Q. How do you counter a claim that the Bible contains error because of the story of the demon-possessed man and the herd of pigs? If some manuscripts say Gadarenes, some say Gergesenes, and some say Gerasenes, then how do you explain the discrepancy to someone looking for error, especially when the story appears in three of the gospel accounts?
A. There is a ton of conflicting information about these 3 names. The simple answer is that the Gadarenes (residents of Gadera) and the Gergesenes (residents of Gergasa) were neighbors whose lands may have actually adjoined one another on the banks of the sea where Jesus and the disciples landed. (The Strong’s concordance says that the names Gaderenes and Gergesenes were interchangeable.)
Gerasa (modern day Jerash) was the nearest major city and was one of 10 cities that defined the large region east of the Galilee called the Decapolis (10 cities) in which the two smaller towns were located. Its residents were called Gerasenes. Since it was 30 miles inland it’s doubtful Jesus cast the demons into the pigs there. But it is possible that the people involved could have properly been called by any of the three names.
People who dispute the Bible’s authority have much bigger problems than the correct name for the location of this miracle and are usually just trying to steer the conversation away from the real issue, which is whether or not to accept the Lord’s death as payment for their sins. Don’t let them get away with it.