Begging Demons

This morning I’m re-reading the encounter between Jesus and the Gerasene ‘Demoniac’ (Mark 5.1-20) and the texture of the narrative stood out to me. The man runs to Jesus, prostrates himself, and then shouts ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me (ὁρκίζω σε τὸν θεόν, μή με βασανίσῃς).’ Initially, this seems to be the man himself, who is tortured by ‘unclean spirits’. This is a pitiful line since he seems worried that Jesus will do to him what the spirits have been doing (v. 7). But the narrator adds that this was a response to Jesus act of commanding the spirit to come out of the man (ἔλεγεν γὰρ αὐτῷ· Ἔξελθε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον ἐκ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου in v. 8).

Suddenly, there’s a secondary voice and this one is more ironic. The dialogue shifts to a conversation between Jesus and the unclean spirit (vv. 9-12). In light of this new information, one looks back at the initial plea and wonders where the line is between the man’s request and that of the unclean spirit(s) (‘Legion’). It seems that, in part, the man’s cry is that of the unclean spirit(s) meaning they’re begging Jesus not to do to them precisely what they’ve been doing to the man.

Not sure why this has never popped out at me. The narratives of the Gospels can be so interesting.

Jesus exorcising the Gerasene demoniac, from the Hitda Codex manuscript via Wikimedia Commons
Jesus exorcising the Gerasene demoniac, from the Hitda Codex manuscript via Wikimedia Commons


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