A city of the Decapolis
8 miles southeast of the Sea
of Galilee & 7 miles
east of the Jordan river. Situated at more than 1200 ft. above
sea-level the site offers a breath-taking panorama of the surrounding
Gadara was a typical Hellenistic city
that became a center of Greek culture under the Seleucids. It
was the hometown of the Cynic philosopher Menippus [3rd c. BCE]
who invented the genre of mocking narrative satire imitated by
later Greek & Latin writers [e.g., Petronius' Satyricon]
& birthplace of the poet Meleager [1st c. BCE] who compiled
the first Greek poetic anthology.
In good satiric style Mark 5
portrays Jesus as expelling a demon named "Legion"
---the basic unit of the Roman army---from the region of the "Gerasenes"
(an inland city-state of the Decapolis south of Gadara high in the
Jordanian mountains, miles from any major body of water). Matthew sets
this incident closer to the Sea of Galilee in the territory of the "Gadarenes."
Like the satires of Menippus, however, the setting of this
exorcism story is purely imaginative, since there are no cliffs
in the region of Gadara, much less Gerasa, that border on a lake. The site usually
shown tourists as the location of this exorcism---Kursi below the
slopes of the Golan
12 miles north of Gadara---has cliffs that descend to the sea
but lacks evidence of a settlement in the 1st c.
CE or any
association with either Gadara or Gerasa.
13.356, 396; 14.75, 91; 15.351-358; 17.320;
_____, War 1.86, 155, 170, 396.
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