Daily Archives: 05/20/2020

Is “Gergesenes” a mistake in Matthew 8:28 in the King James Bible?

IS “GERGESENES” A MISTAKE IN MATTHEW 8:28 IN THE KING JAMES BIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Our Authorized Version has come under heavy criticism for an alleged “mistake” in Matthew 8:28. Moreover, to strengthen this argument, Mark and Luke as found in the King James text have been pitted against Matthew as found in the King James text. Here, through the eyes of faith, we will examine this technical issue and hopefully shed light on it to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Here are the three King James Bible texts we must consider:

  • Matthew 8:28: “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.”
  • Mark 5:1: “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.”
  • Luke 8:26: “And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee.”

Upon studying the contexts of these three accounts, we conclude they describe the same basic event (for more info, see our related study linked at the end of this article). Yet, there is one striking discrepancy, an alleged “textual error” of the King James Bible and its underlying Greek Textus Receptus. Both read “Gergesenes” (“Gergesenon”) in Matthew 8:28. However, in Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26, both have “Gadarenes” (“Gadarenon”). Which reading is correct? Did Jesus go into the country of the “Gergesenes” or the country of the Gadarenes?” Why does God’s Word provide conflicting accounts? How do we resolve the matter?

Textual criticism is often more of a burden than a blessing. However, we must look at the manuscript evidence in order to see what is going on:

 

MATTHEW 8:28 — “GERGESENES” (KJB) OR “GADARENES?”
King James Bible (“Gergesenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gergesenon”)

  • Gergesenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), New King James Version (NKJV), Wycliffe’s Translation, Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

Modern English versions (“Gadarenes”) following Critical Text (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – American Standard Version (ASV), Amplified (AMP), Contemporary English Version (CEV), Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims American (DRA 1899), English Standard Version (ESV), God’s Word (GW), Good News Translation (GNT), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation (NWT), Knox’s Translation (KNX), Living Bible (LB), The Message (MSG), Mounce’s Translation, New American Standard (NASB), New Century Version (NCV), New English Translation (NET), New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), Phillips’ Translation, Revised Standard Version (RSV), The Voice

 

MARK 5:1 — “GADARENES” (KJB) OR “GERASENES?”

King James Bible (“Gadarenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), NKJV, Wycliffe, Young

Modern English versions (“Gerasenes”) following Critical Text (“Gerasenon”)*

  • Gerasenes – ASV, Amplified, Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims American (1899), CEV, ESV, God’s Word, Good News Translation, HCSB, “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation, Knox, Phillips, RSV, Message, Mounce, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, Voice
  • (Living Bible has no proper name in Mark 5:1.)

* Some CT manuscripts read “Gergesenon” in Mark 5:1.

 

LUKE 8:26 — “GADARENES” (KJB) OR “GERASENES?”

King James Bible (“Gadarenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), NKJV, Wycliffe’s, Young

Modern English versions (“Gerasenes”) following Critical Text (“Gerasenon”)*

  • Gerasenes – ASV, Amplified, CEV, Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims American (1899), ESV, God’s Word, Good News Translation, HCSB, “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation, Knox, Message, Mounce, Living Bible, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, Phillips, RSV, Voice

* Some CT manuscripts read “Gerasenon” in Luke 8:26.

 

LUKE 8:37 — “GADARENES” (KJB) OR “GERASENES?”

King James Bible (“Gadarenes”) following Textus Receptus (“Gadarenon”)

  • Gadarenes – KJV, Darby, Geneva (1599), NKJV, Wycliffe, Young

Modern English versions (“Gerasenes”) following Critical Text (“Gerasenon”)*

  • Gerasenes – ASV, Amplified, Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims (1899), CEV, ESV, God’s Word, Good News Translation, HCSB, “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation, Knox, Message, Mounce, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, Phillips, RSV
  • (Living Bible and The Voice have no proper name in Luke 8:37.)

*Some CT manuscripts read “Gergesenon” in Luke 8:37.

 

Having looked briefly at the Greek and English versions, and understanding why they read as they do, we move to analyzing the English words themselves.

GERGESENES

This term is found only once in the King James Bible (Matthew 8:28), and not at all in the modern versions because of dissimilar manuscript sources. While written off as “erroneous” (because Mark and Luke use “Gadarenes”), it is not a mistake. The Gergesenes were the “Girgashites,” a people native to the land of Palestine (Genesis 10:16; Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11; 1 Chronicles 1:14; Nehemiah 9:8). Gergesa was a city on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, precisely where Jesus is at the close of Matthew chapter 8. Both Gergesa and Gadara were east of the Jordan River.

GADARENES

The name appears thrice in the King James Bible (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26,37). Modern versions do not have it because their Greek source is different, and thus use “Gerasenes” instead. Gadara was a town east of the Jordan River, but there is no consensus as to its precise location. Some believe it was near the southern extremity of the Sea of Galilee. Others think it was more to the south, toward the northern end of the Dead Sea. To complicate matters, there was a town by a similar name—Gerasa. It was also east of the Jordan River, and roughly halfway between Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. See next paragraph.

GERASENES

This is not found in the King James Bible at all, but modern versions use it in Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26,37. Relying on a different set of Greek witnesses, the King James reads “Gadarenes.”

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

Matthew 8:28 reads “Gergesenes” in the King James Bible. Gergesa was a city on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Gergesenes are also known as the “Girgashites,” people native to the land of Palestine (Genesis 10:16; Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11; 1 Chronicles 1:14; Nehemiah 9:8). The modern English versions do not use “Gergesenes” in Matthew 8:28; they rely on another Greek manuscript reading (“Gadarenes”).

Mark 5:1 has “Gadarenes” in the King James Bible. Gadara was eight miles (13 kilometers) southeast of the Sea of Galilee, and was one of the 10 cities of Decapolis (cf. Matthew 4:25). The modern English versions do not use “Gadarenes” in Mark 5:1; they rely on another Greek manuscript reading (“Gerasenes”). Gerasa was the name of both a city and a region. The city was 35 miles (56 kilometers) southeast of Gadara—and in the same region, Decapolis, that Gergesa was.

Luke 8:26 and 37 read “Gadarenes” in the King James Bible. The modern English versions do not use “Gadarenes” here; they rely on another Greek manuscript reading (“Gerasenes”).

Everyone agrees all three cities—Gergesa, Gadara, and Gerasa—were east of the Jordan River. The English and Greek versions shuffle these names in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. However, it is best to follow the King James Bible readings here and not let the modern English versions distract us. “Gergesenes” is the correct reading for Matthew 8:28 (as in the King James). “Gadarenes” is the correct reading for Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26,37 (as in the King James). The modern versions are based on different Greek manuscripts than the King James Bible; hence, they introduced into the English-speaking world a name (“Gerasenes”) that merely sidetracks us. For over 400 years, English-speaking Christians have used the King James Bible. Only in the last 140 years has unbelieving “scholarship” encouraged them to discard that manuscript family in a favor of a so-called “older and better” new Greek text (resulting in a new English text, thereby introducing changes in terminology). That, in actuality, is a relinquishing of the Protestant Bible text of the Reformation (King James manuscript family—the Antiochan Text or Textus Receptus) to pick up a Roman Catholic text (Alexandrian perversions—the Critical or Alexandrian Text).

Except unbelief, we have no reason to correct any King James readings. Yet, even if we eliminate the conflicting readings the modern versions bring, we still have the King James Bible text at odds with itself. Matthew 8:28 in the King James has “Gergesenes.” Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26,37 have “Gadarenes.” Why? Remember, the miracle involved two possessed men (Matthew 8:28), but Mark (5:2) and Luke (8:27) single out one of those two. One man may have been from Gadara and the other from Gergesa, resulting in two proper names. Or, they were Gadarenes living in or near Gergesa. Or, maybe they were Gergeshites living in or near Gadara. Or, one region could have been known by two names (“country of Gergesenes”  and “country of the Gadarenes” being interchangeable). There are various ways to explain these differences, but the fact remains there is no mistake in the King James Bible. The mistakes are in the modern English versions because they rely on a Greek manuscript minority whereas the King James Bible depends on a Greek manuscript majority!

Remember, divergences in the Four Gospel Records are not contradictions or mistakes. Instead, they show their uniqueness. Mark and Luke did not copy Matthew, so they will not read word-for-word. John did not copy any of those three. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are four separate portraits of one Jesus Christ. They do not read word-for-word because they were not meant to read verbatim. Jesus is functioning in four separate capacities, fulfilling four different roles. Therefore, the Holy Spirit edited each Book to stand apart from the others. It is the same earthly ministry of Christ, but presented from four angles so as to highlight His four offices (Matthew as King, Mark as Servant, Luke as Man, and John as God).

Also see:
» Are Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-19, and Luke 8:26-39 the same miracle?
» Should we strive to distribute the Four Gospel Records?
» Are Matthew through John “Old Testament” or “New Testament” books?