Jewish law and healing of the leper

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moses
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Jewish law and healing of the leper

Post by moses » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:49 am

immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places.
touching leper = law broken
having knowledge that you are about to touch leper = law broken

is this the reason why mark says that jesus could not enter a town openly?

John2
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Re: Jewish law and healing of the leper

Post by John2 » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:52 am

MacDonald suggests that this episode is connected to the "messianic secret" element in Mark (which in turn he sees as being connected to Odysseus concealing his identity from the suitors), and that works for me.

Here is how he puts it on page 50 of The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark:
If Jesus were to heal the leper, he would necessarily expose the activity to the authorities, for it was the only cure that, according to Leviticus 14, required a demonstration of purity before a priest and the observance of an elaborate ritual, including bathing, shaving of the body, and completed sacrifices. By healing a leper, then, Jesus risked exposing his powers to the very authorities he wanted to keep in the dark. Despite the risk and still infuriated, Jesus healed him. "After growling at him, he thrust him out at once, saying to him, 'See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.'" Apparently the leper was not even to tell the priest who it was who had healed him but merely to demonstrate his clean condition, as required by the Torah. "But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country," presumably for safety.

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neilgodfrey
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Re: Jewish law and healing of the leper

Post by neilgodfrey » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:35 am

William Wrede in The Messianic Secret (1901) warned against filling in such gaps in Mark's narrative with speculated historical reconstructions or psychological analyses. If we go that way then we arrive at a very different gospel from the one Mark wrote; Mark's work, however strange to us, is lost when we go that route.

(Besides, the miracle involving the touching of the leper actually demonstrates that Jesus is above the law: who is there to be the witness to Jesus having 'touched the leper' if there is no longer a leper there? He has been healed by the touch. Obviously a touch that heals is more powerful than the disease so Jesus is not defiled by the leprosy -- and that was the point of the law: what defiled one was contrary to the law.

Again with Wrede, the reason Jesus could not enter the town openly was because he wanted to avoid being acclaimed by all as the messiah, since that is what the miracle demonstrated (in Mark's narrative). Jesus avoided that whenever he could until the resurrection. It was only with the resurrection (9:9) that the secret of his messianic identity was allowed to be revealed.

Mark was working with a tradition that Jesus only became the messiah at the resurrection. Until then he was not known as such. But if Mark were to write about Jesus before the resurrection without him doing any miracles or stirring up controversy over his identity then there would have been nothing much to write about.

So Mark ended up with these contradictions throughout his gospel. He was trying to write about a Jesus who was originally only known to be the messiah after the resurrection, not before. But he had to be doing things before the resurrection that were messianic just the same. The resulting story is not historical. It does not make psychological sense. There are many unnatural bizarre moments throughout the narrative (e.g. telling the parents of their daughter to keep her resurrection secret -- as if that would be at all possible!). Crowds come and go as they are needed without any sense of reality, etc etc etc.

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DCHindley
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Re: Jewish law and healing of the leper

Post by DCHindley » Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:08 am

moses wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:49 am
immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

[Mark 1:]43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places.
touching leper = law broken
having knowledge that you are about to touch leper = law broken

is this the reason why mark says that jesus could not enter a town openly?
If I understand purity law correctly, touching a leper, like touching a dead body or a woman during her menstruation,
simply makes one *ritually impure*. Ritual impurity makes one unable to enter the temple to offer sacrifices, not makes one a *law breaker* subject to prosecution by the religious authorities. During the festivals, large numbers of pilgrims came a week or two in advance in order to camp out in tent villages as they performed required ritual purification tasks (generally this took a week in most cases), before they brought their offerings to the temple.

There are laws (Sabbath, worshipping foreign gods, offering sacrifices in a ritually impure state, murder, etc.) that, if broken, causes one to be subject to the death penalty. Even then, I believe there were exceptions for the sake of the health and safety of specific people. There were differences of opinion about what specific circumstances justified the exceptions.

An example might be the one where a person or farm animal becomes trapped in a pit and is gravely injured or could otherwise die unless rescued. If discovered on a sabbath day, it was generally accepted that the sabbath law could be excepted to rescue a person, but not necessarily an animal. For a peasant on the edge of subsistence, though, that animal was a vital source of milk or meat or wool that in turn sustained the peasant's family, and they might make that exception, while a priest or aristocrat, who was not as dependent on a single animal, would not.

However, what you cited seems to be, as others have suggested already, related to the later Christian concept of "the messianic secret." Wrede and Schweitzer both wrote on this subject in the 19th century. Jesus, in this way of thinking, did not announce that *he* was "the" messiah because this should more appropriately be *attributed to him* by others.

To me, though, this messianic secret idea seems to have developed as a way of *explaining away* deeds and sayings of Jesus as accepted by early Christians (maybe because they were common enough knowledge among pagans and non-Christians Judeans and pagans that they could not be denied, but at the same time might support the outside charges that Jesus was merely a royal pretender without Roman sanction). It was authorized religious and civic figures who operate in public, and rebels and bandits who lurked in lonely places where they were just out of arm's length of the authorities.

To avoid even the suggestion that Jesus was an unsanctioned royal claimant, which to many Roman subjects made Christians seem like subversives who jeopardized their peace and safety, later Christian belief developed in the aftermath of the Judean rebellion against Rome that Jesus was *really* a divine redeemer sent on a mission (which is what really made him "anointed"), whose death at the hands of the Judean leaders (those ignorant boobs) justified God putting an end to their sacrificial system and enslaving a large proportion of those of Judean stock.

But tha's jus' me.

DCH :goodmorning:

Kunigunde Kreuzerin
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Re: Jewish law and healing of the leper

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:27 am

moses wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:49 am
is this the reason why mark says that jesus could not enter a town openly?
No. The reason was the proclaiming of the leper, whatever Mark's logic was behind that. The BLB put the Greek the right way
Berean Literal Bible Mark 1:45
But having gone out, he began to proclaim much and to spread abroad the matter, so that he was no longer able to enter openly into the city, but he was out in solitary places. And they were coming to Him from every quarter.

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