Jeremy M. Hutton, «'Bethany beyond the Jordan' in Text, Tradition, and Historical Geography», Vol. 89 (2008) 305-328
Origen selected e0n Bhqabara|~ in John 1,28 as the superior reading in his Comm. Jo., an assessment challenged by modern critics. Although the text-critical data seem to indicate e0n Bhqani/a|~ as the preferable reading, this claim may be questioned on literary and redactional grounds. Those same observations provide evidence for intentional literary commemoration of John’s ministry at the Jordan. Origen’s gloss of Bhqabara|~ as “House of Preparation” (oi]koj kataskeuh~j) leads to an examination of Mk 1,2-3, and its lexical divergence from LXX Mal 3,1.22-23 [=MT vv. 23-24]; Isa 40,3. Mark anomalously uses the verb kataskeua/zw, the nominal counterpart of which (kataskeuh~) renders Heb. hdfbo(j “work, preparation” (LXXAB Exod 35,24), which is graphically similar to hrb( tyb. When combined with historical-geographical study of the area surrounding Jericho, these data allow us to trace the process of textual and traditional development whereby the toponym hbr( tyb (Josh 15,6.61; 18,22), preserved at the modern H}. ( E!n el-G.arabe, served as the toponymic antecedent of both Bhqabara|~ and Beth Barah (Judg 7,24). This process of development provides additional defense for the traditional localization of John’s ministry in the southern Jordan River Valley near the el-Mag.tas and H9ag]la fords.