Be Opened

Mark 7:

Mark 7:31-37 has long been known as the passage where Jesus heals a deaf man. "Be healed!" has also been the church’s message in its view and treatment of the Deaf community.

How do Deaf people - whose socio-linguistic identity is Deaf (the capital letter is intentional) and who are proud of their language and their culture and do not wish to be hearing - find value in this passage?

The word chosen by the writer of Mark’s gospel does not mean "to heal." Rather than directing the deaf man to "be healed," the Markan Jesus commands "ephphatha" - "be opened." Has the church sufficiently understood the use of this verb in affirming and clarifying its theological directive in regard to the Deaf community?

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Sojourners Magazine July 2005
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