In the Common English Bible sampler, in Matthew 26, verse 6 we see this;
“When Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon, who had leprosy,…”
It’s a difficult phrase to translate, apparently. The more traditional way of translating it is as the TNIV has it:
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper,
Sometimes they capitalize it as the TNIV does, like it’s a title. Other translations don’t capitalize it, but it still seems to be just the way this guy was known in public, “Simon the leper”.
The NLT goes off in a little different direction with this:
Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy.
Well, maybe he had previously had it, but I think that kind of detracts from the story that is being told. (UPDATE:I was just thinking about the NLT rendering, that Simon had previously had leprosy. Well, the fact that he had previously had it means that he doesn’t any more, right? That might give us the answers to my questions. Maybe Simon was a man who had been healed by Jesus.
But, you know, from the Greek text I can’t find any evidence that Simon had been healed of leprosy, or that he had previously had leprosy. What I see is “leprous Simon”, a leper named Simon.
(Unfortunately, once again I see the NLT translators adding their own interpretation or speculation to their translation.))
The New Century Version has this:
Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, who had a skin disease.
Eeew! Sounds nasty! 😉 But maybe it’s a good way to translate it.
The HCSB give us this:
While Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had a serious skin disease,
OK, we see a pattern here, don’t we?
The guy apparently had some kind of a skin disease, bad enough that it was the way he was identified. Now if the CEB said Jesus was at the house of Simon the Leper, what would the reader think? That he was at some guy’s house, period.
But ti wasn’t just some guy’s house, this guy had a serious skin disease, and it was used to identify him. And I think the CEB’s rendering is about as good as it can get.
But it brings up some questions in my mind: Does the fact that Simon had leprosy make him unclean, which would be another reason for Jesus’ enemies to criticize Him, because Jesus was eating with, and even simply entering a place occupied by an unclean person? And if this Simon currently had leprosy, why was he living in his own private home? Didn’t lepers have to live in colonies apart from the general population?
At any rate, I think CEB did a fine job with this one.