Balabanski, Vicky. "Chapter Four: The Judean Flight Oracle (Mark 13:14FF) and the Pella Flight Tradition." Eschatology in the Making: Mark, Matthew, and the Didache. Cambridge: University Press, 1997, 101-134.
Balabanski previously considered whether Mark 13 had adopted a Judaean tradition involving flight in the face of persecution. In this chapter she evaluates such a tradition, "a flight by Jerusalem Christians to Pella prior to the Jewish War" (Balabanski 1997, 101). This tradition is conveyed to us by Eusebius and Epiphanius.
The text of Mark 13:14 does speak of fleeing to the mountains. This can easily lead a reader to the tradition that "an oracle given prior to the Jewish War led Jerusalem Christians to flee the city and settle in the Transjordanian city of Pella and the surrounding region of Perea" (Balabanski 1997, 103). However, it is possible to question the relationship. The chronology in Mark is not precise, nor is the actual location mentioned, while Eusebius gives a very specific statement of time and place (Balabanski 1997, 104).
Upon evaluation of Eusebius' description of the flight oracle (Hist. eccle. 3.7) with Luke's material, Balabanski concludes that Eusebius was speaking of an oracle presented to Jerusalem at the time of the Jewish War, while the synoptic material applied more generally to Judea (Balabanski 1997, 106). Because Eusebius has a tendency to apply biblical accounts to particular events in history, his separation of these two accounts is significant. He apparently didn't invent the Pella tradition. If he had done so, he would have assigned it to the setting of Luke 20 (Balabanski 1997, 107).
Epiphanius refers in three places to a flight to Pella. After providing the three texts in Greek and English, Balabanski discusses the challenging nature of the relationship of the two authors. Epiphanius is clear in the connection among this flight, Pella, and the Ebionite heresy, while Eusebius does not make that connection (Balabanski 1997, 111). Balabanski concludes that both Eusebius and Epiphanius had access to different sources of information from which they gathered their accounts (Balabanski 1997, 112).
Considering the relationship of Mark 13 and Luke 20, Balabanski concludes that Luke adapted the material from Mark, recasting the delivery of the message into a more public setting (Balabanski 1997, 113). She considers it unlikely that Luke would have access to a flight oracle such as we have recorded in Eusebius and Epiphanius. Further, an argument that Mark's material is based on a displacement which was caused by the Jewish war is uncertain. The statements in Mark are not clear enough to make a conclusive link with a specific situation (Balabanski 1997, 114). Balabanski discusses a number of elements in turn, comparing Mark 13 and Eusebius (Balabanski 1997, 115ff).
A significant factor in discussing a flight from Jerusalem is whether, in fact, it would be possible to flee Jerusalem at all (Balabanski 1997, 122). If the phrase translated "the abomination of desolation" refers to something done by Titus the time frame is relatively clear (Balabanski 1997, 122). However, it is not clear what this is, so we are not able to tie the event t o a particular attack on Jerusalem. Josephus, in his Jewish Wars, is of the strong opinion that this event occurred at the time of Titus. Yet this is not a guarantee of a correct interpretation (Balabanski 1997, 126). Balabanski reviews Josephus' argument that revolutionary activities led to a desecration in the Jewish War. The situation would clearly have been difficult for Jewish Christians. Yet it is not certain that this was the one specific situation addressed in Mark 13 (Balabanski 1997, 130).