and he begged Jesus again and again not to send them away out of that country.
people are persistent no matter your plumbline bank account grade level personality profile family position religious affirmation political party we are attached to our station woe to any who would rename us a forced beneficent remake never considers ensuing suffering and experience of death a status in hand is valuable valuable enough to die for settling for today’s difficulties is rule number one
Remembering the socio-political situation of Roman occupation and guarding of trade routes that benefits the rich to the detriment of the poor, Legion is speaking of the Roman army begging to not be sent from this place. Another Legion are those profiting from the occupation by selling pigs to the Boars (Roman army mascot).
The word here translated as “region” (χώρα, chora) carries overtones of “emptiness” which is as good a description of a graveyard as there is—a storehouse of emptied lives. This emptiness is still of value to many who are yet alive for a bit more as they pour memories into the land along with still bodies. Legion’s emptiness is better than they find elsewhere among a land and people who have only fetters and chains in their relational toolbox.
Imagine “emptiness” being a preferred place.
Well, did you do the imaginative work?
Now add Luke’s version which begs not to leave the region but begs not to return to the ἄβυσσος (abyssos, abyss), the deep, chaos, sheol, the place of the dead. This is probably a closer accounting of the sources of both Mark and Luke.
Both have their story to tell, and the use of “emptiness” rather than the traditional “abyss” helps to move us from traditional religious talk to everyday conversations. This shift opens us away from thinking we understand what we are being told to a more reflective opportunity to think about emptiness in our own life and all around us.
This verse doesn’t get much attention from commentators but is critical to moving the story along. As a transition verse this is one we might identify with as my short life moves our longer story along.