Casa Editrice Mistretta, Palermo, Italy

A stern Jesus heals a man suffering from an unknown skin disease (often identified as leprosy), in this 12th-century mosaic from the Cathedral, or Duomo (Italian for “dome”), of Monreale, Sicily. According to Mark 1, the man beseeches Jesus, “If you wish, you are able to cleanse me.” Jesus’ response is less clear, for our extant manuscripts of Mark’s gospel provide two very different versions of events: Most say that Jesus felt “compassion” and healed the man, but a handful of early manuscripts state instead that he became “angry” before curing the man. Author Bart Ehrman suggests that this unusual and unseemly reading is likely the right one—mostly because it sounds wrong. It is far more probable that later scribes would have changed Jesus’ “anger” to “compassion,” than the other way around, Ehrman argues.