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Children and adults with intellectual disability in antiquity and modernity: toward a biblical and sociological model.

The following research is based on biblical source material that is relatively limited regarding this topic. Ancient texts mention intellectual disability' less than physical disabilities, and it is more often related to adults than to children. Therefore, the method here employed is based upon cross-cultural investigation. In undertaking that approach, one must be aware of the risk of easily overlooking cultural differences. (2) This risk is increased by the fact that this research, by posing a modern question to ancient cultures, is based upon modern experience which is not altogether identical with the ancients' experience.

There is a second difficulty. The scientific terminology employed in this field often lacks precision and coherence. The same terms may designate an intelligent person acting misguidedly, or a person with an intellectual disability, or one with a psychological illness. This is especially true of ancient descriptive words and metaphoric terms. Analogous ambiguities can be observed as well in modern languages. While in German "geistige Behindenmg" designates an intellectual deficit, the English term "mental disability" usually designates psychological disorders, in contrast with "intellectual disability." (3) Modern medicine, of course, employs a strict distinction between intellectual (mental) impairment and psychological dysfunction. An argument might even be made for the suggestion that the terminology of modern medicine might be too rigid in its distinctions in this regard. Intellectual disability often has a manifold character that involves various forms of psychological dysfunction as a secondary facet of the disorder.

The first part of this contribution discusses the topic including the medical perspectives in the ancient and modern world. This investigation produces a very limited amount of solid data. The second part, that follows a sociological perspective, puts more meat on the bone, so to speak. The third and last part of this treatise discusses some consequences for biblical exegesis and theology.

Medical-historical steps with the help of the terminology employed


Terms designating a person with an intellectual disability are found in the Ancient Near East and in antiquity. Most common are: Akkadian Hebrew kesil and peti, Mishnaic Hebrew.sote, Greek moros, Latin morio and fatuus. (4) In the majority of cases, these terms designate intelligent people with cognitive dysfunction. But in all these ancient cultures we find also deliberate formulations like "born fools" (physei moroi /naturaliter fatui / engendering or bearing a lillu or a kesil), both in medical and non-medical texts. The term "fool" in these cases differs radically from the modern English use of "fool." In current English usage the term "fool" means someone who is foolish, reckless, unwise, or irresponsible, while having the cognitive capacity to know better and behave more sensibly. The ancient usage of the word "fool" describes a person who is cognitively impaired and cannot make sense and cannot function with normal thoughtful reflection, and so behaves unwisely, lacking the ability to know better or do better.

These ancient formulations point strikingly toward an innate intellectual disability. Such terminology is used rather seldom in ancient literature. Apparently it was not obligatory to designate such people in this manner. The formulations "born" and "by nature" appear in the ancient literature but are surprising because the number of incurable intellectual (and psychic) anomalies derived from birth (ek genees etc.) (5) are relatively limited in ancient literature and modern experience. Conspicously, the ancient texts seem to be silent about healing an intellectual disability. It is impossible to find any hint in the ancient sources of such healing in the numerous narratives of a miraculous healing, in the extensive magical literature, and in the medical texts.6 This negative observation confirms the apodictic decision of C.F. Goodey in his recent History of Intelligence and Intellectual Disability: "Greek doctors denied that intellectual inferiority was the province of medicine; their mythical patron Asclepios made the blind see and the lame walk but, it was said, could not make a fool wise." (7)

Admittedly, the stem mor(os) is used on occasion by the physicians, for instance by Galen (ca. 40 items). But predominantly it is used as depreciation of other physicians contradicting Galen. Apart from that, Galen (and the Corpus Hippocraticum) used the stem moros only rarely for birth defects, but rather for diseases beginning later. Mikos and morosis occur in different contexts, for instance: as result of an abcess, (8) related to gnashing with teeth, (9) or concerning marriagable virgins. (10) Often there is a psychic problem, a febrile delirium, (11) or other phenomena. Yet a metaphorical use is possible, as when a bodily organ is unable to function. (12) In a few cases, formulated en passant, the ancients mention an intellectual disability, but the formulations do not give us precise informations. (13) Obviously the medical interest in intellectual impairments was minimal. The only Greek medical text (14) mentioning the physei moroi confirms this opinion. The same seems to be true for Mesopotamia; remarkably no medical text uses the term lillu.

Multi-handicap persons

Modern sociologists are very much aware of persons with multi-handicaps. Ancient records indicate awareness of them also in their time. Hearing-impairment from birth reduces the verbal and the intellectual advancement of a person. This awareness is documented in Akkadian teminology as in the word sakku. The use made of this term is significant: "blocked, deaf, silly." Furthermore Greek and Jewish authors knew that epilepsy can go along with intellectual disability. The physician Aretaios describes the consequences of epilepsy in damaging the patient's dianoia and causing his mOrainein. (15) According to the pseudo-Aristotelian Problemata ([section] 30), wine makes men "silly (moros) like the congenital epileptics." The traditional Rabbinic collection of the Talmud mentions in Baba Metzia 80a the case of a maidservant who is simultaneously foolish (Sote often means a psychic disorder) and epileptic (nikpit) and meso'emet (silly).

However, such observations are rare in contrast to the dramatic physical symptoms of epileptic seizures, which are more eye-catching and attention-getting theoretical and practical medical issues. Mesopotamian and Greek physicians were mindful of the age when the first seizure occured, as an important indicator of the method of therapy to be employed. (16) Differing answers were given about the cause of epilepsy. Against the traditional view of a demoniac cause, some Greek physicians held the view of a pre-disposition or an inheritance. Herodotos, too, mentions a born epileptic. (17) The Talmud (Jebamot 64b) warns from marrying a woman when three cases of epilepsy were observed in her family. Other passages discuss the cause of epilepsy. Some rabbis taught that a claimed illicit sexual practice of the parents is the cause of an epileptic offspring (Pesachim 112b), but the majority of the rabbis contradicted this claim by declaring those precise practices to be legitimate (Neciarim 20b).

Cerebral palsy, originating from oxygen deficiency before or during birth, is another multi-handicap which causes physical and/or intellectual disorders. Medical texts from Mesopotamia mention children with spastic convulsions who can neither rise nor chew bread nor speak.18 Modern medicine ascribes that to cerebral palsied person with the damaged brain is not able to control the muscles in charge of chewing and speaking.19 Cerebral palsy can be verified by a test which was known in Mesopotamia and is practiced today ("Moro test"): (20) For a very short moment, the physician lets the newborn fall unprotected. A healthy child will spontaneously spread his arms, but a child with cerebral palsy will not do that. The Cuneiform text can only predict the death of such a child.

Two Mesopotamian cases of an extreme cerebral palsy lead to a disastrous treatment which does not match the physicians' usual engagement: A floppy child who never weeps nor cries must be thrown alive into the water. This fatal treatment is a rare exception, as is demonstrated by the unusual addition of an explanation: "in order that the family will not be disrupted." Perhaps the physicians feared the consequences of care which would overcharge the family.

A second case demonstrates a similar archaic and desperate reaction: A spastic "infant who wails, twists and is continually rigid shall to be laid to rest as if he were a stillborn child, and the evil will be carried away (with him)." In such extreme diseases, a supplementary intellectual impairment is very probable, but no medical text mentions that. The same is true for two exceptional cases of adults with a heavy disability where we can assume an accompanying intellectual disability: They are to be killed in an unusually cruel method: apparently the evil (possibly a genetic disease like Chorea Huntington) must be destroyed root and branch.

It is striking that in all these descriptions of a heavy disability the visibility of the disorder is so dominant in human awareness that the aspect of intellectual disability seems to be unimportant. This (less visible) aspect is mentioned only exceptionally: Two medical texts describe a "tongue that hangs out"--a typical symptom of Down syndrome; one text continues that the patient "is not in the full possession of his faculties." (21)

A sociological view in the ancient texts

Perception(s) of an intellectual disability in the epic poetry

Societies define "disability" by what the society that is disturbed by it cannot or will not integrate into the usual communal functions. (22) Today "intellectual disability" is often seen as a "social construct" but we never should forget that it is based on a real fact which can be perceived in different ways or perhaps will be overlooked. Who in the ancient societies perceived an intellectual disability, and how? Myth, being an elementary interpretation of reality, demonstrates an early occupation with intellectual disability. The oldest source is the Sumerian myth Enki and Ninmach which is difficult to interpret and evaluate (see p. 460), while the later Epic of Gilgamesh is easier to understand. The poet who gave to the Epic its canonical form at the end of the 2nd millennium presents an impressive portrait of a lillu by at least seven lines: (23)
  What is given to the fool (lillu) is [beer! sludge instead
  of [...1 ghee, [he chews bran and gist instead of I...J He
  is clad in a maShandu-garment, instead of [...] instead of
  a belt, a cord of [...I Because he has no advisers [...]
  because he has no words of counsel have thought for him,
  Gilgamesh, [......]!"

Contrary to the privileged king Gilgamesh, the lillu has no adviser and cannot give an advice by himself Charitable food and clothing are given to him, since apparently he cannot secure himself his bread. As the poet describes here the typical lot of a sort of "village idiot," (24) it is probable that children with an intellectual disability often reached adulthood. The Epic commends them to the care of the king, an additional hint that their life was miserable in a society caring for them insufficiently. The literary juxtaposition of the famous king and the lillu demonstrates the very low social position of persons with an intellectual disability.

Perceptions by the families (sapiental literature)

The proverbial Wisdom literature of Mesopotamia and Israel demonstrates the perception of the impaired persons held by their families, at least within the class of intellectuals. In the so-called Babylonian Theodicy, an intellectual tries to comfort his friend in great pain by reminding him of a common experience:
  The first son will be born as a lillu,
  the second one will be a (successful) hero:. (25)

This problematic consolation compares the sinister fate of the friend with the birth of a son with an intellectual disability, pointing to the hope that time heals all wounds: As a healthy second son will be born, so the fate of the patient will improve in the future likewise. A similar negative evalutation of intellectual disability is found in Israel's sapiential literature. Two epigrams in the Book of Proverbs and one in the Hellenistic Wisdom of Ben Sirach (Greek version) mention born fools:
  Fathering a fool (kesil) brings grief.
  The father of an idiot (nabal) has no joy. (26) (Prov 17:21)
  A foolish son (ben kesil) is a vexation for his father,
  And bitter sorrow to her who bore him. (Prov 17:25)
  A father's shame is in engendering an uneducable son. (27)
  (Sir 22:3)

We learn two things from these texts: It was the family which had to carry the burden of care. (28) In families passing an intellectual profession from generation to generation (scribes etc.), (29) a son with an intellectual disability was a personal and economic catastrophe which impaired the identity of the entire family. Secondly these proverbs point to the tragic familial situation without blaming anybody. By this empathy with the humiliated parents they go beyond the experience of the Babylonian Theodicy. All the more these Old Testament proverbs differ from the awkward question of Jesus' disciples in John 9: "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Personal names

Attention should be given to Mesopotamian personal names like Lillu and Saklu, possibly nicknames hinting at an intellectual impairment. We find these names on food lists for laborers. (30) Analogous names are common in other languages: Hebrew Nabal, Greek Mbros and Mbrion, Latin Baro, Brutus, Varro, and others. However the socio-historical evaluation of personal names is risky: How can we know whether a name was given at birth or later? Can we be certain that the original meaning of a name was always connected with the namebearer?

Neither do we know the exact motivation of giving unfavorable names to a child. Plutarch, giving an idealizing interpretation of names like Caecus ("blind"), praises the morals of calling familiar things as they are (Coriol'. XI 6). Horace (Satir. I 3,43) explains such names as boastful (but ironical?) by a special parental love to the handicapped child. Otherwise some Old Testament narratives are more pragmatic by giving weight to the decision of a desperate mother (1 Sam 4:21; Gen 35:18; and in the second case the father, after the death of the mother, replaced the name by a favorable one. What did children feel when growing up with an unfavorable name? We do not know.

Perception in the omen literature

Mesopotamian omina collections are a rich field of an ancient natural science. The compendium Summa lzbu, "if an anomalous birth," with its two thousand teratological omina mentions mostly physically malformed children and animals, but also the lillu and the female lillatu (6 times). (31) In the same context are mentioned (I 52-69): the dwarf or paralyzed (, the crippled (alcit, kubbulu), the blind, the deaf, the epileptic ("offspring of Sulpae") and the ecstatic (a.kam). Teratology follows special and schematic rules, being in so far a logical or rational science. The birth of a child with a withered right ear will cause the future birth of a lulu in the same family; if it is the left ear, a perfect child will be born (III 14-15). Another anomaly of the right ear ("near its jaw") will cause the birth of a lillu in the land; if it is the left ear, a lillu will be born in the land of the enemy (XI 22-23).

In reverse, "The birth of a lillu causes the scattering of the house/fam-ily; if it is a female, the house will [...]" (I 52-53). If the mother is a woman of the palace, the possessions of the king will be plundered (IV 49). Other omina collections can be compared. They confirm the consequences of such a birth. (32) Or they give a supplementary information: "If lulus are numerous in a city, that city will be happy; if female ones are numerous in a city, that city will [...] (33) In the context of this collection the lame ( ones precede the Mu; the list continues by mentioning the soft, the wise, ... the deaf, blind, ... crippled, ecstatic and weaklings.

Pre-imperial Roman birth omina have a similar weight for the entire society. Livius (see note 37) never speaks about an intellectual disability. Neither is it the case in Greece where birth anomalies are relevant for the family only, not for the future of the society. (34) The cause of a birth anomaly is mentioned only exceptionally in Mesopotamia: (35) "If a woman gives birth to an ecstatic (mahhu), she has been impregnated in the street by a sinful man" (I 68). It seems that at least the Mesopotamian omen texts are not the usual place of tracing birth anomalies back to amoral deeds of the parents. I will come back to this topic below p. 466.

The schematic character of all omen texts hardly permits conclusions for reconstructing the daily Mesopotamian life. But we may ask what practical consequences were drawn from a sinister omen. A member of the upper class could get up to a long and expensive ritual which annihilated the feared bad influence and could end by throwing the malformed animal or child into the water. (36) But financially weaker classes had to choose another solution; possibly they protected themselves by an amulet. Of course, we must take into account that only a few intellectual disabilities are visible at an early age. We saw that one omina collection mentioned numerous lulus in a city and that the Epic of Gilgamesh describes the survival of an adult 1illu, in spite of an insufficient care, as a typical circumstance. (37)

Mentions in curses and in magical texts?

Logical connections between sin and punishment are common in the numerous curses which are found in all ancient cultures (for the Old Testament see especially Deut 28 and Lev 26). Often the cursed people shall suffer blindness, leprosy, dropsy and infertility; less often are mentioned deafness and lameness. Surprisingly epilepsy appears only seldom in curses, (38) despite its visible and very dramatic effects; as seldom as a psychical disorder like madness or panic. (39) But I did not find the threat of an intellectual disability in the curse texts of the Ancient Near East. (40)

An intellectual disability only seems to be mentioned in two similar aramaic incantations from Uruk, written in cuneiform script (Seleucid era?). These peculiar texts, commonly interpreted as protection against a slanderer, end in a curse: (41)
  Lean (woman), be whole (?)!
  Lame (woman), run, find a partner (?)!
  Superfluous (woman), rise up like dirt!
  Speak (masc.), fool (sa-'e-e)!
  Rise (masc.), dumb one ('a-ri-is)!"

The imperative appeals are paradoxical in commanding unreasonable activities, impossible for disabled persons. Obviously several characters of either sex and with various handicaps are addressed here. Therefore this spell can hardly be addressed against one human slanderer, thus explaining the common interpretation of the text. (42) Instead it should probably be interpreted as a binding spell to control demons who shall get disabled in losing their harmful power. Spells for blinding and deafening, and thus disabling, the demons are known from later Aramaic incantation bowls. (43)

Demons often are connected with diseases, in the Ancient Near East. (44) Especially the dangers of dying during or after the birth are to be banned by spells against demonic activities. Surprisingly a physical disability is hardly mentioned, and never an intellectual one. We may see the reason in the much greater and realistic fear that women may die in childbirth and that infants may die at birth in ancient time, contrary to today's parents fear of a disabled child. Epilepsy was very often connected with the activities of various demons. Lugal-urra, "The Lord of the Roof," is found in many Mesopotamian texts and is evident in the Syriac translation of Matthew 17:15 (Jesus' healing of an epileptic boy). (45) Greek and Jewish amulets (phylacteries), worn by adults (and children?), were designed to protect from a (new or old?) epilepsy. (46) The malformed Egyptian deity Bes

Not only Hephaistos and Pan were malformed deities. The oldest one was Bes. Being of lower rank, he was very popular in the Egyptian family religion - in Israe1, (47) too - and spread out to the Hellenistic ecumene. His shape points to various birth anomalies; most eye-catching are the physical traits of dwarfism. Moreover, further visible malformations can be observed which are flowing together into a complex of various physical and intellectual disabilities. Dwarfism going back to a myotonic chondrodystrophy can be connected with an intellectual disability (probability of 25 percent).(48) The androgynous character on many images also can be explained by this same disease. Up to now scholars have not given attention to the fact that Bes' typical hanging tongue is characteristic for Down syndrome (trisomy 21). Furthermore the medical historian R. Watermann explained the grotesque face of Bes by the Hurler syndrome (gargoylism). (49) That disorder is a genetic anomaly connected with an intellectual disability but much rarer than Down syndrome.

The history and the activities of Bes are too complex to be discussed here but attention must be called to two peculiar aspects. Bes' birth anomalies are significantly connected with his helping activities against the deadly risks of pregnancy, birth and baby care. Miscarriages were laid to rest in Bes-shaped coffins. (50) Secondly, Bes is a deity with the multiform character. This ugly deity often acts as a benevolent helper. By his ugliness he terrifies the malevolent demons and chases them away. Hence his appearance on numerous objects in bedrooms and in the realm of cosmetics. The cause of Bes' apotropaic character needs further investigation by Egyptologists.

Lifelong childhood?

Every society defines a different boundary line between childhood and adulthood. But in view of intellectual disability, this boundary often is more or less irrelevant. That can be demonstrated by the Hebrew term, pea. that appears about 20 times in the Old Testament. Mainly pea designates adult persons who are naive and seducible. Their deficits are never ignored, and, surprisingly, never blamed. (51) The Septuagint, by using three different translations for pea, points to three aspects of the semantic field: akakos points to innocence and harmlessness, aphrton to an intellectual deficit, and nepios to infantility. (52)

In ancient languages there is no sharp distinction between innate fools and the only temporary foolishness of people failing to conform to the norm in society. Yet in the 19th century physicians and scholars used "idiot" as the ordinary term designating a person with an intellectual disability. The actual necessity of political correctness now forbids that. But for interpreting ancient texts we have to take seriously the diverging usages of the term "fool." A differentiation by special formulations, such as "born fool," was not standard in ancient times.

In the Old Testament two proverbs can be related to intellectually impaired people:
  The simpleton (pet) believes everything, but the shrewed man
  ('arum) measures his steps. (Prov 14:15) The shrewed man
  perceives  evil and hides, but simpletons continue on
  and suffer the  consequences. (Prov 22:3)

Prayers, too, mention simpletons. Ps 116:6 praises YHWH "who protects the simple(ton)s." Analogous formulations are found in Mesopotamian prayers: Ishtar, Marduk or Shamash will protect or help the ultilu (53) and the The ulalu seems to be, analogous to Hebrew peti, a human with a deficient intellectual disability. Babylonian inscriptions on boundary stones (54) warn from seducing an ulalu to distroy or dislocate this stone that documents the property of the land. Heavy curses are threatened against the seducer. It seems that in the Greek and Hellenistic cultures such persons were rated as lifetime children. Aristotle writes that people with an intellectual disability are like children (Politica 1323a; cp. Mern. et reminisc. 453b). An ancient papyrus mentions a person who is maros kai paidion kai anoetos (SB V 7655, 22-25). A Greek custom of burying some adults like children may give a supplementary confirmation. (55)

Opportunities of integration of intellectually disabled persons within the society

Agricultural activities offered greater chances for the integration of children and adults with an intellectual disability. Until today, especially in economically weak societies, they often were or are working as laborers or maidservants, or they care for old persons. Evidence in ancient texts is less easy, of course. It is possible that Mesopotamian employment contracts for agrarian activities or for elderly care concerned also intellectually disabled children and adults. Such persons often are compliant and able to do simple manual work. Intellectually impaired slaves are mentioned in the Greek collection, Philogelos (nr. 251) and in two Roman epigrams by Martial (VI 39 and XII 93). (56) These may be realistic both in rural and in urbanized regions, as in the above (p. 451) cited Talmudic passage mentioning an epileptic maidservant with an intellectual disability.

In the Ancient Near East the royal palace and the temples had the greatest economic power. They could help to integrate people with a disability. The interest of the affected families and the political interest in societal stability may have gone together. There are some scattered testimonies that people with a disability were employed in the king's palace and administration. Two lists of the royal personnel, receiving a garment, mention a (female) lillatu. Only a simple and undecorated garment was given to hens' Another list of delivered garments mentions two deaf per-sons. (58) Three NeoAssyrian letters mention the king's bread rations for deaf persons. (59) A similar reality may be behind the Sumerian myth Enki and Ninmah; (60) however this text is perhaps a farce. In a contest between the two drunken deities, Enki and Ninmah, the mother goddess Ninmah creates six humans, each of them with a disability. However, the wisdom god Enki is able to find a useful role for each of them. To the blind he appoints the role as chief musician before the king. The one with broken/ paralyzed feet will be a smith (compare the Greek Hephaistos). The one with neither penis nor vagina will work as a eunuch in the king's palace. A woman who could not give birth is decreed to the queen's household. The man who could not bend his outstretched weak hands is appointed as a servant of the king, and the same task will be for the one born as an idiot (11/.1i1). That most of the seven humans shall earn their bread by serving the king can be either an idealizing view or more probably a satirical critique of inappropriate or unfit people in the king's palace and administration.

The second economic power was the temple. Since the third millennium Sumerian lists demonstrate that many persons needing care were given to the temple: "widows, orphans, old people, especially old women, sterile and childless women, cripples, especially blind and deaf persons, beggars and vagabonds, prostitutes, bastards, foundlings, and the ex-voto (artta) personne1." (61) We can suppose that persons with an intellectual disability were among them. The history of dedicated people (Babylonian Assyrian selutu) (62) reaches well into the Medieval monasteries where the oblatio of children by their parents was a fecund source for gaining future monks and nuns. The giving of children with a disability to the monasteries is documented by textual and archaeological materia1. (63) Responsable agents like Ulrich of Cluny complained: "Anything born of honest and pious motivations can, indeed, be turned to bad use, and this holy institution has been corrupted by the greed of parents, who, for the benefit of the rest of the family, commit to monasteries any humpbacked, deformed, dull PI or unpromising children they have...." (64)

In general, agrarian societies can integrate persons with intellectual impairments better than with physical disabilities such as impaired walking or seeing. This fact may be the cause of the rare mentioning of persons with an intellectual disability. It is revealing that classical and medieval miraculous healing narratives often concern blind and paralyzed people. but there is no narrative about people who are only intellectually disabled.

We should not idealize the living conditions of intellectually disabled people. Too often the usually taciturn texts mention mocking. In urbanized regions some had to earn their bread by serving as buffoons, called by the Greek loan word moriones, and dancing for the amusement of party guests. Children and adults with Down syndrome often have a special talent as actors in comical performances, by a mixure of deliberate and unintentional humor they cause great laughter in the audience. However, professional actors, by only pretending an impairment, also pushed themselves forward. We may suppose that being a child made it easier to compete against the sophistication of the professonal mimes. Supplementary physical disabilities could amplify the comic. Performances of moriones were well-liked in antiquity. Few people confessed disgust. Pline the Younger defended this institution and designated any criticism as purely a matter of taste (letters, IX 17). Martial's epigrams demonstrate well the inconsistencies and ambivalences of the Roman society in its use and misuse of the moriones. (65)

Perception(s) in the Christianized late antiquity

Chrysostomos, archbishop of Constantinople in the fourth century and a famous preacher, mentions in three of his sermons mockeries against the physei maroi. (66) He qualifies them as "troublesome and unsupportable," but shows at least some pity, contrary to the proud folk whose hubris deserves only derision. All three citations are in a polemical context against proud people and the pagan philosophers. It is noticeable that Chiysostomos does not criticize the mockers though there are Bible passages criticizing such actions. (67) This theologian, who expresses great social sensibility for the poor in other contexts, here demonstrates a lack of cherishing concern. Perhaps it is the result of the narrow limits for discerning an intellectual disability. Other vital interests were more urgent.

At the same time, the North African bishop and famous theologian, Augustine, mentions moriones "used for the amusement of the sane and fetching higher prices than the sane when appraised for the slave mar-ket." (68) Obviously this institution survived in Christianized society. Augustine criticizes the amusement at another's misfortune. He points to the absurdity of being amused by another man's silliness, disliking to be a simpleton himself These moriones "are so silly as to make a show of their fatuity for the amusement (ad movendum risum) of clever people, even with idiotic gestures (cerriti)." (69) Augustine distinguishes between them and persons merely slow in intellect, "for this is very commonly said of others"; and he goes as far as to say that "they are born with faculties akin to brute animals." Intellectual disability is a deficit and a catastrophe in the eyes of this intellectual theologian, and also of the society of his time, quite obviously.

All the more surprising is Augustine's praise of a rnorio "who was yet (tame.n!) so Christian, that although he was patient to the degree of strange folly (mira jiituitate) with any amount of injury to himself, he was yet so impatient of any insult to the name of Christ, or, in his own person, to the religion with which he was imbued (imbutus), (70) that he could never refrain, whenever his gay and clever audience proceeded to blaspheme the sacred name, as they sometimes would in order to provoke his patience, from pelting them with stones; and on these occasions he would show no favour even to persons of rank." (71) Augustine continues with an unexpected theological evaluation: "Such persons are predestined and brought into being, as I suppose, in order that those who are able should understand that God's grace and the Spirit, 'which blows where it wills,' does not pass over any kind of capacity in the sons of mercy, nor in like manner does it pass over any kind of capacity in the children of Gehenna, so that 'whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord." (72)

Augustine remained far from idealization of disabilities. He took to heart the bad lot of ill and impaired children. Repeatedly he deplores "the pains of the parvuli": they carry a heavy burden from the day of their birth. Augustine asks himself how we can believe in an almighty and just God when being faced with the suffering of these innocent children. Intellectually impaired children are only a part of a much greater troop of impaired children. Augustine grieves for them in enumerating "blind, one-eyed, bleary-eyed, deaf, dumb, limping, deformed, crippled, plagued by worms, leprous, paralyzed, epileptic children," in addition "compulsive, violent-tempered, anxious, oblivious, sluggish children, without reason, and so silly that you may live rather with animals than with these children." (73) I am seeing these children before me, and I am in distress about their daily life and future. Was their fate simular to the description of a lillu in the Epic of Gilgamesh?

Some consequences for Biblical exegesis and Christian theology

Old Testament

A few texts could be detected which indicate an intellectual disability perceived by Old Testament authors. These texts were overlooked a very long time and I fear that the evidence may still not be strong enough to persuade all readers. Persons with an intellectual disability lived and live also today at the margins of society, but the margins of then and now are different. Disabilities are perceived depending on whether they occur in an agrarian, industrial, or intellectual wall of life. The Israelite intelligentsia, most closely comparable to the actual lifestyle of a modern reader, was a very thin layer of society. Its members perceived an intellectual disability as a disaster for the family, as formulated in the sapiential literature. Con-spicously this literature renounces any assignment of guilt to these conditions, but clear-sightedly describes the difficult consequences of the reality they manifested.

The majority of Israelites was occupied in agriculture. As no mention of an intellectual disability in this milieu could be detected, we are obliged to speculate. Analogies from today's rural societies, and presumably also from old Mesopotamian texts, lead to the supposition that those people, at least those with a slight disability, were occupied in agricultural activities, inside and outside of their clan. How many sons or daughters with an intellectual disability, whose fathers were debtors, were "sold" and had to work as slaves or maidservants? How great was the risk of vulnerability to sexual abuse because of their social dependency and naivety? The prophetic accusation "Son and father go to the same maidservant (naara)" (Amos 2:7) may refer to this risk. The ideal case is Boas' active responsibility for protecting the sexual integrity of his maidservants (Ruth 2:9-15; cp. 3:10). Many legal and prophetic texts relating to the protection of socially weak people may include persons with an intellectual disability. They wait to be detected by future exegetes.

The actual tendency of differentiating the various marginal groups is a modern phenomenon which does not reflect the ancients' mentality. Their use of the same terms for both an occasional foolishness and for an innate disability points to a perception which modern exegetes have to take seriously. Indeed this lack of differentiation seems to be obsolete today, not only out of moral considerations but also on evidence of the great medical and pedagogic successes due to modern differentiation between various disabilities. On the other hand the actual convention of "political correctness" leads to some self-critical questions: Is it helpful for the integration of people with an intellectual disability, when we strictly separate "them" from "us" who are only temporarilly foolish? The late theologian Ulrich Bach spoke of a tendential "social racism."(74) Does the common substitution of pejorative terms ("idiot" etc.) with emotionally neutral ones diminish or deepen the ditch between "them" and "us"? What critique must be leveled against the tendency to more and more intricate formulations motivated by avoiding any depreciation of people with an intellectual disability?

New Testament

First I will point to an important activity of Jesus which in this regard deserves special attention: Jesus' frequent manual touching and being touched by persons seeking help. Many people with an intellectual disability, by their sensibility, can teach the great value of the reciprocal communication of human touch. The Synoptic Gospels mainly use the term haptesthai for touching. The middle form of this verb may relate to this reciprocity. Most passages are found in the context of the healing narratives.(75) But when Jesus touches the disciples, afraid from their vision of his Transfiguration (Matt 17:7), he intends a consoling and strengthening effect, far from modern medicine (egerthete kai me phobeisthe). The same can be said about Jesus placing his hands on the children brought to him to be touched.(76) Were there among them children with physical and intellectual disabilities? We are not informed for what reason these children were brought to Jesus, instead of coming independently. Were they too young or had they a disability, at least the epileptic boy brought by his father was capable of walking at his age of nine years?

No New Testament text mentions explicitly people with an intellectual disability. This silence attracts attention in view of the sensible awareness of the poor and needy in the New testament writings. Espedaily the gospels give a prominent place to these people, with or without a physical disability. Again we have to speculate: When the texts are speaking of day laborers, may we suppose among them also are people with an intellectual disability? They could do this work better than those with a physical disability. The latter were rather forced to live as beggars. Perhaps we are allowed to say: a physical disability often caused a life as ptochos, an intellectual disability more often a life as penes.

No healing narrative mentions an intellectual disability. The narrated symptoms of the possessed people point to a psychic disorder, and the description of epilepsy in Mark 9 mentions only physical symptoms. Was the lot of people with an intellectual disability less poignant in the eyes of Jesus and of the New Testament writers? Did Jesus heal primarily ptOchoi? In the following section these open questions shall be confronted with some aspects of the reception history.

Reception history of the healing narratives

There are two especially damaging and influential consequences of the reception history.

1. The ideal of an overall healing activity by Jesus is not confirmed by the New Testament; however, this ideal often negatively influences the perception of the message of biblical texts. Reducing Jesus' healing service to a success in the sense of modern medical technology hardly represents the New Testament writings adequately. Such misinterpretation is a cynical blow against all people with a lifelong disability and with faith in Jesus Christ. It takes no account of the undenial fact that during Jesus' lifetime only a small minority of people at best was healed in this sense; at the pool of Bethesda Jesus did not heal all diseases (John 5; cp. Mark 1:38; 3:9; 7:24). The information about Jesus' "multi-functional" touching and being touched are opening up a better way for finding solidarity, faith, and fulfilled life.

2. Though Jesus denied a causal connection of disability and sin (John 9:3-4), such an idea, lurking at the depths of human souls and influencing also Jesus' disciples (John 9:2), sneaks into the interpretation of the biblical healings. The pseudo-Clementine homilies (19,22; third century) are an early example of reversing Jesus' unambiguous denial in John 9:3 of the claim that a personal sin can be the cause of blindness. A voice of the official medieval church is the famous and popular Franciscan preacher, Berthold of Regensburg, who influenced the masses. He preached that sexual intercourse during religious holidays and Lent is the cause of "leprous, epileptic, blind, crippled, dumb, and silly [!] children." (77) Such interpretations are poisoning the collective memory more than the corrections by well-intentioned theologians can undo. Theology cannot shift from responsibility, at least its co-responsibility, for this disaster.

Autonomy and neediness

Today's admirable effbrts for strengthening the autonomy of people with an intellectual disability are necessary and often beneficial for their personal development and their civil rights. Paradoxically the praise of autonomy cannot hinder a simultaneous tendency towards more abortions of fetuses related to pre-natal diagnostics; statistics refer to 90 percent abortions because of a diagnosed Down syndrome. These fetuses have no chance of an autonomous choice. Their shocked parents, while feeling unsufficiently supported by a society ostensibly achievement-oriented and hedonistic, are forced to decide in a problematic hurry. It must be feared that in the future this society will follow the temptation to reduce the costs of social politics by more abortions, and at the other margin of life by promotion of voluntary euthanasy. That possibility stands in sharp contrast to fundamental religious traditions of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Such a development would lead back to similar mentalities of Greek, Romans, and Nazi Germans. In antiquity, infants with an obvious physical disability were frequently abandoned and not reared. (78) In the 21st century society is rather deficient in methods for integrating persons with intellectual disability into community life and operations. Such tendencies demonstrate a great uncertainty about ftindamental values of human life. Theologians are therefore challenged to develop new answers. The following suggests a "Christology of neediness," based on the ptocheia of Christ according to 2 Cor 8:9 and stimulated in parts by the above mentioned theologian Ulrich Bach. In Jesus Christ God became a needy human. Jesus' permanent participation in the human condition of neediness began by his birth. His mother bore him, wrapped him in diapers, and breastfed him. His parents reared him and protected him by their escape into Egypt. In his adulthood he needed the assistance of his disciples, the support of rich women (Luke 8:1-3), and of people accomodating this group of wandering prophets (often rejected: Matt 10:14; Luke 9:53). In his agony he cried out: "I am thirsty." The son of God had to ask people for care in all this neediness. According to 2 Cor 8:9 there is a dialectical relation between Christ's pthcheia and our becoming rich. The New Testament writings teach us a fundamental neediness and a partnership of humans who are in need of help and simultaneously are able to help others. It is physically, psychologically, and spiritual evident empirically that people with an intellectual disability are willing and able to participate constructively in this partnership. (79)


* A shorter version was presented at the International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (Amsterdam 2012: session Children and Families in the Ancient World Consultation). I thank Prof. j. Harold Ellens (Michigan) for his helpful improvements of my text.

(1.) intellectual disability is here understood as "a general and all inclusive category that incorporates persons who are congenitally affected, such as people with Down syndrome, those who have indured brain injuries resulting in mental retardation and cognitive deficiency. and those who otherwise have cognitive dysfunctions of various sorts." By that definition I follow Amos Yong, The Bible. Disability and the Church: A New Vision of the People of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011), 96.

(2.) Though my speciality is in Old Testament and Mesopotamian studies, I glance as well into the Greek and Roman world. This is an initial probe into the possibility of dialogue with scholars in classical studies and the modern psychosocial sciences.

(3.) Therefore, intellectual disability is not discussed by Saul M. Olyan, Disability in the Hebrew Bible: Interpreting Mental and Physical Differences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

(4.) For these (and more) terms see the recent monograph: Edgar Kellenberger, Der Schutz der Einfaltigen: Menschen mit einer geistigen Behind erung in der Bibel unci in weiteren Quelkn (Zurich: Theologischer Verlag, 2011).

(5.) So e.g., typhlon ek genetes (Evang. of John 9:1; typhlos egennethe 9:19,20). Further examples in C. Lacs, "Silent Witnesses: Deaf-Mutes in Graeco-Roman Antiquity," Classical World 104 (2011): 451-473.

(6.) When Galen (De locis affectis 7) tells about his collegue Archigenes treating a mbrotheis, the aorist participle is not plausible for a birth defect. Rudolph E. Siegel, Galen on the Affected Parts (Basel: S. Karger, 1976), 84 gives an ironic interpretation: "Archigenes applies remedies to the heads of persons suffering from memory defects, and he will administer everything to the head in the attempt to cure some moron."

(7.) C[hris] F. Goodey, A History of Intelligence and "Intellectual Disability": The Shaping of Psychology in Early Modern Europe (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 212 (without giving a source reference).

(8.) Galen, De symptomatum causis 11 7 (in combination with lethe "forgetting").

(9.) Hippocrates, Praesagia Coaca 230.

(10.) Hippocrates, De virg. 1,17-18 (development: embrothe kardia narke "lethargy" ... paranoia). The newest commented edition translates: "the heart becomes numb" (by too much blood); see Rebecca Flemming and A.B. Hanson, "Hippocrates' Peri parthenion, Early Science and Medicine 3 (1998): 241-252.

(11.) Hippocrates Praesagia Coaca 182.

(12.) Hippocrates, De semine 1 2,1 (sinews not enabling an erection, owing to sexual impotence). - Hippocrates, De cliaeta II 54 (moros as character of a plant).

(13.) In opposition to anchinoia "sagacity" (Gal., Quod animi mores, edition of the complete works by Carl G. Kuhn [Leipzig: C. Knobloch, 1821-18331 IV 821; ibid., 817: children from the morotatos until to the synetotatos). For marosis as pathological loss of memory see Rufus of Ephesus, Oeuvres, ed. Charles Daremberg (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1879), 363. For morosis as numbness see Hippocrates., Praesagia Coaca 194. Further Galen, De symptomatum diff III 10: to distinguish mbriisis from anoia and paraphrosyne "hallucinating confusion"; Galen is more interested in paraphrosynein than in the only shortly mentioned muria kai mirosis, explicated as deficiency of thinking (but anoia results from paralysis of thinking, paraphrosyne from wrong motion of thinking). Galen, De locis affectis III 67: marrisis results from a loss of mneme and synesis. There are no clear criteria for distinction between morbsis, mania, lethargos, phrenitis, paraphrosyne, apache and melancholia (Galen, De lads affectis III 11; Quad animi mores. Kuhn IV 777; commentary to the prorrhet., Kuhn XVI 707).

(14.) According to the information by the database of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae: Galen in his commentary to the Prorrheticon of Hippocrates (Kuhn XVI 696).

(15.) Aretaeus, edidit Carolus Hude (CMG 2: Berlin: In aedibus Academiae scientiarum, 1923 = [.sup.2]1958), 39.

(16.) Marten Stol, Epilepsy in Babylonia (CM 2; Groningen: Styx, 1993); Hippocrates, De rnorbo sacra X 1-6.

(17.) Hippocrates, De morbo sacro 1-3 (kata genos); Prarrhet. II 5 (syngenes); Herodot, Hist. III 33 (the furious Persian king Kambyses suffers ek genees from the sacred disease).

(18.) This case and the following ones are presented by JoAnn Scurlock and Burton Andersen, Diagnoses in Assyrian and Babylonian Medicine: Ancient Sources, Translations and Modern Medical Analyses (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2005), 331-336.

(19.) The present ancient text ascribes these symptoms to the "offspring of (the god) Sulpae" who often is responsible for epileptic attacks (perhaps because of a supposed close similarity to the spastic convulsions of cerebral palsy).

(20.) Danielle Cadelli, "Lorsque l'enfant parait malade," Ktema 22 (1997): 11-33. at 18-19.

(21.) See Scurlock and Andersen, Diagnoses, 424. - There are a few cases of excavated bones confirming the existence of Down syndrome in ancient times; see Kellenberger. Schutz der Einfaltigen, 62 (here also we have information about the archaeological evidence of cerebral palsy in ancient Egypt).

(22.) Lengthy presentation and critical discussion in: Amos Yong, Theology and Down Syndrome. Reimagining Disability in Late Modernity (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007), 79-116.

(23.) Table X, lines 270-278; translation according to Andrew R. George, The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 695.

(24.) See the interpretation by A.R. George. The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic. - An ancient commentary explains lulu by "without reason" (la temu); see Wilfred G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960), 78.

(25.) Lines 262-263. For an English translation see (for instance) The Context of Scripture, ed. William W. Hallo (Leiden: Brill, 1997), vol. I, 494.

(26.) Possibly kesIl points to an intellectual deficit, nabal to the waywardness and seeming malice of some intellectually impaired persons.

(27.) apaideutos; for the meaning "ignorant" compare Josephus (Ant. II 285; C. Apion. II 3,37,38,130) and the New Testament (2 Tim 2:23 moros kai apaideutos).

(28.) The same is claimed for Mesopotamia by Neal H. Walls, "The Origins of the Disabled Body: Disability in Ancient Mesopotamia," in This Abled Body: Rethinking Disability in Biblical Studies, ed. Hector Avalos (Semeia Studies 55; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007), 1330, at 23.

(29.) Compare C.A. Rollston, Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel: Epigraphic Evidence from the Iron Age (ABSt 11; Leiden: Brill, 2010), 215-216.

(30.) Kellenberger, Schutz der Einfaltigen, 65 and 144 with note 259.

(31.) I 52--53; III 14; IV 49; XI 22-23. Text and translation: Erie Leichty, The Omen Series Summa lzbu (TCS 4; Locust Valley, NY: J. J. Augustin, 1970). The newest edition is a dissertation by Nicla de Zorzi, Divinazione e intertestualita La seria divinatoria Shumma Lzbu e il suo orizzonte culturale (Venezia: Universita Ca' Foscari, 2011), tesi_de-zorzi_venezia.pdf?sequence=2.

(32.) "If a lillu who does not hear (obey) is born in a house, the house will be scattered." Wolfram von Soden, "Die zwei Tafelen der Unterserie ;Summa Ea liballit-ka von alandimmu," Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie 71 (1981): 109-121, at 114 and 119.

(33.) Sally M. Freedman, If a City is Set on a Height (Philadelphia: S.N. Kramer Fund, 1999), 3233.

(34.) Robert Garland, The Eye of the Beholder: Deformity and Disability in the Greco-Roman World (London: Duckworth, 1995), 65-70.

(35.) See Walls, "Origins," 25. 36. Stefan Maul, Zukunftsbewaltigung: Eine Untersuchung altorientalischen Dekens anhand der babylonisch-assyrischen Loserituale (namburbi) (Main7: Philipp von Zabem, 1994), 336.

(37.) Other ancient cultures were faced with the same problems. Livius (De urbe condita XXIII 57 and passim) brings many examples of portenta/prodigia which were thrown into the water or killed otherwise, on the Etruscian priests' advice and with the consent both of the political authorities and the Roman population terrified by the sorrows from the Punic Wars. compare David Engels, Das romische Varzeichenwesen (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2007), 443-448. The victims were always persons with visible and confusing physical disabilities. Especially horrifying were the hermaphrodites. We never hear about a victim with an intellectual disability in this context.

(38.) Stol, Epilepsy, 146.

(39.) Deut 28:28,34 (Siggaon, mesugga, timmahon).

(40.) See Kellenberger, Schutz der Einfaltigen, 135 with note 236 about seeming exceptions, e.g., destroying the power of regents.

(41.) According to the translation of lines 15-18 by Mark J. Geller, "The Aramaic incantation in cuneiform script,"Jaarbericht Ex Oriente Lux 35-36 (1997-2000): 127146.

(42.) Geller, "Aramaic Incantation," 131: "The reason for the shift in the gender might be to counter either a male or female rival, or alternatively, the use of the feminine might be an additional insult. The idea is to disgrace or ridicule the oppenent."

(43.) Some examples: Cyrus H. Gordon in Orientalia 10 (1941): 125. S. Shaked and other, Aramaic Bowl Spus. Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Bowls (Leiden: Mill, 2013): 56 and passim. J.B. Segal, Catalogue of the Aramaic and Mandaic Incantation Bowls in the British Museum (London: British Museum Press, 2000), 89. Perhaps the same bowl mentions also "maddening spirits"; likewise a Mandaic bowl (ibid., 108) with a spell against demons maddening/seducing (wt) the Savior spirit Manda dHiia. Moreover, human rivals shall be blinded and deafened by a spell: See Joseph Naveh and Shaul Shaked, Amulets and Magic Bowls: Aramaic Incantations of Late Antiquity Uerusalem: The Magnes Press, third edition 1998), 165. For Greece see Christopher A. Faraone, "The Agonistic Context of Early Greek Spells," in idem, ed., Magika Hiera (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991): 3-32, at 12.

(44.) A rich source material is collected by John G. Gager, ed., Curses Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

(45.) Stol, Epilepsy, 16-19. The Greek text says seleniazetai.

(46.) See for instance Roy Kotansky, "Incantations and Prayers for Salvation on Inscribed Greek Amulets," in Magika Hiera, ed. Christopher A. Faraone (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 107-137, at 117-118. Naveh and Shaked, Amulets, 179 (to line 9).

(47.) C. Herrmann, Agyptische Amulette aus Palastina/lsrael (Fribourg and Gottingen: Academic Press / Vandenhoeck, 1994-2006), passim.


(49.) Rembert Watermann, Blida aus dem Lande da Ptah und. Imhotep (Koln: Balduin Pick, 1958), 123.

(50.) Lexikon der Aegyptologie, ed. Wolfgang Helck (Wiesbaden: Otto Harassowitz, 1972-92), vol. I, 722.

(51.) Likewise at Qumran: 1QpHab 12,4-5; 11Q5 18,3-5; CD 13,6. - However CD 15,15 forbids that a peri enters the assembly.

(52.) akakos: Prov 1:4,22; 8:5; 9:4; 14:15. aphrOn: Prov 7:7; 9:6,16; 14:18; 19:25; 22:3; 27:12. nepios: Ps 18:8; 114:6; 118:30; Prov 1:32.

(53.) Kellenberger, Schutz der Einfaltigen, 128-129.

(54.) Kathryn E. Slanski, The Babylonian Entitlement narus (kudurrus): A study in their form and finction (Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, 2003).

(55.) See the research by Patty Baker and Sarah Francis (not yet published; provisionally

(56.) Perhaps a similar case is the fatua named Hecaste who lived in Seneca's household (Seneca junior, letters, nr. 50).

(57.) Archives Royales de Mari, vol. 21, ed. jean-Marie Durant (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1983). 333; vol. 23. ed. Guillaume Bardet (1984), 446. The lillatu named jadida is followed by others receiving a simple garment; after her are mentioned: a (prophetic) ecstatic and a singer.

(58.) Archives Royales de Mari, voL 18, ed. Olivier Rouault (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1977), 74. Are the two deaf persons (sukkuku) registered without name or by a nickname ("the dear)? All other persons were registered by name.

(59.) State Archives of Assyria, vol. 18, ed. Frances Reynolds (Helsinki: University Press, 2003), 9597. It is not clear whether these rations are alms or a salary. The first seems to be more probable.

(60.) English translation in the Electronic Corpus of Sumerian Literature (

(61.) Ignace J. Gelb, "The arua institution." Revue d'Assyriologie 66 (1972): 1-32, at 10.

(62.) Fundamental: Raymond P. Dhougerty, The Sirkutu of Babylonian Deities (New Haven, Cr: Yale University Press, 1923).

(63.) Archaeological informations in Decrypter la difference: Lecture archeologique et historique de la place des personnes handicapees dans les communautes du passe, ed. Valerie Delattre (Paris: editions CQFD, 2009).

(64.) Cited by John Boswell, The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, paperback edition 1998), 298. See also Peter Venerable's similar complaints, cited by Joseph H. Lynch, Simoniacal Entry into Religious Life from 1000 to 1260: A social economic and legal study (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1976), 41 45 (among the oblates are also stult!).

65. Compare Bert Gevaert. "Mentally and Physically Challenged Persons in Martial's Epigrams," in Behinderungen und Beintrachtigungen, ed. Rupert Breitwieser (Oxford: Archeopress, 2012), 85-90.

(66.) Patrologia Graeca LVIII 570 (to Man 18:6); LIX 352 (to John 11:30); LX 601 (to Rom 12:1).

(67.) Sir 8:4 (me prospaize apaideuto); for physical problems see Lev 19:14; Dent 27:18,

(68.) De pecc. mer. I 66. For the following compare the more detailed article by Edgar Kellenberger, "Augustin und die Menschen mit einer geistigen Behinderung: Der Theologe als Beobachter und Herausgeforderter," Theologische Zeitschrift 67 (2011) 25-36.

(69.) De pecc. men I 32. Instead of cerriti other manuscripts read cirrati (frizzy-haired, unkempt), possibly the lectio difficilior. Unkempt hear in Mesopotamia may be an analogy, see Kellenberger, Schutz der Einfaltigen, 146 with note 266.

(70.) We would like to know how he learned the Christian tradition.

(71.) De pecc. mer I 32. - C. Laes supposes that this morio pelted the blasphemers with stones because he often had experienced being pelted himself by stones: Christian Laes, "Learning from Silence: Disabled Children in Roman Antiquity," Arctos 42 (2008): 85--122, at 116.

(72.) The end of the passage demonstrates Augustine's anti-Pelagian and anti-Manichean intentions: "How will they be able to attribute to him a previous life of so disgraceful a character that he deserved to be born a fatuus, and at the same time of so highly meritorious a character as to entitle him to a preference in the award of the grace of Christ over many men of the acutest intellect?"

(73.) Opus imperfection VI 16.

(74.) Ulrich Bach, Getrenntes wird versohnt: wider den Sozialrassismus in Theologie und Kirche (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neulcirchner Verlag, 1991). Idem,"Gesunde" und "Behinclerte": Gegen das Apart-heidsdenken in Kirche und Gesellschaft (Giitersloh: Chr. Kaiser, 1994). Ulrich Bach himself lived with a polymyelitis.

(75.) See Jesus' touching in the context of leprosy (Mark 1:41 par.), fever (Matt 8:15; but Mark kratein), deafness (Mark 7:33); blindness (Mark 8:22; Matt 9:29; 20:34); the servant's ear (Luke 22:51). Jesus is touched by a haemorrhagic woman (Mark 5:27-31 par.); sick people want to touch him (Mark 3:10 pan; at least the fringe of his robe 6:56 par.); a woman anoints him (Luke 7:39). See also kratein in Mark 5:41 par. (Jairus' daughter) and piazein in Act 3:7.

(76.) haptesthai in Mark 10:13 and Luke 18:15; (epi)tithesthai tas cheiras in Mark 10:16 and Matt 19:13,15. This touching seems to be the chief purpose; only Mark brings two additional traits, the wish of a prayer and the blessing by Jesus (kateulogein).

(77.) Bertholdus Ratisbonensis, Vollstandige Ausgabe seiner Predigten (Wien: Braumuller, 1862; reprint Berlin: de Gruyter, 1965), vol. I, 323. Compare Remo J. lanucci, The Treatment of the Capital Sins and the Decalogue in the German Sermons of Berthold von Regensburg (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1942), 28-30.

(78.) Among numerous studies: Erkki Koskenniemi, The Exposure of Infants among Jews and Christians in Antiquity (SWBAS 2/4; Sheffield: Phoenix Press, 2009).

(79.) Based on Paul's remarks about moria in 1 Cor 1:18-2:5, the Pentecostal systematic theologian Amos Yong (The Bible [footnote 11, 96-115) presents an impressive and creative draft of an ecclesiology of participation by methods for including people with an intellectual disability.
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Date:Dec 1, 2013
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