Namaan’s no-nonsense cure

Sunday, July 8. 2 Kings 5: 1-14

Traditional Christian appropriation of the Hebrew scriptures often flattens them. Stories become precursors of later New Testament events rather than genuine events in themselves. Vivid multidimensional characters become mere prefigurations instead of figures in their own right, and complex narrative situations are reduced to a single theological point. This is due in part to the allegorization of the Hebrew Bible that began with St. Paul and continued to flourish for centuries. For example, every element of the Exodus—the manna in the wilderness, the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, the rock which released streams of fresh water—all were commonly interpreted to mean “Christ.” Likewise, when Namaan the Syrian emerges from the Jordan cleansed of his leprosy, we are supposed to understand that the river’s healing waters really signify grace in general and the sacrament of baptism in particular.

 

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