The Gerasene Demoniac
The Gerasene Demoniac
In the story of the Gerasene Demoniac there are many similarities and differences. Upon reading the story we learn that Jesus has complete control over demons not just when they are in people but also what will happen to them once they leave the individuals. (Boxall, I. I. 2007) This story also has many different interpretations, one of the most common being that it is an analogy for mental illnesses of the time and Jesus’s attempt to have better treatment of and for them.
The story of The Gerasene Demoniac is about when Jesus came to Gersasene and exercised a demon out of a man or men. After the demon was exercised it requested of Jesus to allow them to enter a heard of pigs instead of leaving the region or being sent to the abyss. With Jesus’s permission the demons entered the heard and drove them into a lake in which they drowned. Upon hearing of the cured man and of the loss of pigs the people of the area pleaded with Jesus to leave the region.
The Gerasene Demoniac refers to a story that is is in the triple tradition of the new testament. (Boxall, I. I., 2007) Even though this pericope is in all three of the synoptic gospels they have a few key differences. One of the largest is that in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is restoring two possessed men while in the Gospels of Luke and Mark there is only one man that is being restored. This may be to simplify because in the Gospel of Luke and Mark the demon is called Legion because they are many, and in order to keep with the spirit of multiple demons for people to understand Matthew simply put two men instead of one. Another distinct difference between The Gospel of Matthew and that of the Gospels of Luke and Mark is that in The Gospel of Matthew the location is referred to as Gadarenes.(“Gadarenes, Girgesenes, Gerasenes,” n.d.)
It is believed that this is the city or town that the event took place in while the whole country or region is referred to as Gerasene.(“Gadarenes, Girgesenes, Gerasenes,” n.d.) This would be in accordance with the belief that Matthew was writing to a smaller audience because only people native to that region would know the location of Gadarenes. (“Gadarenes, Girgesenes, Gerasenes,” n.d.) In the Gospel of Mark Mark tells us that the pigs number in two thousand not only does this give us a better image for when the the pigs run into the lake but this also shows us that when Legion says,”We are many,” just how many he is.
While there are many differences between the three versions of The Gerasene Demoniac there are also several similarities. In each of the Synoptic Gospels the man or men are completely insane in The Gospel of Matthew, “They were so violent that no one could pass that way,” (Matthew, 8:29) in The Gospel of Mark, “He tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet,” (Mark 5:4) while in The gospel of Luke he, “had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.” (Luke 8:28)
In every gospel the demons are sent into a heard of pigs. This could be because pigs are considered filthy animals because of what they eat and the way they look and smell, so by using pigs the author is showing us that demons are the equivalent. Another similarity that all three stories have is that after the people saw and heard of Jesus exercising the demons out of the man or men they asked Jesus to leave. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark we assume it is due to the fact that the pigs have died and therefore Jesus has hurt the owners of the pigs b allowing the demons to kill their livestock. However, in the Gospel of Luke Luke explains it is, ”Because they were overcome with fear.”(Luke, 8:38)
The story of The Gerasene Demoniac can be interrupted in many different ways. The story most likely didn’t happen but is a parable for the kindness to your fellow man that Jesus is known for preaching. The story most likely relates to those with mental illness or defects of the time, most notably autism. (SMITH, T., 2010) The symptoms of autism such as: screaming, yelling, extreme violence to the the point of unusual strength, as well as inability to “speak or understand”, and extremes in behavior are all very common symptoms symptoms. (“Autism,” 2012)
A person from Jesus’s age would’ve most likely not have know of the illnesses of the mind and a person with autism would most likely be viewed as being possessed and shunned by society.(SMITH, T., 2010) This is why the person would be living in a cave and not have any family around. However, by “showing” he is curable he is showing that no matter how different or unusual a person is there is always a hope for them and they should be pitied and helped not shunned and ignored.(SMITH, T., 2010)
The story of The Gerasene is a tale in the triple tradition. This implies that a version of this tale can be found in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Though they have man similarities and differences the end result of each version of the story is the same, Jesus is asked by the people to leave the region. However, the moral to be taken from the story is that just because a person is different from you doesn’t mean they are to be feared and chained but helped.
Autism. (2012, May 16). A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002494/
Boxall, I. I. (2007). Reading the Synoptic Gospels : The Case of the Gerasene Demoniac. Scripture Bulletin, 37(2), 51-65.
Gadarenes, Girgesenes, Gerasenes. (n.d.). BibleGateway.com Dictionaries:. Retrieved from http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionaries/dict_meaning.php?source=3
Luke. (n.d.). In New International Version. Retrieved from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%208&version=NIV
Mark. (n.d.). In New International Version. Retrieved from
Matthew. (n.d.). In New International Version. Retrieved from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%208&version=NIV
SMITH, T. (2010). THE GERASENE DEMONIAC Disability Support Worker’s Commentary. Compass (10369686), 44(2), 38-40.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 2 January 2017
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