Matthew 8:28-34

8.28 Καὶ ἐλθόντες αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ πέραν εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γαδαρηνῶν ὑπήντησαν αὐτῷ δύο δαιμονιζόμενοι ἐκ τῶν μνειμείων ἐξερχόμενοι, χαλεποὶ λίαν, ὥστε μἠ ἰσχύειν τινὰ παρελθεῖν διὰ τῆς ὁδοῦ ἐκείνης. 8.29 καὶ ἰδοῦ ἔκραξαν λέγοντες· τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ; ἦλθες ὧδε πρὸ καιροῦ βασανίσαι ἡμᾶς; 8.30 ἧν δὲ μακρὰν ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν ἀγέλη χοίρων πολλῶν βοσκομένη. 8.31 οἱ δὲ δαίμονες παρεκάλουν αὐτὸν λέγοντες· εἰ ἐκβάλλεις ἡμᾶς, ἀπόστειλον ἡμᾶς εἰς τὴν ἀγέλην τῶν χοίρων. 8.32 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὑπάγετε. οἱ δὲ ἐξελθόντες ἀπῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους· καὶ ἰδοῦ ὥρμησεν πᾶσα ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, καὶ ἀπεθανον ἐν τοῖς ὕδασιν. 8.33 οἱ δὲ βόσκοντες ἔφυγον, καὶ ἀπελθόντες εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἀπήγγειλαν πάντα καὶ τὰ τῶν δαιμονιζομένων. 8.34 καὶ ἰδοῦ πᾶσα ἡ πόλις ἐξῆλθεν εἰς ὑπάντησιν τῷ Ἰησοῦ, καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν παρεκάλεσαν ὅπως μεταβῇ ἀπὸ τῶν ὁρίων αὐτῶν.

8.28 When Jesus got to the far side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming out from the tombs met him.  They were very fierce, such that no one was able to pass through that way. 8.29 They cried out saying, “What have we to do with you, son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the right time?” 8.30 And at a distance from them was a herd of many pigs, all being fed. 8.31 So the demons called to him saying, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” 8.32 And he replied, “Go!” And coming out, they departed from the men into the pigs. But get this, the whole herd rushed down a precipice into the sea and died in the water. 8.33 And the men who had been feeding the pigs fled, and going away to the city they reported everything, even what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 8.34 And what happened then? The whole city came out to  confront Jesus, and seeing him begged him to leave their lands.

Comments

8:28 – καὶ ἐλθόντες αὐτοῦ “and coming-him” is once again a common form known as the genitive absolute. It is made up of a participle and noun/pronoun both in that agree with each other in the genitive, not taking part in the action of the sentence. The expression is used to point out the time at which something occurs. Though the name of Jesus does not directly occur, I have chosen to use it as he is the proper referent of singular αὐτοῦ “of him” and αὐτῷ “to him”.

Note that the Greek has the force that the men met Jesus (rather than the other way around). This seems awkward to capture in English, since the time of the event is taken in reference to Jesus’ arriving on the far side. In my own speech I would likely then express that Jesus met the men. Not so here. Jesus having arrived on the far side, two men coming out of the tombs approached Jesus.

The term used for “met” has a military sense, “to meet with hostile intentions”. Even the basic definition listed in Thayer’s allows for “to go to meet.” This might suggest not a chance encounter, but that these men came out of the tombs to confront Jesus. Obviously these men had made themselves a burden to their countrymen, who now avoided coming that way. “Feared” doesn’t quite capture the force of the word used. This word expresses something hard to bear or endure, or approach, something annoying or troubling. Of people it can be harsh or fierce or savage. We are to understand that their aggressive behavior had disturbed the regular flow of traffic.

So why did the demons ask to be sent into the pigs, and why do the pigs rush off the cliff to their deaths? That is something I don’t know.

In verse 33, the expression πάντα καὶ τὰ τῶν δαιμονιζομένων seems odd. I’m not sure if that is common, the καὶ coming between “all” and the article. Would that have the idea “all that had happened, especially the part about the demon-possessed men.” Or would it be, “everything that happened, even the things relating to the demon-possessed men.”? Is the article, the “things”, referring to the events relating to the healing, or the result?

In verse 34, I chose to translate ἰδοῦ with the phrase, “What happened then?” That may be overreaching, but expresses nicely the authors’ intent to highlight the result of the pig-feeders’ proclamation. In verse 32 I did much the same, using the expression “get this”. How do you get a short expression that doesn’t sound irreverent or trite, but that directs the reader to take note of what follows. “Behold” works well – which is probably why it used so often. But it seems antiquated. When is the last time a friend turned to you and said, “Behold!” Would you die with laughter if you heard someone talk like that?

I find it interesting that the verb ὑπάντησιν is used again (different form). This is the same verb used when the demon-possessed men came up to Jesus. The demon-possessed men were not so different from the people of the city, though the city may have been put off by their fierce behavior. Both responded with a spirit aimed at confronting Jesus. Whether that confrontation is actually hostile is questionable – but in both cases it was clear that they came looking for him. They had something to say to him, something that wouldn’t wait.

Some people say that if Jesus would just heal, just do this, just do that – that they would believe. This story puts that lie to the test. People who want proof often will be unwilling to accept that proof. They will put up all sorts of barriers to belief. They don’t really want proof. They just want an excuse to continue in what they know and are comfortable with.

I have read where people have interpreted this whole scenario as Jesus making a mistake, and then suffering the consequences of that mistake. I don’t agree with that way of looking at the passage. I do think that Jesus’ recognized that the people were unready to accept his message.  A little more time “marinating” in the words of the once-demon-possessed men would do wonders to change the heart of the people, preparing for the future. But that doesn’t mean Jesus had messed up or made a mistake that hurt his ability to minister. Sometimes when we do what God asks, there are “bad” side-effects that we would like to avoid. But that isn’t always possible. And we do not need to beat ourselves up thinking that we somehow failed, fell short, messed up.

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About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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