Why Did the “Leper” Get Under Jesus’ Skin? Emotion Theory and Angry Reaction in Mark 1:40-45

In: Horizons in Biblical Theology
F. Scott Spencer Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond 8040 Villa Park Drive, Suite 250, Richmond, VA 23228 USA

Search for other papers by F. Scott Spencer in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


Accepting the more difficult reading in Mark 1:41 that Jesus was “moved with anger” (ὀργισθείς) in response to a leper’s request for healing, this article investigates the motives behind this vehement response, which persists after Jesus cures the man (1:43). A close analysis of Mark 1:40-45, in conjunction with key Markan co-texts (6:14-29; 10:35-52; 14:32-36; 15:6-15) and ancient and modern theories of emotion, demonstrates that the leper chiefly provokes Jesus’ ire by belittling his deep desire or will to heal (ἐὰν θέλῃς). Discussions of anger (ὀργή/ira) by Aristotle and Seneca serve as primary resources from Greco-Roman antiquity. In contemporary thought, the study of emotion has recently surged in various disciplines, not least in philosophy, psychology, and literary criticism. Biblical scholarship has just begun to engage with this material in examining characters’ emotions. This article sets forth an example and framework for further exploration of the passionate Markan Jesus.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 595 71 7
Full Text Views 263 8 0
PDF Views & Downloads 117 13 0