Psalm 137, Violence, and Justice

This time I decided to experiment with making a video. There’s a lot, lot more I’d like to say, as well as some concepts (like the Ancient Near Eastern concepts of justice and law) that I’d like to delve into more deeply, but I wanted to keep it short and to the point. Please let me know what you think of the video! (And here’s a shout out to my friend Andrew for recording and editing this for me!)

A Quick Look at Psalm 109

First, go ahead and take a few minutes to read through Psalm 109. I think you will get a lot more out of this if you have it fresh in your mind.

Psalm 109 is perhaps one of the most disturbing and violent psalms in the whole Psalter. At first glance, verses 6-19 appear to an extended request from David to see the absolute denigration, pain, and destruction of his enemy along with their family members. For those of us who value Jesus’s command to “bless those who curse you,” this is a difficult psalm to accept, and not to mention a difficult psalm to pray!

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Looking at the Story of the Demonized Man at Gergesa in Mark’s Gospel, Part 2

For Part 1, click here

Last time we looked at this story in the Gospel of Mark together, we examined how Mark uses the word ischuo with a special significance throughout his Gospel.1

In the very beginning, John the Baptist claims Jesus is the “stronger” one by virtue of the Holy Spirit that empowers him.

Later, in ch. 3, Jesus claims that he is the one who has bound the strong one Beelzebul, implying that Jesus is stronger.Furthermore, Jesus is plundering his house. He goes on to connect this with the Holy Spirit just as John did before: it is not the power of Satan that allows him to do this, but the Holy Spirit of God that he wields and that wields him.

Mark hints in the story of Legion that Jesus is again facing the “strength” of the strong man, Beelzebul. However, Mark dramatically reveals partway through the story that the battle is not like before. Instead of just facing off with one unclean spirit, Jesus is now set against thousands of them. After establishing this, Jesus dispatches them with almost no effort. The power of Beelzebul is so far no match at all for Jesus.

There were two more components of the story that I wanted to look at. In this post we will be looking at one of them, which is the significance of Jesus’ allowing the unclean spirits to enter the herd of pigs and their subsequent drowning in the sea.

Continue reading “Looking at the Story of the Demonized Man at Gergesa in Mark’s Gospel, Part 2”

Looking at the Story of the Demonized Man at Gergesa in Mark’s Gospel, Part 1

For Part 2, click here

Today I’ve been looking at the story of the demon-possessed man at Gergasa (or Gerasa, or Gadara) in Mark’s Gospel.1 This story features in my first graduate-school research paper, in which I analyzed Mark’s use of the sea as a theme and metaphor in his narrative. I’m also planning on featuring this story in a video series that I’m currently putting together—hence my interest in the text today. As I was researching, I came across one intertextaul and two intratextual aspects of the story that I had never before realized, and which I’d like to share here.2 

After beginning writing, I realized that I had far too much material for one post. I’m imagining that I can get everything out in two parts. This first one will deal with one of the intratextual features (though, in so doing we’ll touch on a bit of intertextuality yet still). Even still, this first post is far too long. Perhaps I’ll be able to conclude in my next post, yet we’ll see how long it goes, and perhaps I’ll have to split it in half again.

Let’s get started then.  

Continue reading “Looking at the Story of the Demonized Man at Gergesa in Mark’s Gospel, Part 1”