Mark 5:1–20, The Gadarene demoniac.
This encounter between Yeshua and this demon-possessed individual teaches us about the characteristics of one who is tormented or even possessed by an evil, unclean spirit.
- One with an unclean spirit is “unclean in thought and life” (Mark 5:2).
- Such an individual may have a pre-occupation with things relating to death and dying (Mark 5:3).
- They may possess superhuman strength thanks to the aid of the demon in them (Mark 5:4).
- They may act wild, and unable to be restrained (Mark 5:4).
- They may be prone to fits of shouting loudly (Mark 5:5), shrieking or making a shrill cry (Mark 9:18).
- They may cut themselves, or resort to other acts of self-mutilation (Mark 5:5) or self destruction (e.g. burning oneself by fire, Matt 17:15; Mark 9:22), or attempts at drowning (Mark 9:22).
- The demoniac may possess supernatural knowledge (Mark 5:7).
- The demon can speak through the demonized person (Mark 5:7), or cry out (Mark 9:26).
- A demonic spirit wants to possess or inhabit something; if not a human, then an animal (Mark 5:12), or a house, an objects like idols or books (Acts 19:19; Rev 13:15).
- They may be clothed improperly or scantily (Mark 5:15).
- They will not a possess a “right [sound, self-controlled, sober]” mind (Mark 5:15).
- A demonic or an unclean spirit may cause convulsions or spasmodic contractions, bodily contortions within a person, or cause a person to be hurled to the ground (Mark 1:25; 9:18, 20), wallowing or rolling around on the ground (Mark 9:20).
- Epileptic-type seizures or madness can be some symptoms of demon possession (Matt 17:15).
- A demoniac may foam at the mouth (Mark 9:18, 20).
- A demoniac may grind or gnash of the teeth (Mark 9:18)
- A demonic spirit can cause one’s body to waste away, dry up or become rigid (Mark 9:18).
- Demonic spirits can accompany people as they come into the congregation of YHVH (Mark 1:23; Luke 4:33).
- A demonic spirit can make one to be mute or unable to speak (Mark 9:17).
Mark 9:16:9–20, Many modern scholars call into question the genuineness of these last twelve verses. For a discussion on whether these verses of Mark’s Gospel should be included in the Bible, see E. W. Bullinger’s (1837-1913) The Companion Bible (appendix 168).
Bullinger states that the two oldest Greek manuscripts of the Testimony of Yeshua (from the fourth century) don’t contain these verses. On the other hand, more than six hundred other Greek manuscripts do contain them as do the oldest Syriac manuscript known as the Peshitto (which Bullinger believes is from the second century) and the Curetonian Syriac (from the third century). He notes that Jerome when translating the Bible into Latin (The Vulgate, A.D. 382) had access to Greek manuscripts older than any now extant included these twelve verses in his Bible. Additionally, he notes that the Gothic Version (A.D. 350), the Coptic (fourth or fifth century), the Armenian (fifth century), Ethiopic (fourth to seventh centuries) and Georgian (sixth century) versions all contain these last twelve verses. Bullinger goes on to say that there are nearly one hundred ecclesiastical writers before the oldest extant Greek manuscripts who attest to the authenticity of these verses. Moreover, between A.D. 300 and 600 there are about two hundred more writers who do.
Bullinger gives two reasons why he believes these verses may have been omitted from several of the oldest Greek NT manuscripts. After the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 extending one hundred years there is a complete blank regarding the history of the early church and a complete silence about this era from Christian writers. Therefore, no one knows what was going on in the church during this period including whether such signs and wonders as enumerated in these last verses in Mark’s Gospel were still occurring. He speculates that when later translators came to the last twelve verses of Mark and saw no trace of these spiritual gifts currently being manifested in the church (in the fourth century), some marked them as doubtful, spurious or even omitted them altogether. This same doubt has been passed on to modern scholars.