Is it a question or not Mk 1.24b

Jeffrey White jbwwhite at
Fri Nov 12 01:10:20 EST 1999

Mark 1:23 reads, "kai euqus hn en th sunagwgh autwn anqropos en pneumati
akaqartw, kai anekraxen". pneumati is dat. sing. So the man was in an
unclean spirit. This rules out the 'legion' possibility. The man is the
speaker, but Jesus later commands the unclean spirit to come out. Who is
speaking when one speaks in the Holy Spirit? Both the spirit of God and the
person who is speaking. In Mk 1:27, the other people in the synagogue knew
very well that Jesus commanded the unclean spirit, but nothing suggests that
they made assumption that the man was speaking for them. Nor does Jesus
suggest anything like this. While the crowd in the synagogue mentions
'unclean spirits' in the plural, 'tois pneumasi tois akaqartois', that was
only what they said in their amazement, not the fact stated in Mk 1:23. Of
course, no book of the Bible is 'a theological treatise on demonology', but
the various passages which discuss evil spirits and demons form the basis of
what we may intellectually understand of them. In Mark 1:23-27, I really
think there is more to support 'man+demon' than 'man+demon+crowd'.

However, this is certainly not this case. While the comparison is Mark 5:9
is valid, there we are specifically told that that man had many demons in
Mark 5:12. What is interesting is that Jesus starts by addressing them in
the singular and they respond initially in the singular, "legiwn onama moi",
but shift immediately to the plural. It appears that Jesus was addressing
them all simultaneously and personally by addressing them first in the
singular. But this was a different man involved having a similar problem in
principle, but in greater measure. Reading through the context in the Mark
5, the chapter itself follows the same pattern, emphasizing singularity
first, but them shifting toward an emphasis on plurality. What the
singularity in Mark 5:9 really expresses is the unity of the unclean spirits
in possessing the man.

One other thing which stands out is that the man in Mark 1:24 was in a
synagogue, but the man in Mark 5:9 was in the tombs. While the man in tombs
is described as cutting himself and possessing superhuman strength, the man
in the synagogue is not. What is also interesting is that the man in the
tombs worships Jesus, but the man in the synagogue doesn't. However, both
are described as being 'en pneumati akaqartw'.

Shalom, Jeffrey
jbwwhite at

-----Original Message-----
From: Joe A. Friberg <JoeFriberg at>
To: Biblical Greek <b-greek at>
Date: Thursday, November 11, 1999 11:57 PM
Subject: Re: Is it a question or not Mk 1.24b

>I truly acknowledge the *possibility* of "us" refering to man + demon, but
>doubt the probability of this reference.  I doubt that this is the *usual*
>form of reference by a demoniac.  One might compare the "we" of Mk 5.9, but
>that represents a third option: pluarality of demons.  While you have
>presented references and arguments puported to support the possibility of
>"us" refering to man + demon (or man + Spirit as the case may be), do you
>have any *examples* of such?  (There may be some, but I can't think of
>I see nothing in the current context that necessitates the reading man +
>demon: the introduction of the character is singular in v.23; I would fully
>expect the congregation heard "us" and included themselves as opposed to
>this outsider Jesus, for I do not think they would stop to ponder, 'O, this
>man must be demonized since he is acting this way, therefore the demon must
>be speaking and including just himself/itself and the man in "us"'; I also
>expect the demon was speaking more for the ears of the congregation rather
>than to dialogue with Jesus.
>This passage in Mark is high drama, not a theological treatise on
>God Bless!
>Joe Friberg
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Jeffrey White <jbwwhite at>
>> Since the demon was speaking through the man, 'us' logically refers to
>> man and the demon speaking together much as one might speak by the Spirit
>> God referring to himself/herself and the Spirit when there is agreement
>> between them. In Ephesians 2:2, it says 'tou pneumatos tou nun
>> en tois uiois ths apeiqeias'. Mark 1:24 certainly presents a man having a
>> demon 'inworking' within him. James 2:19 says, 'ta daimwnia pisteuousin
>> frissousin'. Thus the demon and the man speaking together express
>> from a belief characterized by an expectation of destruction by the Lord.
>> Jeffrey White
>> jbwwhite at
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Joe A. Friberg <JoeFriberg at>
>> >Finally, does it make much difference which way it is taken??  In any
>> event,
>> >a demonized man has simply raised the issue of whether Jesus has come to
>> >destroy "us".  Whether he raised the issue as his belief in its
>> >as a question to find out if his suspicion was true, or as a taunt to
>> >the people against Jesus, does not really matter.  Other questions could
>> >raised about this outburst, such as: who is "us"--the man and the demon,
>> >the congregation in the synagogue?
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