The purpose of this article is to investigate John Chrysostom's (349–407 CE) interpretation of Jesus cleansing the leper in Matthew 8:1–4, and to specifically enquire how and why he uses the concept of the leprous body to accomplish an ethical-theological strategy. The study provides a basic introduction to the disease of leprosy in antiquity. After this, John Chrysostom's reading of this narrative, specifically from his twenty-fifth homily on Matthew, is examined in detail. The study argues that, for Chrysostom, the leprous skin conveys not only the theological message of human sinfulness and the death of the soul by the putrefaction of vice, but also the need for salvation, as well as the ethical invitation to society to reach out to the diseased and impoverished bodies that are in the streets. For Chrysostom, there is now also a new class of impure lepers of the soul, namely sinners, Jews and heretics.


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pp. 471-488
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