Interestingly, there’s no mention of the more dramatic healings—for observers, at least—of the blind or deaf. And no bringing of dead people back to life, as we will see later on. Nevertheless, on the basis of these healings, Jesus’ fame quickly spread throughout
told, and he accrued followers from all over: not only Galilee, where he began
his healings, but Jerusalem, Judea,
Syria, the largely Greek and
Roman cities of the current day Jordan
area known as “The Ten Cities” (The Decapolis), and even the region beyond . Jordan
Just for fun, let’s go to two of the earliest English translations of this same summary sentence. In Wycliffe’s 1382 translation of Jerome’s Vulgate Bible (itself, I should emphasize, a translation from the original biblical languages into Latin), he writes, “and they brought to him all that were at mal-ease, and that were taken with diverse languors and torments, and them that had fiends, and lunatic men, and men in palsy and he healed them."
I don’t know about you, but the language here evokes the modern condition rather than what I imagine the illnesses of Jesus’ time—or the late 300s CE, when the Latin Vulgate was written or even Wycliffe’s time—to be. Languors, torments, and fiends all suggest, to me, mental rather than physical illness. They’d also be less impressive healings than, say, the sores of leprosy or a withered hand.
Tyndale, writing a century and a half later, translated directly from the original Hebrew and Greek texts, and here’s what he came up with for the same sentence: “And they brought vnto hym all sicke people that were taken with divers diseases and gripinges and them yt were possessed with devils and those which were lunatyke and those that had the palsie: and he healed them.”
Gripinges, devils, and lunatykes—again, people suffering largely from insanity rather than physical ailments that would have been more observable in the healing.
Of course, not only the English language but also medical understanding and terminology have changed in the centuries since any of these translations were made. Still, much, it seems to me, might be understood about the similarities between those times and now. Then, as now, our most compelling grievances were mental rather than physical.
Heal my daughter of her griping and malaise, my son of his debilitating languor and lack of motivation, my wife of her perpetual rage, my husband of his many demons, his porn addiction, his alcoholism, his gambling, I imagine them pray-worrying in those days as they left their homes in pursuit of this purported healer, just as many of us pray-worry to Jesus now. Heal us all of our unhappinesses, our inner struggles, our stress.
And Jesus began what he began by addressing, first of all, these most essential human troubles.