Sunday’s Old Testament reading (Leviticus) talks about leprosy. In the Bible, “leprosy” isn't a medical diagnosis. It’s a translation of word that covers a lot of different skin diseases and conditions, both life-threatening (like actual leprosy) and not life-threatening.
Back then, when someone had a life-threatening skin disease, there was no cure. But they could keep it from spreading. They did that by making the infected person live apart from everyone else.
Which is why the priest was involved. The priest’s job was to prevent people from overdoing it. To keep people who weren’t a danger from being sent away, just because someone saw a birthmark or a rash and panicked.
So after the Old Testament public health lecture, what’s next – middle school hygiene films?
Actually, there’s a lot to this reading than just old school public health. More on this tomorrow.
Readings for Sunday: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021515.cfm