Biblical leprosy gone?

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by robycop3, Apr 29, 2005.

  1. robycop3

    robycop3
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    Does Biblical leprosy, one of the greatest curses of Biblical times, still exist?

    For centuries, in AD times, a certain disease was called leprosy. This disease sometimes first manifested itself with snow-white blotches on the skin, especially on the limbs. It often became progressively worse, affecting the neuromuscular system, killing its victims...while others lived for years not growing any worse, but becoming social pariahs, often being sent to a "leper colony" on some remote island.

    Then, in 1873, a Dr. Hansen of Norway discovered that the disease was caused by a bacillus, and soon after, it was found that one animal-the armadillo-could also contract the disease. This removed the "curse" element once and for all.

    As more was discovered about the illness, now known as Hansen's Disease, it was noted that it didn't truly match up with Biblical leprosy. For example, it's not very contagious, usually has a fairly long incubation period, slow onset, and WHITE blotches are the exception rather than the rule. (The blotches are most often red or brown) And it certainly does NOT grow in stone or cloth as Biblical leprosy did.(leviticus13-14)

    Therefore, the conclusion must be drawn that Hansen's Disease is NOT the leprosy of the Bible.

    It appears that leprosy is/was some kind if fungal or yeast infection, as it grew visibly on walls, cloth, or skins, often had a rapid onset, and didn't seem to kill its vics quickly if at all.

    BUT...Does Biblical leprosy still exist? I haven't seen any set of symptoms of any modern illness resembling it.

    What are YOUR thoughts?
     
  2. Charles Meadows

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    I think it's pretty reasonable to say the "leprosy" in the Bible does not necessarily mean Hansen's disease.

    "Tsar'at" is typically trasnlated "leprosy" in English when it occurs in the Bible. The LXX (I think) unilaterally renders "Tsar'at" as "lepra".

    Leviticus 14 speaks of "tsar'at" occurring on garments. The NIV renders this as "mildew" rather than leprosy.

    I think most would agree that biblical "leprosy" did not correspond to one single skin disease, but rather represented a collective of multiple chronic skin disorders such as psoriasis or vitiligo, especially given the fact tha the "tsar'at" can occur on fabric, leather, or rock as well. This suggests its use as an umbrella term for some sort of spreading process.

    The original derivation of "tsar'at" is unknown with several possibilities having been proposed, including relation to "dar" or "sar", which are related (in primitive Semitic languages) to the act of throwing something down, or being downcast. If we knew the origin of the word it might help to delineate more precisely its meaning in the OT.
     
  3. west

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    Anyone hear this ?That in the Bible days they called everthing or almost everything leprosy !Like cancer etc...
     
  4. robycop3

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    Mr. Meadows...West...thanx for your input.

    I still wonder if there was one specific disease with the symptoms described in Scripture? The description in Leviticus is quite detailed.

    Again, thanx for your input!
     
  5. Ben W

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  6. rsr

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    What I've read lines up with Roby and Charles. Biblical leprosy could have been anything from fungi to parasites, it appears. A likely explanation would have been an impaired immune system that allowed those organisms to flourish.

    Could it perhaps have been a disease that has since practically disappeared? We know that bubonic plague was once pandemic and endemic, yet it is now no longer the scourge it was.
     
  7. eyeball

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    If the bible says "leprosy", should we not accept it as leprosy (aka Hansen's Disease?) Isn't anything less compromising the inerrancy of scripture?
     
  8. rsr

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    Only if you think the KJ translators are inerrant.
     
  9. robycop3

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    Eyeball: If the bible says "leprosy", should we not accept it as leprosy (aka Hansen's Disease?) Isn't anything less compromising the inerrancy of scripture?

    Not unless you believe bats are birds(Lev.11:19, Deut.14:18) or Herod celebrated Easter.(Acts 12:4, KJV)

    It was MAN, who, centuries ago, gave the name 'leprosy' to Hansen's Disease because SOME of its symptoms resembled those of Biblical leprosy. That has nothing to do with Scripture.
     

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