Re: Mk1:24/Lk4:34 Why plural?

Carl W. Conrad (
Tue, 10 Sep 1996 05:25:16 -0500

At 10:40 PM -0500 9/9/96, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
>I've been looking at Mk1:24=Lk4:34 TI hHMIN KAI SOI. It's already
>an interesting idiom in its own right, but I would like to hear any
>comments as to why it's using the *plural* first person pronoun.
>There is only one man, possessed by one unclean spirit, which is
>doing the talking (cf. however, "Legion" and the herd of swine).
>It would be easy to attribute the awkwardness of the shift to the
>plural to Mark's Greek, but Luke, who's pretty good, has it as well.
>Did the plural mean that the unclean spirit was talking for both
>itself and the possessee? What's going on here?

I have always supposed that the unclean spirit speaks generically for all
the minions of Satan. I don't know where I first got this notion, but I
think it may have been quite some time ago from a book or long article by
James M. Robinson on Mark's historical perspective. This is, I think, the
first Marcan confrontation with a figure from the demonic realm (apart from
Satan, of course, in Mark's very brief 2-verse temptation narrative). And I
would certainly make the assumption that Luke takes over the plural from
Mark's version (or proto-Mark, if you prefer that notion).

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR