Monday, October 22, 2012

A Month of Miracles Part 16 - Jesus Cures the Man Who Was Deaf and Mute

Title: Jesus Christ Cures the Man Who Was Deaf and Mute
Artist: Unknown
Medium: Illuminated Manuscript
Size: tbd
Date: c. 15th century
Location: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Austria.

Mark 7:31-37 - Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

In this passage Mark deliberately echoes Old Testament language as he talks about Jesus. In v.32 Mark uses a very rare word to describe this man’s condition. You wouldn’t expect a word meaning ‘almost unable to speak’ to be very common, but in fact this is the only time it comes up in the whole New Testament. It is also rare in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Almost the only place it appears is in the prophecy of Isaiah, in a passage where he looks forward to the day when God will intervene in human history and bring about a restored humanity in a restored Creation (Isaiah 35:3-10).

The Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus is a 15th century Illuminated Manuscript held in the collection of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna, Austria.

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