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Oxford Bible Atlas Contextualizes the stories and lands of the Bible through user-friendly maps and illustrations.

Related Content

The Ministry of Jesus and the Beginnings of the Church

Adrian Curtis

The Gospels

Zev Radovan, www.BibleLandPictures.com

Zev Radovan, www.BibleLandPictures.com

Although he is often known as Jesus of Nazareth (for example, Matt. 21: 11; Mark 1: 24; Luke 18: 37; John 18: 5; Acts 2: 22 ), two of the Gospels place his birth in Bethlehem (Matt. 2: 1 and Luke 2: 4 ). Luke accounts for this with reference to a registration of the population, carried out in the time of Augustus, when people were required to return to their ancestral homes to be registered. Hence Joseph, a descendant of David, travelled to Bethlehem, and it would have been important for those who claimed that Jesus was the Messiah, a descendant of David, to establish this connection. But it seems that it was in Nazareth that he was brought up and lived until he was about 30 years old (Luke 4: 16 ). Nazareth was probably a very humble village. It is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible nor by Josephus, but it is named in an inscription from the early Roman period found at Caesarea, and Eusebius mentions a village in Galilee called Nazareth in his Onomasticon.

The first three (synoptic) Gospels suggest that Jesus' ministry (prior to its final days in Jerusalem) was centred on Galilee, with Capernaum having a prominent place in the accounts (for example, Matt. 8: 5; Mark 1: 21; 2: 1; Luke 4: 23 ). Matthew 4: 13 suggests that he left Nazareth to make his home in Capernaum. There are also references to journeys further afield, for example, to ‘the region of Tyre’ (or possibly ‘regions of Tyre and Sidon’, Mark 7: 24 ). Mention is also made of a visit to the territory of the Decapolis, but there is some uncertainty as to whether it was to the area of Gadara or Gerasa or even Gergesa (see Matt. 8: 28; Mark 5: 1; Luke 8: 26 ). Mark reports that people came to hear Jesus from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and also from the regions of Tyre and Sidon (Mark 3: 8 ). The fourth Gospel sets visits to Jerusalem and Judea early in its account (for example, John 2: 13, 23; 5: 1 ), also placing there Jesus' baptism in the Jordan, the call of some of the first disciples (John 1: 19–42 ), and the conversation with Nicodemus (John 3: 1–22 ). John also refers to Jesus passing through Samaria and visiting the well at Sychar (John 4: 4–5 ).

All the Gospels agree in placing the final days of Jesus' life in and around Jerusalem. The implication of Luke 17: 11 may be that he skirted Samaria and travelled through Perea, recrossing the Jordan to pass via Jericho (Luke 19: 1 ) to Jerusalem. There he was betrayed, crucified, and buried. It was also in or near Jerusalem that some of the first post‐resurrection appearances are set, including those to Mary Magdalene (John 20: 14 ), the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13–35 ), the assembled disciples (Luke 24: 36–49; John 20: 19–22 ), and Thomas (John 20: 24–9 ). Resurrection appearances are also located in Galilee (Matt. 28: 16–20; John 21: 1–21 ). The gathering of the disciples which is the setting for the ascension is located on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1: 12 ).

Zev Radovan, www.BibleLandPictures.com

Zev Radovan, www.BibleLandPictures.com

Sonia Halliday Photographs (Jane Taylor)

Zev Radovan, www.BibleLandPictures.com

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