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"My Name Is Legion"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Mark, after a brief account of Jesus' baptism and temptation, enters quickly into a narrative recounting the ministry of Christ; in it he tells of Jesus' preaching and of the people He cured of their infirmities. In Chapter 5 Jesus encounters a man possessed by devils–in other words, a madman. The unfortunate creature has become a problem to his community; he has great physical strength, which his insanity has augmented, and all efforts to restrain him have failed. Now he has either fled or been driven out; he lives among the tombs and wanders through the hills, doing violence to himself. At that time cemeteries were thought to be haunted by devils, who always lurked in unclean places or dwelt in unclean beasts such as pigs. It is evident that somewhere in the madman's tortured mind a spark of sanity lingers making him aware that something is very much the matter with him. He approaches Jesus and recognizes Him, and Jesus effects a cure in terms understood by His audience: he calls the devil forth and asks his name. The reply is in accord with a belief of the time, that he who learns the name of a devil has power over him. Jesus is told there are too many of the devils to name. When He replies that they must leave their host, they beg permission to enter a herd of swine. Jesus grants them leave; the pigs immediately stampede over a steep bank and are drowned in the sea. The madman's cure is thus effected, and the...

(The entire section is 545 words.)