“The Hebrew term Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש; plural midrashim, “story” from “to investigate” or “study”) also ‘Interpretation’ or ‘Exposition’ is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. …
“Midrash is a way of interpreting biblical stories that goes beyond simple distillation of religious, legal, or moral teachings. It fills in many gaps left in the biblical narrative regarding events and personalities that are only hinted at.” (From http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midrash)
I have begun to do some of my Bible reading “by ear” (as I do 90% of my other reading these days.) As I walked Rooney and listened to Luke, it occurred to me that most of my Bible reading anymore is in Sunday-morning-size-pieces.
Reading straight through made me realize how very sketchy are the stories. Many feel like they are thrown together to give a flimsy framework for “sayings” and “teachings” of Jesus. So much of scene and character and plot depth are lacking.
Meditation or midrash seems absolutely necessary in order to enter into relationship with Jesus through the scripture. Platitudes, doctrines, and rules are easily mined, but relationship seems to require more.
So, I have written below a first attempt at serious midrashing of Gospel. The story that seemed to scream out for more detail was Jesus and the Gerasene demoniac, in Luke 8, particularly when I look at that tease in verse 35:
“Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.” (Luke 8:35)
I see Jesus and Legion sitting in verse 35, and laughing as the demons ran into the pigs, the property of the swine herders, who cared more for them than they had for Legion.
The pigs oinked and squealed. The swine herders went nuts over the chaos. Chaos — all that had been inside the man they called “Legion” — was released into the herd. The chaos gone from him gave him the singular focus to laugh with Jesus, hold out his finger for Jesus to pull, and then say to Jesus, “Whoops! There goes one last demon.”
And the two of them laughed and laughed at Legion’s middle school humor.
“Oh my! I haven’t laughed this hard in I don’t know how long,” said Legion, whose real name was Jonathan.
“I can’t remember how long it’s been for me, either,” said Jesus.
“Uh-oh,” Jonathan said next. “Here come the town folks. Their faces looked pinched. I don’t think they’re coming to give you the keys to the town, Jesus.”
“Demon possessed pigs have more fun than these folks, it looks like,” said Jesus. “But, not to worry. I’ve dealt with their type before. Let’s try to look serious.”
After He said that, Jesus then politely listened to their spokesman tell about the economic damage He had done both to the pig population and to the freak show ticket sales, and then to the man’s polemic about some people who always upset the applecart, and on and on. Finally Jesus stood up. Jonathan followed His lead.
Jesus said, “Sir, let me see your hand.” Taken off guard, the man held out his hand. Jesus pulled the man’s index finger. Then Jesus and Jonathan broke out laughing, turned their backs on, and walked away from, the stunned, irate crowd with their speechless and embarrassed spokesperson, who had also given up one of his own demons.
(c) 2013 0114