source site To Bernheim the situation appeared as follows:. Towards the middle of the century the doctrine of the contagium animatum was generally abandoned as a product of the imagination, lacking scientific foundations. Among medical leaders Henle was perhaps the last who defended in with strong determination the doctrine of the contagium vivum which he had defended already in with great logical vigor.
Yet the parasitary doctrine has during the last 10 years regained considerable credit in public opinion as the result of new research and more positive findings. It becomes thus obvious that what to us appears a vanguard action, impressed Henle's contemporaries rather as a rearguard action, the last gallant defense of a dead hypothesis.
That the theories of contagion and the contagium animatum appeared old and obsolete to many in the first half of the 19 th century is easily seen from the following examples:. Riecke states in that the contagious doctrine has made no progress in centuries, and recent research has reversed the whole old authoritarian building of the contagion doctrine.
As a matter of fact, contagion and the contagium animatum were rather old theories around The youthful appearance they enjoy in our mind today is exclusively due to the very thorough rejuvenation they underwent in the 's and 80's. Once we realize the oldness of both theories we can hardly be surprized in finding that their development was by no means unilinear, but a continuous series of ups and downs, of acceptance and refutation.
The notion of contagion, almost unknown to classic antiquity, had become firmly entrenched in Western culture after the acceptance of the contagionist Jewish Old Testament as a holy book in Christianity. After the introduction of quarantines in most Christian countries in the 15 th and following centuries the notion of contagion had in addition the official backing of the state, the worldly authority. The idea of the contagium animatum had been formulated first in the 16 th century by Cardanus, Paracelsus, and above all, by Fracastorius It had been further developed by V. It had not fared too well under the hands of Montanus, Valeriola, Sanctorius, and particularly Facio.
Hauptmann, Father Kircher , Chr. Lange, etc. Paris, had almost ruined it through ridicule. Holland, and Henle. With Ag. It might contribute to our understanding of the phenomenon when we realize that what happened to medicine in the first half of the 19 th century and what looks now to us only like normal birth pains or vigorous growth, might just as well be regarded as a deep crisis.
The men who brought about this last victory of anticontagionism worked with unprecedented energy. Welch and C. Winslow have found understanding words for anticontagionism, seems to justify closer occupation with this movement. I attach, however, no great importance to this circumstance, for it is not clear what practical use sanitarians would have made of this theory with the knowledge existing at that time. Hypotheses born before their time are often sterile. They must have some relation to the state of knowledge existing at the time, and history affords many instances of the useful purpose served for a time by inadequate and even erroneous theories.
It is doubtful whether any more useful working hypothesis concerning the sources of epidemics would have been framed in than that which guided most of the sanitary activities at that period and for many subsequent years, erroneous as it was, and tenaciously as it was held after it had served its primary purpose. This doctrine, as is well known, was the so-called filth theory of the generation of epidemic diseases.
There were sound reasons for this attitude. The layman perceived the broad truth of contagion as he watched the plague spread from country to country and from seaport to seaport; but the physician knowing the facts more intimately realized that no existing theory of contagion taken by itself could possibly explain those facts. Contagion, before the germ theory, was visualized as the direct passage of some chemical or physical influence from a sick person to a susceptible victim by contact or fomites or, for a relatively short distance, through the atmosphere.
The physician knew that such a theory was clearly inadequate. Cases occurred without any possibility of such a direct influence. Cases failed to occur when such a direct influence was present. Epidemics broke out without the introduction into the locality of any recognizable cases from without; and within the city or country they raged in a particular section and failed completely to spread beyond the border of that area.
Outbreaks began and outbreaks ceased without any causes that would be directly related to the presence or the absence of the sick. Until the theory of inanimate contagion was replaced by a theory of living germs, and until to that theory were added the concepts of long-distance transmission by water and food supplies and, above all, of human and animal carriers — the hypothesis of contagion simply would not work. The anticontagionists were motivated by the new critical scientific spirit of their time.
Contagionism was so old that it seemed never to have been submitted to rational examination. So they did submit it.
It is no accident that so many leading anticontagionists were outstanding scientists. To them this was a fight for science, against outdated authorities and medieval mysticism; for observation and research against systems and speculation. Still, the vigor of our movement would remain largely unexplained, did we not realize the powerful social and political factors that animated this seemingly scientific discussion.
Contagionism was not a mere theoretical or even medical problem. Contagionism had found its material expression in the quarantines and their bureaucracy, and the whole discussion was thus never a discussion on contagion alone, but always on contagion and quarantines. Quarantines meant, to the rapidly growing class of merchants and industrialists, a source of losses, a limitation to expansion, a weapon of bureaucratic control that it was no longer willing to tolerate, and this class was quite naturally with its press and deputies, its material, moral, and political resources behind those who showed that the scientific foundations of quarantine were naught, and who anyhow were usually sons of this class.
Contagionism would, through its associations with the old bureaucratic powers, be suspect to all liberals, trying to reduce state interference to a minimum. Anticontagionists were thus not simply scientists, they were reformers, fighting for the freedom of the individual and commerce against the shackles of despotism and reaction. This second aspect of anticontagionism contributed probably no less than its scientific aspects to its gaining over the majority of those parts of the medical profession that were independent of the state.
That the anticontagionists were usually honest men and in deadly earnest is shown, among other things, by the numerous self-experiments to which they submitted themselves to prove their contentions. Yellow fever self-experiments are reported e. The amazing thing is that almost all of these experiments failed to produce the disease. They therefore greatly increased the faith of and in the anticontagionists.
We hear only of a Dr. White dying in a plague self-experiment, the suicide of a Paris student who had too well succeeded with a syphilis inoculation, 26 and the death of the contagionist E. Valli from yellow fever in Havana in V. And it is precisely the attitude of this center which decided on the practical applications, and which best illustrates the general orientation of a given period.
It is extremely typical for our period that the center, though admitting theoretically contagion in certain limits and as one possible factor of many, practically , that is in the condemnation and abolition of quarantines, the supreme test of one's convictions, followed the anticontagionist s. The anticontagionists, though castigating the center cheerfully for its inconsistencies, were well aware of this fundamental closeness of both tendencies The change of the orientation of the center since the times of Richard Mead , when on the basis of a similar theoretical compromise it headed towards contagionism , is very significant.
In spite of the name, none of the anticontagionists was an absolute anticontagionist, denying the existence of any contagious diseases. Even such radical anticontagionists as Ch. Maclean or J.
Around these three diseases, which together with typhus constituted the main health problem of the period, did the discussion primarily evolve, and it is through a more detailed discussion of the attitude of the medical profession towards yellow fever, cholera, plague, and typhus that we intend to picture anticontagionism between and Epidemics of smallpox, influenza, meningitis dysentery, etc.
Limited in time and space, I am obliged to omit from my discussion more or less the American prologue of the anticontagionist revolution Rush—Webster and to treat in a very summary way its later representatives, the English sanitarians Chadwick, Southwood Smith, John Simon, etc or Pettenkofer and his followers. I feel justified in this procedure as there exist for Rush-Webster 30 as well as Chadwick Simon 31 very excellent and detailed recent discussions by Winslow and others. Because of the same limitations, I have also quoted only a few of the most significant contributions out of a practically inexhaustible contemporary literature on yellow fever, cholera, plague, and typhus.
The easy victory of anticontagionism in the yellow fever discussion set a fatal pattern for later discussions on cholera and plague. It seems that modern anticontagionism in regard to yellow fever really started in the famous Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic of You all remember how through his experiences Benjamin Rush was converted from contagionism to anticontagionism, how in the anticontagionist Philadelphia Academy of Medicine was founded.
When Chervin 20 years later came to Philadelphia, he found but 4 or 5 contagionist physicians left. Through the Napoleonic Wars the French and English became sensitive to the fact that in Spain they had a center of yellow fever right in their back yard. Outstanding French army doctors like P. Robert Jackson , the famous English army physician, came to the same conclusion in When in a very fatal epidemic of yellow fever broke out in Gibraltar, the contagionist French government and the Academy of Medicine, becoming more and more alarmed, despatched a study commission consisting of the Academy secretary Et.
The three musketeers of contagion returned with a very contagionist report, obtained a life pension of Frs. The anticontagionists too had flocked to Barcelona, to study the epidemic, and in a manifesto on the outbreak appeared, signed by such well-known anticontagionists as the Frenchmen, S.
Lassis , JA. Rochoux , the British Th. Piguillem, M. Duran, J. Lopez, and S. The manifesto helped Maclean defeat a quarantine law in the Cortes in , but produced little reaction abroad. Especially in France everything seemed under control. At this moment Nicolas Chervin returned from America, where since , first practicing in Guadeloupe, then travelling all along the East coast of the continent from Guiana to Maine, he had studied yellow fever and collected a truly amazing and well-authenticated documentation in favor of anticontagionism. In North America, e. In Chervin bombarded the Chamber with petitions to reopen the case of yellow fever quarantines on the basis of his documentation.
The Chamber passed the problem to the Academy of Medicine. The Academy appointed a committee of 18 that examined the documentation for 11 months. The Academy of Science took a similar stand It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of this step of the French Academy, the leading medical corporation in the leading medical country of the period. It set the pattern for the Western world.
It set the pattern for the Academy's own attitude in later discussions on cholera and plague. Only deep conviction could bring the Academy to withstand official pressure and to expose its own permanent secretary. The Academy remained faithful to Chervin. Together with P. Louis and Trousseau it delegated him to Gibraltar to study there the yellow fever epidemic of In , the cholera year, it elected him a member, not because of his political radicalism, as the Lancet had claimed, but in spite of it.
Even most of his adversaries spoke with respect of him. Raige-Delorme b. In , 20 years after Chervin's death, the contagionist Charcot regarded Chervin's work on yellow fever still as final. Chervin's influence was not so much due to the arguments he used, which are similar to those of all anticontagionists, e. It was due to his great conscientiousness, precision, and honesty — he submitted material adverse to his theory with the same industry as favorable material — and his poise — he kept the lunatic fringe of anticontagionism at a safe distance; he limited himself to what he actually knew — and to his perseverance, even more than to his brilliant intelligence and enormous knowledge, which made him tower above most contemporary contagionists and anticontagionists.
His personal integrity and disinterestedness were above any doubt. Although representing the interests of a very wealthy class, he died a poor man. His published work consists only of pamphlets. His magnum opus on yellow fever remained unfinished. It is one of the tragic jokes of fate that Chervin's many talents and virtues were spent on a lost cause. In the above-mentioned Gibraltar epidemic of the majority of the garrison's doctors and the majority of the official British inspecting commission, although presided by the violent contagionist Sir William Pym, gave a verdict against contagion.
This, by the way, was the last large yellow fever epidemic in Europe except for the outbreaks in Lisbon in and Madrid in which made it all the easier for yellow fever anticontagionism to stay. In D. Blair and the local physicians of Guiana, under approval of J. Davy, Inspector General of the British Army, declared yellow fever to be non-contagious.
Riecke defended this opinion in In the Philadelphian R. La Roche's great anticontagionist classic on yellow fever came out. La Roche, is without a rival in any language. Milroy , the famous English sanitarian, asked for removal of the useless yellow fever quarantines for the sick, 50 , just as JK Mitchell had done in By opinion of the majority, under the influence of men like F.
Griesinger , and of new observations, seems to have swung back to the concepts of contagiousness and importation of yellow fever, except for the English, who according to Dutrolau, were prejudiced through their commercial interests. Yellow fever, fortunately, remained but a potential danger for Europe and discussion of its contagiousness more or less an academic problem. Cholera overran Europe and the world in four major pandemics during the 19 th century, spreading terror like the medieval plague, killing millions in England and Wales alone ca.
Cholera had been a native of India for centuries, and the Anglo-Indian physicians became thus the first authorities on cholera for their Western colleagues, like the West Indian physicians had once been on yellow fever. These Anglo-Indians, especially those reporting on the epidemic, were confirmed anticontagionists.
The whole medical body of Bengal and the majority of the Bombay physicians decided this way. Governments, especially those of France and Russia, took early precautions in the form of rigid military cordons and quarantines. To no avail; in cholera overran Russia, and in the rest of Europe. Leon Colin 54 has left an excellent summary of the effect of the first great victory of cholera on epidemiological thought:. The spirit of the time was, in a word, the opposite of today; and instead of being dedicated to the notion of a specific aetiology, readily treated as retrograde spirits those who still admitted the contagious nature of cholera, typhus and many other diseases.
European doctors could not fail to be impressed by the fact that the majority of those Western physicians, who encountered cholera first, rendered a verdict of non-contagious eg Astrachan 55 , Moscou The numerous commissions that the French and other European governments sent into the cholera regions claimed the same results and found quarantines useless: Gerardin and Gaymard, who with Jules Cloquet formed a Russian commission; 57 the Polish commission Dalma, Sandras, Boudard, Dubled, Alibert, Ch.
When cholera struck England in the authorities and the overwhelming majority of physicians were contagionist. Bozzi Granville , who had so valiantly defended contagionism and quarantines in the plague discussions of the 's, marks the turning of the tide. In the editor of the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal turned anticontagionist.
Lizars and T. Molison reinforced the anticontagionist trend, the Westminster Medical Society, probably the most active medical society in London at the time, voted anticontagionist Sigmond b. Gaultier's book on the Manchester epidemic illustrated well the current anticontagionist approach. In December , when France was still free of cholera, he went to Sunderland to study the disease.
In the following Paris epidemic he showed great courage and skill in fighting the disease. His opinions were but reinforced through this experience, 70 and the events of Magendie felt that four out of the five quarantine diseases — leprosy, typhus, yellow fever, and cholera — were certainly not contagious, the fifth, plague, was probably also non-contagious.
An Academy of Medicine report and instruction of the same year, written by de Mussy, Biett, Husson, Chomel, Andral, Bouillaud, and Double, is clearly anticontagionist by implication. To this long and brilliant list of French anticontagionist clinicians we have still to add the names of Broussais, 75 Piorry, 76 HMF Desruelles , 77 of the hygienists F. Foy , 78 Ch. ES Gaultier de Claubry , 79 Ch. F Tacheron b. It is practically impossible to list all outstanding French physicians who became anticontagionists.
A list of the contagionists is far more feasible. It consists more or less of the two great surgeons Velpeau and Delpech, and the two psychiatrists Foville and Parchappe. The trend towards anticontagionism in the epidemic was the same in Germany as elsewhere see the writings of HW Buek, N Weigersheim, Koelpin, etc.
But due to the general low status of German medicine at the time it was of small importance. The pandemic of confirmed the anticontagionist beliefs of in practically all observers, and won even new adherents to the cause. The reports of the Anglo-Indian surgeons, collected by the anticontagionist Rogers, continued to emphasize anticontagionism.
The significant change in as compared to was that now for the first time in centuries a governmental agency was defending the tenets of anticontagionism: the General Board of Health Ashley, Edwin Chadwick, and its medical member Dr T Southwood Smith The Report on Quarantines of the Board is clearly opposed to quarantine. Its Instructions 84 and its Report on the Epidemic Cholera of and based mainly on the surveys of Drs. Grainger made the same point in his Hunterian Oration of The Board of Health was not the least surprised by the increased morbidity and mortality of as compared to It is in this spirit that they were enthusiastically followed, eg by the British and Foreign Medico-Chirugical Review.
The depth of anticontagionism in the England of is visible from the fact that the conservative London College of Physicians, Maclean's old pet enemy, came out in October, with a document admitting the impotency of cordons and quarantines. In Germany the Medizinische Zentral Zeitung was anticontagionist in regard to cholera. The famous and very influential chemist Justus Liebig came out for anticontagionism. This is understandable in view of the fact that the evidence on the effect of quarantines in the first two pandemics remains rather contradictory and bewildering.
Copenhagen was free of cholera with quarantine in , heavily struck in after abolition. The Austrian emperor, the Prussian king, the French government , the Dutch government, the London College of Physicians — all admitted publicly the ineffectiveness of quarantines and cordons. It seems that during the third cholera epidemic and even more so during the fourth — these two connected with major wars while their two predecessors had been connected with revolutions — the majority of the profession returned to contagion.
As the Holy One, he could not be defiled by touching the leper. The prescribed purification rites have been fulfilled. They pointed to Jesus. With his healing power, he assured that the true intention of the purity laws could be realised Gundry Chrysostom, in his homily on this passage, proposes that by this act, Jesus shows that he is set over the Law, and that, henceforth, to the clean nothing is unclean. Login Register. Article Tools Abstract. Print this article. Indexing metadata. How to cite item. Finding References.
Email this article Login required. Email the author Login required. Hide Show all. Article Information Author: Francois P. The Authors. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Open Access. Article Information. Author: Francois P. Jesus healing the leper and the Purity Law in the Gospel of Matthew. In This Original Research As an impure person, the leper was not supposed to come close to Jesus, but Jesus sympathetically reaches out and touches him. Furthermore, no mention is made of Jesus undergoing any purification rites after coming into contact with this man.
Once the leper is healed, Jesus instructs him to perform only the third phase of the prescribed purification rite for lepers. Jesus is thus described as having the power and authority to heal the person and to declare him healed. What remains for the leper is to show himself to the priest and to bring the appropriate sacrifice, so that he could be accepted into the society again.
In this article it is argued that Jesus, as the Holy One and miracle Healer, is not defiled by coming into contact with the leper. Purity flows from Jesus to heal the leper. As a teacher of the Law, Jesus enacts the true intention of the Law, which is to establish a holy community of believers within the Kingdom of heaven. This healing action forms a step towards the coming of the Kingdom of heaven. Thus, the purity laws find their fulfilment in Jesus.
As result of this action, cultic purity transforms into a moral activity for the followers of Jesus. Hierbenewens word geen melding daarvan gemaak dat Jesus enige reinigingsrituele ondergaan het nadat hy in kontak met hierdie man was nie. Nadat die melaatse genees is, beveel Jesus hom om slegs die derde fase van die voorgeskrewe reinigingsrituele vir melaatses uit te voer. Wat oorbly, is dat die melaatse homself aan die priester moet gaan wys en die gepaste offer bring, sodat hy weer in die gemeenskap opgeneem kan word.
Hierdie artikel argumenteer dat Jesus, as heilige persoon en wondergeneser, nie onrein word wanneer Hy in kontak met die melaatse kom nie. Reinheid vloei vanaf Jesus oor na die melaatse. As leraar van die Wet beoefen Jesus die ware bedoeling van die Wet, wat ten doel het om die heilige gemeenskap van gelowiges in die Koninkryk van die hemel te vestig. Sodoende vind die reinheidswette hulle vervulling in Jesus. As gevolg hiervan verander kultiese reinheid na morele optrede vir die navolgers van Jesus. He only describes Jesus taking actions that seemingly contravene purity regulations found in the Hebrew Bible.
These include regulations such as refraining from contact with persons with skin diseases Lv 13—14; Nm , but Jesus touches a leper Mt , or avoiding contact with women with abnormal menstrual discharge Lv 25—30 , but Jesus does not object when such a woman touches him Mt —22 , or avoiding contact with a dead body Nm ; —13 or entering the room of a dead person Nm , but Jesus enters the room of a dead girl and touches her Mt In cases where such contact occurs accidentally or is necessary, the Hebrew Bible prescribes that the defiled person has to undergo specific purification rites Nm The neglect of such purification rites was reckoned as prohibited and reason to be cut off from the community Nm , Matthew, however, makes no mention of Jesus undergoing such purification rites.
Matthew also tells the story where Jesus criticises the tradition of the Pharisees about washing their hands before meals Mt , 16— Furthermore, in the woe-sayings of Matthew 23, Jesus criticises the practice of cleaning utensils for eating whilst the people who eat are dirty within Mt —27 , referring to the condition of their hearts. To do this, the article first investigates Jewish purity regulations with regard to leprosy and purification rites, followed by the textual context in Matthew of Jesus as teacher of the Law.
Purity and leprosy in the Hebrew Bible.
Only those who are pure may come in contact with him. In the Hebrew Bible purity is linked with the requirement of righteousness Chilton The psalms explicitly state this association. Ps ; —7; , 8, 9, 12; Impurity results from coming into contact with anything that assumingly should not exist, for example a corpse or what was considered a monstrous beast Chilton The priestly writings of the Hebrew Bible, especially the Holiness Code Lv 17—26 , present a systematic legislation on the topic of purity and impurity.
A person or object can become tame [ritually impure] in several ways, including sexual immorality Lv 18, 20 , rules of diet Lv 11 and touching unclean objects or beings e. Nm ; Westerholm —; Wright b— In the Jewish communities in the Second Temple period, the concept of purity functioned as an identity marker and was regarded as an absolute binding inheritance from early Judaism. Biblical laws on purity have been extended in rabbinic halakhah , as at least one third of the Mishnah 6 deals with ritual purity Hayes The importance of purity regulations is particularly evident in the writings of Qumran, with their strong emphasis on purity in their Purity Texts 4Q—; Q—; Q— In these texts, laws are recorded that were promulgated to clarify and supplement the Mosaic code cf.
Bowley Leviticus 17—26 describe a broad spectrum of impurities: from those that are harmless and last for one day only, up to those that are extremely severe Hayes ; Wright b— In this article, the focus is limited to the issue of leprosy and the purification rites related to it. Leprosy was highly dreaded in the ancient world.
Leprosy was associated with death and people perceived it as a living death Nm ; Job The notion that lepers were living dead is reflected in several texts e. According to the rabbis, it was so difficult to heal leprosy that they compared such healing with raising a person from the dead Luz ; Marshall ; Witherington Leprosy was associated with uncleanness and a great social stigma was attached to it Ellingworth ; Pilch It was a socially devalued condition with serious social consequences.
People diagnosed with or suspected of leprosy were excluded from the community Lv —46, Nm —3. Contact with lepers had to be avoided and lepers had to warn others not to come close to them Lv Lepers were regarded as impure and unholy.
Leprosy was regarded as highly symbolic within the sphere of death Senior Josephus confirms in his writings 37 to ca. Pilch Roth — points out that no command existed to take care of lepers. This second story is of particular interest, as it describes the ability to heal a leper as the sign of a prophet 2 Ki As the rabbis regarded the cure of a leper as difficult as raising a person from the dead, the supernatural healing of lepers was expected as one of the signs of the messianic age 8 Ellingworth ; Hagner For the first phase, bird blood and water had to be sprinkled on such a person and a live bird sent away to remove the impurity from the person Lv —7.
During the second phase the person had to bath, launder and shave at the beginning and end of a seven-day quarantine period Lv —9. During the third phase the person had to bring sacrifices Lv —32 and blood and oil were placed on the ear, thumb and toe of the healed person Lv — Once this had been done, the person could be assimilated into the community again.
The impurity resulting from contact with a contaminated person also had to be dealt with Wright b— A person who helped to purify a person or house that has recovered from leprosy was regarded as polluted and had to launder and bath Lv —7, 49— However, if pollution could have been avoided or purification was delayed, such action was considered as sinful and required additional ablution Lv —3.
Persons who advertently did not purify themselves would suffer being karet [cut off], or expelled and extirpated Lv —30; Nm , 20; Chilton ; Hayes The impurity of leprosy and the religious space As leprosy was associated with death Nm ; Job , it was considered impure. Impurity threatens what is holy Wright a Purity is related to holiness and impurity to profaneness Lv The symbolic space for the religious community is demonstrated in Figure 1. The teacher of the Law enacts the Law. Matthew ends his account of the Sermon on the Mount by telling that Jesus came down from the mountain, as Moses once did from Mount Sinai Ex ; ; Jesus confirms his authority by performing 10 miracles.
The discourse Sermon on the Mount and the narrative 10 miracle stories are linked by two summaries of the miracles that Jesus performed Mt —25; 12 Mt 13 to form some sort of compositional frame around them Morris ; Senior ; Talbert Both these summaries refer to the Kingdom of God. For Jesus the coming of the Kingdom did not comprise of one moment, but realises through a series of events over a period of time. A similar process is described in Jubilees 23, according to which the age of blessedness enters history step-by-step.
The coming of the Kingdom is being established by Jesus. His teaching Sermon on the Mount and activity healing miracles realise the blessings associated with the coming of the Kingdom step-by-step. The healing narrative describes a series of 10 miracle stories.
Some early Christians applied this prophesy to the ministry of Jesus: As Moses did signs and miracles, so also did Jesus. Pseudo-Clementine, Recognitiones 1. However, the story of the bleeding woman is sandwiched in-between that of the reawakening of the dead girl, so that there are indeed 10 miracle stories. Interesting enough, Philo also presents the plagues of Exodus 7—12 in terms of three triads De Vita Mosis 1.
Drawing a link between Moses and Jesus therefore seems to be plausible. As Moses in Exodus was involved in 10 miracles and giving of the Law, Jesus authoritatively interprets the Law in the Sermon on the Mount and then authoritatively performs his interpretation of the Law in the miracle narratives. Jesus touching a leper Mt Matthew alludes to the fact that Jesus should be identified with the servant of the Isaiah songs and recognised as the promised Messiah Hagner With the first of these healings, Jesus is approached by a leper with the request to be cleansed Mt The leper in the story acted contrary to the instructions, stipulated in Leviticus 13—14, of how persons with such skin diseases should act.
Being contagious and unclean persons, lepers were supposed to isolate themselves from others, demonstrate their impurity and warn people of their illness. Even today, healing implies the restoration of the total wellbeing of a person Pilch This includes the restoration of meaning of life and honour. A healed person can again fully participate in societal activities. Healing therefore is culturally constructed. In this regard, one has to consider the difference between disease and illness.
A disease causes sickness and is a pathological issue.