corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.06.16
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Mark 5

 

 

Introduction

Mark 4:35 to Mark 5:43. Four Wonder-Stories.—The stilling of the tempest, the healing of the demoniac and of the woman, and the raising of Jairus' daughter form one of the most graphic sections of Mk.'s narrative. These stories have clearly been often told, and the evangelist delights to tell them. They seem to rest on unmistakable history. Thus the reference to the other little boats (Mark 4:36) reproduces an insignificant detail that naturally remained in the memory of an eye-witness (cf. Wellhausen). Other details, such as "asleep on the cushion" (Mark 4:38), or the command to give the little girl something to eat (Mark 5:43), while not beyond the writer's power of invention, are still so artless as to point back to genuine tradition. The early character of Mk.'s version is apparent from the changes adopted in Mt. and Lk. The suggestion of complaint in the disciples' question, "carest thou not that we perish?" is toned down in Mt. and Lk., while the disciples' fear (Mark 4:41) is turned into wonder in the parallels. Similarly, Mk.'s story of the raising of Jairus's daughter is incomparably more dramatic and more convincing in its claim to be primitive and historic than Mt.'s. In atmosphere and style these stories are undeniably popular. The apparent personification of wind and sea, the description of the demoniac, his association with tombs (demons are recruited from the spirits of the dead), the request of the demon that Jesus should not torture him, which is paralleled in a similar appeal of a vampire to Apollonius of Tyana (see Philostratus, iv. 25), the demand of Jesus to know the demon's name (a piece of information necessary for successful exorcism, in the popular view, cf. Genesis 32:29*), the evasive answer of the demons, and their supposed transference into the herd of swine—all these are elements of beliefs about demons widely held among the common people. How far Jesus shared these beliefs, it is difficult to say. But He did not deny them, and in so far as He adopted them, His attitude cannot safely be explained as due to conscious accommodation on His part. It should be noted that these beliefs determine the way in which such a story as the healing of the demoniac is told. If a sudden movement of the lunatic in the course of healing frightened the pigs, onlookers with such beliefs (and the man himself) would conclude that the demons had taken up a fresh residence and would describe the event accordingly. The Huxley-Gladstone controversy as to our Lord's destruction of property would not have been raised on a more critical appreciation of the material offered for discussion (see Gould). Again, the account of the woman (for legends, see Swete) who had suffered much of many physicians and had only grown worse (details omitted by Mt. and softened in Lk.), and the description of her healing by the transference of some mysterious power through physical contact, belong to the circle of ideas current among peasants and humble folk. Perhaps the retention of the original Aramaic words in Mark 5:41 is also in keeping with popular custom. Some of Mk.'s phrases, which Lk. avoids, point the same way. Thus, of the expression in Mark 5:23, eschatôs echei, "at the point of death," the grammarian Phrynichus says only the canaille use it. These stories come from men who were neither wise nor noble. They are a tribute to Jesus from lowly minds. Their dramatic power and popular appeal do but emphasize their central interest—the impression they convey of the spirit of Jesus. Particularly in the first and third stories, everything turns on faith. The confidence of Jesus is contrasted with the fearfulness of the disciples. The disciples' want of faith is rebuked, the synagogue-ruler's sorely-tried faith is encouraged, the woman's exercise of faith is rewarded and publicly praised. The memorable acts and utterances of Jesus which make these stories unique, are all concerned with the maintenance of simple trust in God—a trust that triumphs over natural dangers, demonic powers, disease, and even death.


Verses 1-43

Mark 4:35 to Mark 5:43. Four Wonder-Stories.—The stilling of the tempest, the healing of the demoniac and of the woman, and the raising of Jairus' daughter form one of the most graphic sections of Mk.'s narrative. These stories have clearly been often told, and the evangelist delights to tell them. They seem to rest on unmistakable history. Thus the reference to the other little boats (Mark 4:36) reproduces an insignificant detail that naturally remained in the memory of an eye-witness (cf. Wellhausen). Other details, such as "asleep on the cushion" (Mark 4:38), or the command to give the little girl something to eat (Mark 5:43), while not beyond the writer's power of invention, are still so artless as to point back to genuine tradition. The early character of Mk.'s version is apparent from the changes adopted in Mt. and Lk. The suggestion of complaint in the disciples' question, "carest thou not that we perish?" is toned down in Mt. and Lk., while the disciples' fear (Mark 4:41) is turned into wonder in the parallels. Similarly, Mk.'s story of the raising of Jairus's daughter is incomparably more dramatic and more convincing in its claim to be primitive and historic than Mt.'s. In atmosphere and style these stories are undeniably popular. The apparent personification of wind and sea, the description of the demoniac, his association with tombs (demons are recruited from the spirits of the dead), the request of the demon that Jesus should not torture him, which is paralleled in a similar appeal of a vampire to Apollonius of Tyana (see Philostratus, iv. 25), the demand of Jesus to know the demon's name (a piece of information necessary for successful exorcism, in the popular view, cf. Genesis 32:29*), the evasive answer of the demons, and their supposed transference into the herd of swine—all these are elements of beliefs about demons widely held among the common people. How far Jesus shared these beliefs, it is difficult to say. But He did not deny them, and in so far as He adopted them, His attitude cannot safely be explained as due to conscious accommodation on His part. It should be noted that these beliefs determine the way in which such a story as the healing of the demoniac is told. If a sudden movement of the lunatic in the course of healing frightened the pigs, onlookers with such beliefs (and the man himself) would conclude that the demons had taken up a fresh residence and would describe the event accordingly. The Huxley-Gladstone controversy as to our Lord's destruction of property would not have been raised on a more critical appreciation of the material offered for discussion (see Gould). Again, the account of the woman (for legends, see Swete) who had suffered much of many physicians and had only grown worse (details omitted by Mt. and softened in Lk.), and the description of her healing by the transference of some mysterious power through physical contact, belong to the circle of ideas current among peasants and humble folk. Perhaps the retention of the original Aramaic words in Mark 5:41 is also in keeping with popular custom. Some of Mk.'s phrases, which Lk. avoids, point the same way. Thus, of the expression in Mark 5:23, eschatôs echei, "at the point of death," the grammarian Phrynichus says only the canaille use it. These stories come from men who were neither wise nor noble. They are a tribute to Jesus from lowly minds. Their dramatic power and popular appeal do but emphasize their central interest—the impression they convey of the spirit of Jesus. Particularly in the first and third stories, everything turns on faith. The confidence of Jesus is contrasted with the fearfulness of the disciples. The disciples' want of faith is rebuked, the synagogue-ruler's sorely-tried faith is encouraged, the woman's exercise of faith is rewarded and publicly praised. The memorable acts and utterances of Jesus which make these stories unique, are all concerned with the maintenance of simple trust in God—a trust that triumphs over natural dangers, demonic powers, disease, and even death.

Mark 5:1. The scene of the healing of the demoniac is doubtful. Gerasa is in Arabia and does not suit the circumstances. Gadara, though a district on the south of the Sea of Galilee, has no city and steep place close to the water's edge. Origen's preference for Gergesa is probably justified. For description of the most probable site, Kersa, see Thomson, Land and Book, p. 376f.

Mark 5:7. The confessions of the demons become ever more explicit in Mk. The term "the most high God" suggests that the sufferer was a Gentile (cf. Acts 16:17, and note Cumont, Religions Orientales dans le Paganisme Romain, p. 190). The fact that the man is a Gentile may explain why he is sent to evangelize his kinsfolk and neighbours, while others are bidden keep silence.

Mark 5:20. Decapolis (p. 33, Matthew 4:25*), the Gentile district known as the Ten Cities, lies southeast of the lake of Galilee. The names of the cities vary in different lists (see Swete).

Mark 5:43. The command to keep the miracle secret could not be carried out, and seems to be a thoughtless addition of a conventional detail by Mk. But it may be that some such request was originally made, to enable Jesus to depart unobserved.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Mark 5:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/mark-5.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 16th, 2019
Trinity Sunday
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology