A non-stigmatizing Bible


  • Abrahão ROTBERG Professor of Dermatology, University of São Paulo, Brazil; Chairman of the Hansenology Committee, Public Health Service, State of São Paulo, Brazil.




Bible, Biblical


The "tsará-ath" of the Hebrew Books, translated as "Lepra" in the Greek "Septuaginta" Bible was a ritual defilement based on various skin and scalp lesions and on blemishes, probably mold, on garment, leather, walls and stones. The previous appellation ("Lepra") of those lesions changed to "Vitiligo", "Psoriasis"' "Tinea", etc. but is still current for Hanseniasis (Hansen's disease), whose signs cannot be found in the Bible. This historical linguistic confusion is an important cause of serious psycho-social, medical and preventive problems in Christian endemic countries, spreading to nonChristian areas. The last known example is that of the highlands of Papua New Guinea, where Hanseniasis was "a disease like the others", until the arrival of Western influences and religious missions, resulting in stigmatization and ostracization of patients and their families. To ensure that evangelization should neither be accompanied by discrimination nor by misinformation about the disease, some modern Bible translations are no longer using the word "Leprosy". This term has also been abandoned by the Brazilian Ministries of Health and of Social Welfare, as well as by the United States Public Health Service, and by the government of Portugal.


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4. BROWNE, S. G. Leprosy in the Bible. London, Christian Medical Fellowship, 1974. 20 p.
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28. ROTBERG, A. 0 pejorativo "lepra" e a grande vitima de grave erro médico-social-histórico: a indefesa América Latina. Rev. Hist., 101:205-304, 1975.
29. SIMONS, R. D. G. P. Dermatologie der Tro pen. Amsterdam, Scheltema Sc. Holkema, 1950.
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Como Citar

ROTBERG A. A non-stigmatizing Bible. Hansen. Int. [Internet]. 30º de junho de 1978 [citado 11º de dezembro de 2023];3(1):76-82. Disponível em: https://periodicos.saude.sp.gov.br/hansenologia/article/view/35645



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