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this passage, in order to gain by it a basis for the subsequent account, that the demons entered into possession of the whole herd.
With the answer which the sick man gives to our Lord's question, he joins a request. Before we discuss its import, let us consider the manner in which it is introduced by Mark and Luke, in order to confirm us in the views we have already gained. We read, in fact, in both Gospels, 'how he besought Him much,'— he, who was the he? The sick man! And what does he ask? That He would not send them away'-them, whom? The demons! But the sufferer would hardly have offered up a petition for his tormentor. No; only his mouth speaks out unwittingly, against his will, a request which is to serve another interest; and in the most melancholy sense is here fulfilled the saying, 'Thou art his mouth, he is thy God.' Soon after we find, therefore, the 'they besought' substituted for the 'he besought,' a change which is thoroughly explained by the request more fully given.
Now, as far as concerns the request itself. In Mark it is given in its general significance, 'That He would not send them out of the country,' while, on the other hand, it runs in Luke, 'That He would not command them to go out into the deep.' Both are in reality the same. The account in Luke contains the consequence of that of Mark. The expression (deep) aßuccos is exemplified by the passage in the Apocalypse, chap. ix. 1 and foll. Here is, in fact, a mention of a bottomless pit, which an angel from heaven opened with a key given him. Although it may not be agreed upon that the expression occurs in the New Testament principally in the sense of big, the kingdom of the dead (see Rom. x. 7: 'Who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring up from the dead'), we have in our narrative, on the strength and in the
light of the apocalyptic passage, to think of the bottomless pit which belongs to the demoniac powers, on that which is elsewhere in the New Testament designated by expressions such as rápтapos.1 There is now a τάρταρος.1 communication between this abyss and the earth. And, indeed, the powers of darkness can ascend out of the abyss (Apoc. ix.), just as they can be compelled to descend into it. This last applies to the case before us. The demons know that in the end they cannot avoid this fate; but it is only on the last day that they must be there, and now they consider it as untimely. Therefore their complaint in Matt. viii. 29, 'before the time,' that the tormenting in the deep, which was to happen to them certainly, should already commence; and just on that account their request that He would not send them out of the country.' Put in general terms, it was certainly not to be fulfilled; they themselves could not expect it to be possible that Jesus would permit them to take their dwelling in another man. But they also immediately gave this request a more limited application. There were on the neighbouring hill a herd of swine feeding (Mark gives the number of them as about two thousand), and they request our Lord that He will permit them to enter into these animals; and forthwith,' immediately and unhesitatingly, Jesus gave them permission. The difficulties which arise at this point, first, as to how our Lord could have granted the desired permission; secondly, how the demons could
1 We certainly do not wish to speak of a special subterranean duellingplace of demons. But when Hofmann, in his Schriftbeweis (vol. i. p. 453), refers the well-known passages in the Epistles of Peter and Jude, not to Satan and his angels, but to spirits who had sinned in quite a different way than Satan, and hence suffered quite different punishments: we regard the distinction as impossible. The kingdom of God stands in opposition to the one kingdom of Satan. Tovnpά, spirits, demons who do not belong to this latter, who do not stand among this army of the demons,' cannot be accepted according to the New Testament.
have entertained and expressed such a wish, have received manifold explanations on the part of the exe, getists and of the apologetists. So much industry and trouble would hardly, have been expended on the former, if the question (completely settled on the authority of the Apostle Paul) regarding slain beasts. had been asked, 'Doth God care for pigs?' [oxen] (2 Cor. ix. 9), and if, in reference to the loss of the possessors, commentators had considered the absurd consequences to which they would be led by considering the conduct of Jesus in relation to His divine power over the earthly possessions of men. The numerous attempts to preserve the integrity of the moral character of Jesus in the case before us, would therefore, however various the points of view, be proved to be as superfluous in their motives as unsatisfactory in their results. (The supposition of its being a punishment of avarice, is in accordance with the evangelia infantia; we never find in our Lord a zeal for the observances of the law; and the consideration that a man is worth more than many animals, is unsuitable, as the necessity of this price for the purpose of saving the man is not proven.) Bengel has exposed the uselessness of those apologetical endeavours by the remark, 'Damnum dæmonibus adscribendum, non Domino; quem quis cogeret, impedire dæmonas?' This is made still more evident from the circumstance that the Gadarenes themselves were very far from making our Lord responsible for the damage to their property. If they request him to leave their borders, they do so, not from fear of similar and greater losses, but from other and deeper motives.
The second point, however, demands more earnest consideration. This is the passage on which Strauss has based his attack on the historical probability of the incident. His case (p. 449 of his work; Eng.
transl. vol. ii. p. 184) is this: Though some may find the possession of human souls by bad spirits conceivable, they could not easily imagine such a relation of them to the souls of animals; and even those who accept this representation as true, must still take objection to the contradiction which lies in the conduct of the evil spirits there stated. First they are said, in order to avoid the necessity of going down the precipice, or out of the country, to pray to be allowed to take up their quarters in the swine, and immediately after, when their prayer has been granted . . they themselves destroyed the very quarters they had asked for.' He says that real devils would not have acted thus; only a myth or a fiction could have fallen into such a contradiction, which has occurred in depicting features with different aims and from different points of view. If we had only to upset this criticism, it would itself supply us with the most appropriate weapons for a hostile critique upon it; we prefer, however, to examine at once the event itself. The consideration of it does not start correctly if it arises from the question as to how the entrance of demons into animals is conceivable.1 Instead of this, we must seek to find out the grounds on which the demons entertained their wish. On this view our Lord Himself has, in another narrative, given a most satisfactory explanation. He says (Luke xi. 21), ‘If an unclean spirit is driven out of a man, he walketh through dry places seeking rest, and finding none.' What is there in these words? That it is unbearable for demons to be without a habitation. They certainly find complete satisfaction only in the possession of a
1 To Olshausen the chief objection was, that human and animal appear here to be too much identified. He did not perceive that the demoniac condition did not belong to the ethical, but purely to the psychico-physical region. In consequence of this, his whole exposition (Comm. i. p. 306 and foll.) has become obscure and untenable.
man; but if this is taken away from them, they prefer, instead of being in the desert (that is, without a dwelling-place), to find their rest at least in animals; for then they have a domicile,' even though a despicable one. And Jesus grants their wish. The result is this, that the whole herd hasten into the sea, and find their death in it. The evangelists could not have expressed themselves more correctly and precisely, if they wished to represent that this catastrophe resulted from the entrance of the demons into the souls of the animals. Every attempt to ascribe it to the demoniac fails, even taking the words as they stand. But does this, the only suitable view of the Biblical account, furnish any just cause for surprise? We should rather feel surprised if the creatures had acted without opposition, if they had borne patiently their being taken possession of on the part of these powers. Their self-destruction seems to us to be the most conceivable feature. The demon can carry the man far; he can drive him to a wild life, to tear and damage his own body; but to suicide can Satan alone tempt him, or a natural frenzy blind him. It was different with the animal. This Tios is made subject to man, and submits to him only, even if often οὐχ ἑκοῦσα . . . ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸν ὑποτάξαντα. But as soon as another than human power overcomes that of the animal, if a demon takes it in possession, it rids itself of its unbearable yoke by selfdestruction. The fallacious conclusion of Strauss falls away with the false premises, that he considered what was the act of the animals as the intention of the demons.
1 Schelling has recommended for comparison the passage in Peter, ‘The devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour' (1 Pet. v. 8). Even here Satan appears thirsting after a reality, which he can only gain by means of the subjection of a foreign will. Against the comparison as such we have nothing to object. But we must again warn against the identifying of one tempted by Satan with a demoniac.