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Healing the blind near Jericho

File:Christus Bartimaeus Johann Heinrich Stoever Erbach Rheingau.JPG
Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus, by Johann Heinrich Stöver, 1861.

Each of the three synoptic gospels tells of Jesus healing the blind near Jericho, as he passed through that town, shortly before his passion.

Mark 10:46-52 tells only of a man named Bartimaeus (literally "Son of Timaeus") being present, as Jesus left Jericho, making him one of the few named people to be miraculously cured by Jesus. Matthew 20:29-34 is a similar account of two blind men being healed outside of Jericho, but gives no names. Luke 18:35-43 tells of one unnamed blind man, but seems to place the event instead as when Jesus approached Jericho. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges asserts a reconciliation of the gospel accounts by observing two Jerichos—Old Jericho and New Jericho—meaning that whether Jesus encountered the blind on the way in to Jericho or the way out of Jericho depends on which Jericho was in the individual writer's perspective as Jesus went between the Jerichos.[1]

These men together would be the second of two healings of blind men on Jesus' journey from the start of his travels from Bethsaida (in Mark 8:22-26) to Jerusalem, via Jericho.[2] It is possible, though not certain, that Bartimaeus heard about the first healing, and so knew of Jesus' reputation.[3]

Son of David

Vernon K. Robbins emphasizes that the healing of blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52 is the last of Jesus’ healings in Mark and serves a transitional function as it links Jesus’ teaching about the suffering, dying, and rising of the Son of Man in Mark 8-10 with Jesus’ Son of David activity in Jerusalem.[4][5] Robbins states that the pericope also brings the Markan healing tradition to a climax in a story that blends the Markan emphasis on the disciples’ inability to understand the nature of Jesus’ messiahship (their blindness) with the necessity to follow Jesus into Jerusalem, where he embodies suffering-dying kingship in a form that makes him recognizable to Gentiles as Son of God.[6]

Paula Fredriksen, who believes that titles such as "Son of David" were applied to Jesus only after the crucifixion and resurrection, argued that Mark and Matthew placed that healing with the proclamation "Son of David!" just before "Jesus' departure for Jerusalem, the long-foreshadowed site of his sufferings."[7] The title "Son of David" is a messianic name.[2][8] Thus, Bartimaeus' exclamation was, according to Mark, the first public acknowledgement of the Christ, after St. Peter's private confession at Mark 8:27–30.


The naming of Bartimaeus is unusual in several respects: (a) the fact that a name is given at all, (b) the strange Semitic-Greek hybrid, with (c) an explicit translation "Son of Timaeus." Some scholars see this to confirm a reference to a historical person;[9] however, other scholars see a special significance of the story in the figurative reference to Plato's Timaeus who delivers Plato's most important cosmological and theological treatise, involving sight as the foundation of knowledge. [10]

According to Bruce Robison, an Episcopal priest, Bartimaeus can be compared favorably to the Apostles and others in Mark's story; Bartimeaus is different from the others:

He first calls out as the party comes by, and when Jesus asks him what he wants he cuts right to the chase. No bargaining for position and status, like James and John. No trick legalistic questions, like the Pharisees. No playing to the crowd, like the Rich Young Man—who wanted to be sure that everybody knew, we’ll remember, that he had kept all the commandments since he was young. Bartimaeus isn’t trying to impress anybody, not seeking a gold star at the top of his spelling test. Not wanting to be the greatest in the coming Kingdom, or to sit at the right hand of Jesus in his glory.
—The Rev. Bruce Robison[11]

By throwing his cloak away in 10:46-52, Bartimaeus gave up all he had to follow Jesus.[2][3][8]

Pope Benedict XVI has compared the whole church to the blind Bartimaeus.[12]


  1. ^ "Bartimaeus healed at Jericho [Luke 18:35]". Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 1891. 
  2. ^ a b c "Reflections: The blind Bartimaeus: Mark 10:46-52," October 24, 2009, The Manila Bulletin, The Manila Bulletin website, citing365 Days with the Lord, (St. Paul's, Makati City, Philippines) from St. Paul's website (dead link). Accessed October 28, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Phyllis Kersten, "What Bartimaeus wanted: Mark 10:46-52," Christian Century, October 20, 2009, found at Christian Century website. Accessed October 28, 2009.
  4. ^ Jesus the Teacher: A Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation of Mark by Vernon K. Robbins 2009, ISBN 978-0-8006-2595-5. 41-43.
  5. ^ Vernon K. Robbins, “The Healing of the Blind Bartimaeus (10:46-52) in the Marcan Theology,” Journal of Biblical Literature 92 (1973), 224-243 [1]
  6. ^ Vernon K. Robbins, "The Reversed Contextualization of Psalm 22 in the Markan Crucifixion: A Socio-Rhetorical Analysis" [2] (1992)
  7. ^ Fredriksen, From Jesus to Christ, p. 181.
  8. ^ a b Barrie Wetherill, "Jesus cures blind Bartimaeus," from The Life of Jesus Christ, found at easy English Bible study. Accessed October 28, 2009.
  9. ^ Vincent Taylor. The Gospel according to St. Mark. 1966 St. Martin's Press Inc. p 448.
  10. ^ Mary Ann Tolbert, Sowing the Gospel: Mark's World in Literary-Historical Perspective 1996, Fortress Press. p189.
  11. ^ Bruce Robison, "Sermon, Sunday, October 25, 2009, Twenty-First after Pentecost, 2009, on Mark 10: 46-52 (RCL Proper 25B)," found at The Rector's Page. Accessed October 28, 2009.
  12. ^ "Pontiff Urges African Church to Have Courage," October 25, 2009, from ZENIT's Web page, found at website. Accessed October 28, 2009.

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