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I think there are some interesting differences on these points in first
century Judaism.  The ban from the priesthood is discussed in terms of
making sacrifices in the Mishnah.  Here the fear of the disability is that
it may functionally cause the person to defile the sacrifice.  A different
interpretation from this one is the one found in the Dead Sea Scrolls where
the person with the disability is seen in and of themselves as defiling
with a total ban on their presence within the eschatological
community.  [Interesting here too is the view that the messianic age will
not put an end to disability but will only exclude those who have
disabilities].

Kerry

At 02:15 PM 5/21/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>Graham, I would agree about the messianic vision, but I think it is not
>true that disabled people were excluded from Jewish religion. In fact,
>there are many injunctions about inclusion. Some were excluded from
>serving as high priests, but as M Miles points out, you had to be a
>Levite first to be able to do that, and even if you were a Levite with a
>disability, you could still eat the food, be part of the community, but
>not serve as a priest.   There are some excellent Jewish authors doing
>some quite good work on Jewish images and injunctions about disability,
>including a chapter by Melinda Jones from Australia that is coming out
>in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Religion, Disability, and Health,
>and Judith Abrams book....
>
>Bill Gaventa, M.Div., Associate Professor
>Director, Community and Congregational Supports
>The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities
>UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
>P.O. Box 2688, 335 George Street
>New Brunswick, N.J. 08903
>Phone: 732-235-9304
>FAX: 732-235-9330
>Web Page: http://rwjms.umdnj.edu/boggscenter
>
> >>> [log in to unmask] 5/21/2004 1:50:53 PM >>>
>I think that John Swinton's original question requires some expansion
>before
>it offers a real solution and I feel that the way it is framed leads to
>some
>degree of sentimentality which has already been expressed in some of
>the
>responses.  Basically, Jesus did not heal out of kindness;  he did so
>because it was part of his Messianic agenda.
>
>But first, John's question.  It is undoubtedly the case that disability
>is
>not pathological at the individual level.  No individual deserves to
>be
>labelled differently because of disability and their deep humanity
>should be
>recognised at all time.
>
>However, disability was, and is, pathological at a societal level and
>cultic
>level.  Disabled people were excluded from society and from the Jewish
>religion because of a conviction that they deviated from the norm of
>Jewish
>community.  Their exclusion was an offence and an affront to God's
>coming
>kingdom which Jesus proclaimed and he used his undoubted talents to
>heal in
>order to demonstrate that the exclusion by belief in demons and by
>over
>emphasis on cultic uncleanness were not to be used as barriers to the
>inclusion of disabled people.  As this was true at the time of Jesus'
>ministry so it must still be true in today's society where disabled
>people
>are still excluded from churches and other institutions.
>
>To suggest that Jesus simply cured because he was kind and
>compassionate is
>simply to reinforce a model of tragedy and charity.
>
>
>
>Dr W Graham Monteith
>
>20/3 Grandfield
>
>Trinity
>
>EDINBURGH
>
>EH6 4TL
>
>
>
>Tel: +44 (131) 552 2564
>
>Mobile: 07812-594030
>
>E-fax service: 0845-280 1702 (Faxes charged at local rate)

Kerry H. Wynn, Ph.D
Learning Enrichment Center
Southeast Missouri State University
Cape Girardeau, Missouri  63701