A few weeks ago I refuted one alleged Bible contradiction in a post titled “How many men were possessed with demons at the country of the Gadarenes?” Here I look at the same story of demoniac at the country of Gardarenes to examine another claim of a Bible contradiction by the skeptic. The question before us is this: Where did the devils ask not to go?
According to the Skeptic Annotated Bible this is the answer they gave which supposedly indicates a contradiction:
Out of the country
And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he *said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. (Mark 5:9-10)
Into the deep
And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss. (Luke 8:30-31)
(Note: Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible. What is in bold is the emphasis by the skeptic webpage.)
Let’s take a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:
- As always context of what’s going is important. Mark 5:9-10 is situated in a periscope that starts at Mark 5:1 through Mark 5:17. Luke 8:30 is situated in a periscope that begins in Luke 8:26 and ends in verse 39. Both Mark 5:1-17 and Luke 8:26-39 parallel one another and tells the story of the demoniac that Jesus encountered at the country of Gardarenes (Mark 5:1).
- In responding to alleged Bible contradictions, it seems good to remind oneself what exactly is a contradiction. A contradiction occurs when two claims cannot both be true in the same sense and at the same time.
- Formally the demons requests are not logically contradictory. Asking not to go “out of the country“(Mark 5:10) and not “to go away into the abyss” (Luke 8:31) is not something that’s logically impossible. If Jesus sends these demonic beings into the abyss then obviously they would be sent out of the country.
- The demons didn’t want to go to the abyss. So their request that Jesus not send them into the abyss makes sense. They desire to be as far away as possible from the abyss. So their requests to not be cast out of the country also makes sense.
- I think point 1-4 has already dealt with the passage in context and demonstrated why there’s not a Bible contradiction in this instance. However I want to look at the Greek grammatically to reinforce my point that “out of the country“(Mark 5:10) and “into the abyss” (Luke 8:31) are not necessarily contradictory. I want to look at the Greek since some people can get the wrong idea that of the English translation of “out of” and “into.” I suspect the one who started this claim of a contradiction thought that “out of the country” meant being sent “into” the open area of the country which of course then sounds like it would contradict the claim not to be sent “into” the abyss. However this isn’t the case grammatically in the Greek.
- When Mark 5:10 uses the word “out” in the phrase “out of the country,” it used the Greek preposition “ἐξω.”
- When Luke 8:31 uses the word “into” in the phrase “into the abyss” it used the Greek preposition “εἰς.”
- How ἐξω and εἰς function can be seen in this diagram of Greek preposition:
- ἐξω is certainly used in this instance to convey the idea of separation. The demons were talking about how they didn’t want to be separated from the “country” of the Gardarenes.
- Of course when you leave somewhere you will go somewhere else. The demons thus use εἰς to convey the idea of entrance to another place. Here the demons requsted that they didn’t want to enter “into” (εἰς) the abyss.
- ἐξω doesn’t function as entering into somewhere like how εἰς does.
- Thus there is no contradiction.