Mark and spirit possession in an African context
The Gospel of Mark is a moving story especially when one looks at the way Mark recounts Jesus’ struggle with evil, the extent of the power and the fate of Satan and demons and the type of life the followers of Jesus are to lead: whether a demon-free life or a life of struggle with demons; and how scholars interpret Mark’s views today. This thesis begins with a review of a debate between J.M. Robinson and E. Best who hold divergent views on Jesus’ struggle with evil and the extent and the fate of Satan’s power and demons in Mark. This is followed by a critical analysis of Mark’s views on the baptism and the temptation narratives and Jesus’ inauguration of the Kingdom in a world dominated by Satan and its implications. The review of Mark 3: 22-27 serves as a background to the section that examines Spirit Possession cases and the ways Jesus exorcises these demons in Mark, bringing to light Mark’s views and the views of Western scholars. This is followed by categorising diseases into those caused by demons and those caused naturally and how Jesus exorcises and heals these diseases, demonstrating his power over evil. The section on Evil in African Traditional Religion focuses on the sources of evil and how evil is eradicated from the traditional African society. This is followed by a report of field research, which took the form of Bible Studies among Africans with the focus on Ghanaian Christians from twenty one churches in London. The purpose is to find out how these Christians whose world-view approximates that of Mark, read and interpret some texts in Mark. We were interested in what Ghanaian Christians would make of these texts because they might help us to see them as Mark’s readers would have seen them, and to discover the issues and questions which they would have brought to the texts. The final section of the thesis brings together the views of Mark, Western scholars and Ghanaian Christians showing how these views complement each other.