence with Peter and Andrew.

  • The source of this gospel seems to come from someone who lived in Jerusalem at the time Jesus ministered there and seems to have special knowledge of certain disciples: he knows the particulars of the Pool of Beth-zatha as well as the area of the Mount of Olives with the Kidron's torrent and its garden, and likewise the Pool of Siloam; he knows very well that the village of Bethany is very close to Jerusalem; it is under Solomon's portico that Jesus teaches in the temple; if Peter is able to enter the courtyard of the high priest, it is thanks to someone who was familiar with this high priest; the meeting of the Sanhedrin to condemn Jesus to death did not take place on the night of his arrest as in Mark, taken up by Matthew (night meetings of the Sanhedrin in the case of capital punishment seem to be forbidden if one believes the Mishna, Sanhedrin 4, 1), but at least one week before his arrest (11: 49-53); he specifies which high priest questions Jesus, i.e., Annas, who no longer held the role of high priest (he had done so from 6-15), but retained the title (a more plausible statement than Matthew's reference to Caiaphas, presumably assuming that the titular high priest must have questioned Jesus); his presentation of Jesus' last meal as a farewell meal, not the Passover meal proposed by Mark and taken up by Matthew and Luke, seems more plausible: the last meal would have taken place on Thursday evening, Jesus' crucifixion would have taken place on Friday, when the priests were immolating the lambs in the temple for the Passover meal that was to take place on Friday evening, after sunset, when the Passover feast began, which corresponded in that year to the Sabbath day (on the subject, see R.E. Brown, The Date of the Crucifixion); he informs us that Judas Iscariot's father was called Simon (13:2,26), and Simon Peter's father was called John (21:15); he alone specifies that Judas was the purse keeper in the group of disciples.