I'm trying to put together a timeline of Jesus' ministry and it would be really cool to be able to say with some confidence where Jesus was when he spoke this or that given verse. Hoping some tradition has already worked it out, but I can't find anything. Googling "jesus movement", "find jesus", and similar phrases gives me humorous but unhelpful results.

If being more specific will help, here's a specific question: where was Jesus between Matthew 12:46 ("these are my mother and brothers") and Matthew 13:54 (coming to his hometown)? I thought I had read somewhere that the "mother and brothers" thing happened in Capernaum, but now I can't find any biblical support for it, and in Matthew 13:54, coming into his hometown, that's Capernaum (I think?), so I don't see how he could have been in Capernaum already.


2 Answers 2


I just joined SE today, so I'll jump right in - in 2008 I was researching this very subject for a book I wrote on Jesus life. I apologize for this if it seems like I'm trying to plug my book (so I won't give you the name of it), but I spent years meticulously going through the gospels and Acts, placing the events of Jesus' life in chronological order. So you might want to Google the chronological order of Jesus' life events. Also, as to Jesus' hometown, that was Nazareth, not Capernaum.

You also might find this site Bible Geocoding a wonderful tool for your studies.1

My book is called Come to Me and it is a novel about the life of Christ through the eyes of His mother. I used this website http://www.lifeofchrist.com/life/harmony/ for my research to get a starting point. I then read through each Gospel account cross-checking both Hebrew/Greek words with Strong's Concordance before I even agreed with the website I just listed. My book is a novel though, so while I tried to keep myself within the confines of Scripture and what I perceived to be the proper timeline, I did use my imagination in some parts - for example, conversations Jesus might have had with his parents, events in his childhood not mentioned in Scripture, etc. While that is a writer's privilege I did not stray from Scripture in regards to the important things. In fact I included Scripture throughout the novel where necessary so the reader could see "truth from fiction." The book is available on my website www.laurajdavis.com or through Amazon.

As to your question - where was Jesus between Matthew 12:46 ("these are my mother and brothers") and Matthew 13:54 (coming to his hometown)? My research led me to believe that Jesus "home-base" was Peter's house in Capernaum. When his mother and brothers came to see him in Matthew 12:46 he was there. In Matthew 13:54 he was in his hometown which was Nazareth.

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    Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. This site is for scholars like you. It's okay to link to your own book as a source for your answer, but the first objective of an answer is to answer the question adequately. So, a brief summary of the parts of the book that answer this question then a link to your book as the source would be great. Click edit below your post to add that in. Here's a +1 in advance.
    – user3961
    Dec 8, 2014 at 21:23
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    I would like to know the name of the book. Please include it if you would. I would appreciate it.
    – atherises
    Dec 8, 2014 at 21:42
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    I have downvoted since this doesn't actually answer the question, but rather only mentions that an answer exists.
    – Flimzy
    Dec 8, 2014 at 23:43
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    @Flimzy If you'll allow yourself to be persuaded, I asked about "schools of thought". I meant that to include scholars. A book recommendation directly from a (very modest) scholar is exactly the kind of thing I'd like. But don't get me wrong; I appreciate your support, thanks. Dec 9, 2014 at 6:22

The only sources that we have for the movements of Jesus are the gospels, so any reliable source must be based on these. However, reliably tracking the movements of Jesus is fraught due to differences among the four canonical gospels. These differences arise out of the sources that each evangelist used, as well as the interpretation that each evangelist placed on that material.

Bear in mind that all four New Testament gospels were originally anonymous, and that most critical scholars say that none of the gospels could have been written by an eyewitness to the events portrayed. Whenever a difference exists, scholars must decide which account is more likely to be what really happened. For this, they need to understand the history of the gospels. John Dominic Crossan says in The Birth of Christianity, page 109, the theory that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were actually based on Mark's Gospel is held today by a fairly massive (but by no means total) consensus of contemporary critical scholarship. In page 97, Crossan says If Matthew used Mark, it does not follow that Mark gives you the historical Jesus. It does follow that, in those places where he is copying Mark, Matthew gives the historical Mark and not the historical Jesus.

Matthew 12:9-13:54

In Matthew 12:9, Jesus was in the synagogue, apparently close by the field where the disciples picked grain on the Sabbath but had left there, with his location unstated. As his relatives stood "outside", Jesus was once again in a house when his mother and brothers arrived (12:46), although at the same time he was talking to crowds of people. In verse 13:1, Jesus went out of the house down to the Sea of Galilee. We do not know where the house was, and are not told when or how he arrived there, although it was close by the Sea. He got into a boat so that he could address the crowd lining the shore.

Then, dismissing the crowds (13:36), he went back to the house. When Jesus finished explaining his parables to the disciples, he went away from there and to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue (13:53-54). His "native place" would be the town of Nazareth in Galilee. There is a break of unknown duration in the narrative, as we hear about the fate of John the Baptist (14:1-12), then we return to Jesus who went "from there" by ship into a desert place.

Mark 3:20-4:35

In Mark's Gospel, Jesus is already in his home town (Mark 3:20) when he taught two of these sayings, then his mother and brothers came (Mark 3:31-33). On another occasion (4:1) he began to teach by the sea. This corresponds to Matthew 13:1, except that there is no suggestion that the teaching by the sea is on the same day as the arrival of Jesus' mother and brothers (cf Matthew) - necessitated by the distance from Nazareth to the sea. On the evening of the same day (4:35), Jesus suggested they cross over in this boat to the other side, leading to the event of calming the sea.

Luke 8:1-23

In Luke's Gospel, Jesus was travelling from town to town (Luke 8:1,4) and his mother and brothers came (8:20). There is no mention of the event when he stood in the boat preaching to those on the shore,nor of Jesus preaching in his home town, as we see in Matthew and Mark. It can be assumed the author simply chose to leave these out, but it creates difficulties in trying to identify Jesus' movements. Next, "one day" he got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, "Let us cross to the other side of the lake." So they set sail ...(8:22-23). This is followed by Jesus calming the storm.


We can see by this example, prompted by the question, it is not possible to arrive at a consensus from more than one gospel as to the movements of Jesus.

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