Recently, in a few chats with atheists, I have come upon a claim by a few that they, “would believe in God if there was an instance recorded of an amputee being restored”, which is of course a false claim, because there is a record of Jesus healing a person who had his ear cut off (Malchus, the high priest’s servant, Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-11). But that is one, isolated passage, particularly in Luke’s account where the servant is actually healed. And even I am willing to admit that is thin evidence, but it proves my point, nonetheless.
As believers, as the ones commanded to give a defense for our Hope (1 Peter 3:15), we have to deal with difficult challenges, and that is a difficult challenge, especially when there is only one, specifically recorded instance seems to be all that there is to offer as evidence. But what if there was a more general piece of evidence, general in tone, yet specific in its nature?
I attempt to read my Bible every morning, sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but I try. This morning in particular, I believe, is special for two reasons: 1, I am a Sunday school teacher who is creating a lesson plan to begin going through the four gospels using one as a template to explore the rest, specifically Matthew’s gospel; and 2, I always keep specific arguments that are used against me in conversation in mind so that I can deal with them in class.
The bible that I use in my daily devotional is on my Nook. I began using an electronic bible when I hurt my hand a few years ago because it was easier for me to type notes than to write them out as well as to do highlights. I have several versions spread across various platforms, something I intend to harmonize over the next few years into one so that there is commonality amongst them, but I always use the same version, the New King James. Now there are several reasons why I use that specific translation, but for this post I will only name one: its literal renderings of the Greek. But being in electronic form, I am allowed by one particular software to do an exegetical search on terms that catch my eye, and this morning, one verse did just that:
“So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel (Matthew 15:31).”
In that verse Matthew identifies four groups, the mute, the maimed or crippled, the lame, and the blind, who came or were brought to Jesus to be healed. Matthew makes a specific differentiation between two of the groups, the maimed or crippled and the lame. It could be taken, in the Greek, and in its English rendering that these two groups had two radically different causes of their conditions: the maimed were made that way through accident or intent, and the lame had conditions that have existed from birth. Specifically, for the purpose of this post, we need to focus on the former group, because of the word used by Matthew, κυλλοὺς.
Kyllous (κυλλοὺς), the maimed as it is rendered, has several meanings in its root form. It can mean “crooked” when used is its most general sense but when it is used in referring to a human body, it can be taken to mean something that is injured, disabled, even mutilated; we might could even take it a step farther in its logical direction and say amputated especially considering that it is followed by the adjective ὑγιεῖς (hygieis), which can mean, literally, “made whole“.
Now as someone who has just began to study the Bible exegetically, and am just beginning to delve into the original languages, this is just my basic opinion. I would have to defer to some who are more adept with the languages, but it definitely points in the right direction, and seems to give the believers one more arrow of evidence to put into their quiver and used against arguments brought out by skeptics.