Can a "legion" of demons convey a message? As Michael Willett Newheart asserts, a study of the Gerasene (Mark 5:1-20) and the demons Jesus cast from him can indeed carry an important message of faith. Although the Gerasene may have suffered from mental illness, he (like other minor characters with major significance) exercised faith in a way the disciples did not.
Newheart interfaces narrative and psychological criticism with historical perspectives, cultural examination, and poetic reflection to create the first book-length treatment of the Gerasene demoniac. Chapter One, The Gerasene's Story: Literary Criticism, focuses on the narrative analysis, and discusses the story through the angle of Jesus as teacher, healer, and Gerasene the healed follower. Chapter Two, The Gerasenes Soul: Psychological Criticism, brings to light the psychoanalytic perspective of Mark 5:1-20. Ideal for students of the Bible, Gerasenes story demonstrates faith in a way that may help readers vicariously experience relief from their maladies.
Michael Willett Newheart, PhD, is associate professor of New Testament language and literature at the Howard University School of Divinity. He is the author of Word and Soul, published by Liturgical Press.
Michael Newheart brings the richness of African American culture and diverse biblical methodology to bear on the gospel versions of the cure of the Gerasene demoniac.
The Bible Today
Personal, political, poetic, powerful. Newheart's little book has big aims: to introduce students and laity to biblical narrative criticism and psychological criticismwith touches of reader-response criticism, cultural and post-colonial criticism, and an European American's appreciation of African American experience and poetry thrown in at the endand all through the telling and retelling of Mark's story of the Gerasene demoniac. It's a tall order, but a whale of a tale! As Newheart warns his readers, don't get the impression that biblical studies in general is this much fun!'though I think it can be, as people allow themselves to take the text more seriously, and therefore play with it.
Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, VA
Readers of Michael Willett Newheart's exploration of the Markan story of the Gerasene demoniac will find both scholarship and passion in full measure in these pages. Newheart writes in a lively and unusual style, and students using this book will be introduced to biblical studies in a unique and enjoyable (even entertaining!) fashion.
Review of Biblical Literature
Newheart's book is filled with real, and fragile, life. It is profoundly at the service of this most important of tasks.
This first book-length treatment of the Gerasene Demoniac is a page-turner. Armed with the tools of narrative criticism, reader-response criticism, autobiographical and psychological criticism, Michael Newheart invites the reader to probe the deep human stories' at work in the story of the demoniac, the story of Mark the evangelist, the story of the reader, and of Newheart himself. Working in the vanguard of psychological biblical criticism, Newheart demonstrates lucidly how the psychoanalytic theory of Freud, the archetypal psychology of Jung, the scapegoat theories of René Girard, and the social-psychological theories of Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, help us understand the first century world of the demoniac and our own.
Wayne G. Rollins, Adjunct Professor of Scripture, Hartford Seminary; Professor Emeritus
No one else has contributed this kind of collection of ideas about the story of the demoniac.
. . . competent, suggestive and interesting.
Irish Theological Quarterly
Newheart brings his Afro-American life experiences, adding a different dimension. He also brings his poetic expertise to his writing. It is perhaps in showing the variety of analytical perspectives in criticism that Newheart's book will be most valued. His clear, conversational style will also be appreciated.
Catholic Library Review