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Spit in Your Eye: The Blind Man of Bethsaida and the Blind Man of Alexandria

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 January 2008

Harris Manchester College, Oxford, OX1 3TD, England


The account of Vespasian's use of spittle to heal a blind man at Alexandria has long been noted as a parallel to the use of spittle in Mark's healing of the Blind Man of Bethsaida, but little has been made of the temporal proximity of these two stories. Vespasian's healings formed part of the wider Flavian propaganda campaign to legitimate the new claimant to the imperial throne; to many Jewish ears this propaganda would have sounded like a usurpation of traditional messianic hopes. This article argues that Mark introduced spittle into his story of the Blind Man of Bethsaida to create an allusion to the Vespasian story as part of a wider concern to contrast the messiahship of Jesus with such Roman imperial ‘messianism’.

© 2008 Cambridge University Press

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