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Simon the Leper

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Title: Simon the Leper  
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Subject: Nymphas, Diotrephes, Mary of Rome, Nathanael (follower of Jesus), Gaius (biblical figure)
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Simon the Leper

Simon the Leper is a biblical figure mentioned by the Gospels according to Matthew (26:6-13) and Mark (14:3-9). These two books narrate how Jesus made a visit to the house of Simon the Leper at Bethany during the course of which a woman anoints the head of Jesus with costly ointment. Bethany was the home of Simon the Leper as well as Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

The Gospel according to John (12:1-8) recounts that Mary, Martha and Lazarus attended a supper for Jesus Christ two days before the Passover and Crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus arrived at Bethany six days before the Passover, but attended to the dinner two days before the Passover. Martha served and Lazarus sat at the table. According to John's Gospel, the feet of Jesus were also anointed by Mary. Comparing them suggests that Judas Iscariot and other disciples of Jesus also attended and protested the costly anointing of Jesus.

Simon the Leper is sometimes identified with Simon the Pharisee (see Shimon ben Gamliel), who is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (7:36-50) as the host of a meal during which the feet of Jesus are anointed by a woman.[1] Because of these similarities, efforts have been made to reconcile the events and characters, but some scholars have pointed out differences between the two events.[2] An alternative explanation for the similarities is that the Luke 7 anointing and the anointing at Bethany (Matthew 26:6, Mark 14:3, John 12:1) happened with some of the same participants, but several years apart.[3]

Simon the Leper is also sometimes identified as the same person as Lazarus of Bethany, or identified as his father or brother. This is because Matthew and Mark mention Simon, while John mentions Lazarus, but all four gospels assume one lodging at Bethany during the last week. Abbé Drioux identified all three as one: Lazarus of Bethany, Simon the Leper of Bethany, and the Lazarus of the parable, on the basis that in the parable Lazarus is depicted as a leper, and due to a perceived coincidence between Luke 16:30 and John 12:10—where after the raising of Lazarus, Caiaphas and Annas tried to have him killed.[4]

The meaning of his nickname the Leper is sometimes questioned because of the outcast status of lepers. Reinterpretations include that of the potter[5] or the Essene.

Because leprosy was a permanent condition at the time of Christ, and since lepers were outcasts from society, it is implied Simon was miraculously healed by Jesus; but, the name was still attached to him perhaps due to the length of his condition, or to distinguish him from Simon Peter, or other Simons of the time. However, the Gospels do not specifically include an account of his healing.


  1. ^ Sir William Smith A dictionary of the Bible, Volume 2 1863 p78
  2. ^ The Anointing of Jesus
  3. ^ Whittaker H.A. Studies in the Gospels, Cannock 1996
  4. ^ Drioux C.J. La Bible populaire. Paris, 1864
  5. ^

External links

  • Archdiocese of Montpellier
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