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Speaking of Lepers

In yesterday’s post I mentioned the interesting story found in the Unknown Gospel (as it is called – even though part of it is now known!) contained in the second-century manuscript Papyrus Egerton 2.   There’s an intriguing aspect of that story that I wanted to post on today, but I realized that to make sense of what I have to say would take *so* much background that – well, I should discuss the background instead of the point I want to make. So here’s the deal.  There is an interesting textual variant in Mark’s story of the man cured of leprosy by Jesus – that is, some of our textual witnesses have one way of reading one of the verses, and other textual witnesses have a different way.  And it really matters.   Here is the passage (Mark 1:39-45) in a literal translation.  The textual variant I am interested in is in v. 41 (there are lots of other textual variants among our manuscripts in this passage; this particular one is the only one I’m interested [...]

An Unknown Gospel

And behold, a leper approached him and said, “Teacher Jesus, while I was traveling with some lepers and eating with them at the inn, I myself contracted leprosy. If, then, you are willing, I will be made clean.” Then the Lord said to him, “I am willing: be clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. Jesus said to him, “Go, show yourself to the priests and make an offering for your cleansing as Moses commanded; and sin no more....” This may sound like the Bible, but it’s not. This is one of the stories found in a document known to scholars as Papyrus Egerton 2. This papyrus consists of four small pieces of papyrus manuscript, written on front and back (so it comes from a codex, not a scroll). It contains four different stories: (1) an exhortation by Jesus for his Jewish opponents to “search the Scriptures” (in terms similar to John 5:39-47 and 10:31-39); (2) a foiled attempt to stone and then arrest Jesus (cf. John 10:31f) and then his healing of the leper cited [...]

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