Our Joe is a really nice guy. He quotes five words and ready is the probably best markan irony ever. Unfortunately I have to go a longer way to write about one of my beloved ironic remarks by Mark:
first step: A little story about unclean spirits and demons in GMark to understand the ...
second step: The moment of irony
First step: A little story
We all know that the priests and the scribes have crucified our best friend, the wise, glorious, unbeatable Mark. The priests (of Rome) say: There are really demons, Jesus fought against them and Mark knew that. The scribes (of the scholarly world) say: There are not really demons, but Mark firmly believed that as all the people in the ancient world.
Are your hearts hardened also? Or can this unholy forum glorify the glorious Mark?
First demonic scene:
The synagogue of Capernaum
-> All is possible. It could be real, it could be a historical kerygmatic story-telling, it could be a nice story of Mark.
Second demonic scene:
In the country of the Gerasenes
-> No problem for the unholies. It could be a nice story of Mark. Little problems for the priest. Not all could be real: Gerasa by the sea of Galilee and the people from the city and the country (“came to see what it was that had happened
”). Big problems for the scribes: What have this to do with a historical kerygmatic story-telling – with these tombs, these chaines, these pigs, with this Gerasa by the sea of Galilee, with these people from the city and the country, with this type of demon-possessed man (“begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country
”, “begged him that he might be with him, but Jesus did not permit him
”, “began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him
”). So the scribes must start the all-explaining oral-transmission-machine to explain how this story could arise in this form: two twists here three turns there at last Mark.
Third demonic scene:
A house in the region of Tyre
-> No problem for the unholies. It could be a nice story of Mark. Problems for the priests and the scribes: Why the change of words of “unclean spirit” to “demon”? Why are Jesus and the Syrophoenician mother in the center of the story and not the daughter and the demon? Why the change of subject of demons to bread? Why did Jesus rejects the woman and insulted her? Why does Jesus not help immediately the sick daughter? Why the text does not say explicitly that Jesus cast out the demon (“For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.
Fourth demonic scene:
After the transfiguration
-> No problem for the unholies. It could be a nice story of Mark. Big problems for the priests and the scribes: The boy fell hard on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. The spirit convulsed the boy. But Jesus does not help. He has a good talk with the father about faith.
Now the unholies can understand: It's just a nice story of Mark. In this story the boy mirrors the father. It is the father who has the mute and deaf spirit (he has no faith, he can't pray). Jesus makes it clear that no help is to be expected without faith. Then the father managed to speak a kind of curious prayer “I believe; help my unbelief!
” and the problem is solved. The disciples wanted to cast out a real demon out of the boy, but they did not understand that it was only the religious problems of the father (“Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer
The syrophoenician woman is a little bit crazy (has an unclean spirit), because she thinks that
a demon lives in her daughter and she thinks that
Jesus is an real exorcist. Therefore Jesus rejects a relationship with her. He provokes that she build a normal relationship with him. The woman managed that and now she gives a wise and clever answer. At the same moment also her daughter-problem is solved. Jesus drives no demon out.
The Gerasene is a great fan of mental idolatry (unclean spirit). He suffers from his obsessions, but also has a dependency relationship with it. He asks even that Jesus did not cast out the spirits out of the country, cause he wants to have back the objects of his obsession. Therefore, the unclean spirits were drowned. Now he have no object of his obsession. So he asks Jesus, that he may go with him, cause Jesus could be the new object of his obsession. Jesus forbids him, so the man can live independent from his obsession (“go in your house
” - in your identity). But the man did not succeed. He proclaimed everywhere, how great Jesus is - his new obsession.
Mark does not believe in demons but he knows a lot about human obsessions.
Second step: The moment of irony
Mark does not believe in demons but he knows a lot about people und their obsessions. For these crazy people one must also organize some hocus-pocus even if the father had solved his religious problems a while ago:
Mark 9:25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”