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143 Epilogue When my father, John Quincy Parsons, was twelve years old, he lost his right arm in a hunting accident. In his adult years he ran a sawmill,prompting casual acquaintances to assume he lost his arm in an industrial accident. In public he always wore a prosthesis with a hook—covered by a long-sleeved shirt (even in the middle of a hot North Carolina summer), which served no functional purpose. In the privacy of our home, he would occasionally don a T-shirt, leaving exposed the stub of his arm, amputated just above the elbow. It never occurred to any of us in the immediate family that this physical impairment should cause my father to be viewed as disabled or handicapped in any way. He did most everything a two-armed man could do; he even drove a manual transmission truck to work—though first-time passengers were sometimes taken aback to see him steer with his knees while he reached over his body to shift gears with his left hand! That others viewed him as “different,” however, was made clear every day by passing comments or inquiries.Even within our family the arrival of grandchildren prompted new questions. At some point, each of the eight grandchildren became aware of the hook that dangled from their grandfather’s right arm,and the responses were always the same: curiosity mingled with varying amounts of fear.The moment when a grandchild . On the distinctions between impairment as “an abnormality or loss of physiological form or function,” disability as “the consequences of the impairment, that is an inability to perform some task or activity considered necessary,” and handicap as “a social disadvantage that results from an impairment or disability,”see Nancy L. Eiesland, The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability (Nashville: Abingdon, 1994), 27. Parsons_LukeActs_JDE_djm.indd 143 9/15/06 1:27:40 PM 144 Body and Character in Luke and Acts draws up enough courage to ask “Pa-paw”how he lost his arm has become a rite of passage in our family. As one generation is now yielding to the next, the story has become part of the Parsons’ family lore. This book has not been about perceptions of physical disability in the ancient world per se, nor consequently has it drawn very deeply on the burgeoning field of disability studies. Nonetheless,my father’s story has remained persistently in the background as I, an able-bodied male, have explored the ancients’ views concerning the relationship between physique and moral character. Furthermore, we read and hear these ancient texts in a contemporary cultural context that knows the “emancipation proclamation” embodied in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, on the one hand, and the reality of racial profiling in a post–9/11 world, on the other. In these contexts, Luke’s stories of the bent woman, short Zacchaeus, the lame man, and the eunuch have remarkable relevance for contemporary theological reflection and homiletical exposition. I hope the preceding chapters have laid a foundation that invites such illuminating reflection and exposition beyond what I have done,whether in relation to disability studies, theological reflection, or homiletical exposition. We may never know whether Luke was the “beloved physician”referred to in the Pauline corpus (Col. 4:14), but Luke the physiognomist (or rather,antiphysiognomist) has made clear that the lowly who are exalted in this Gospel (cf.1:52) include those whose physical traits and limitations might lead others to label them as outcasts according to conventional physiognomic canons. Luke uses physiognomic conventions to subvert them. For the Lukan Jesus, one’s moral character is not determined by the color, shape, size, or limitations of one’s body.This fact explains why . See Eiesland, The Disabled God; Nancy L. Eiesland and Don E. Saliers, eds., Human Disability and the Service of God: Reassessing Religious Practice (Nashville: Abingdon, 1998); David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder, eds., The Body and Physical Difference: Discourses of Disability (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997); Hector Avalos, Health Care and the Rise of Christianity (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson ,1999); idem,Illness and Health Care in the Ancient Near East (Atlanta: Scholars Press,1995).On disability and biblical studies,see Rebecca Raphael,“What Has Biblical Literature to Do with Disability Studies?” SBL Forum, April 2004, . So called by Eiesland, The Disabled God, 19. The Act reads in part: “The Nation’s proper goals regarding...


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