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Hippocrates in a World of Pagans and Christians

Owsei Temkin

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In Hippocrates in a World of Pagans and Christians, Temkin shows how the perennial appeal of Hippocratic practice helped establish the relationship between scientific medicine and monotheistic religion. After the first century, Hippocratic medicine competed with powerful beliefs in religious healers from Asclepius to Jesus. Yet the ascendance of Christianity, Temkin explains, did not diminish the stature of Hippocratic science. Hippocrates, after all, saw nature as a divine and orderly power that caused growth and supplied "health." Hippocratic doctors could easily exchange the cult of...

In Hippocrates in a World of Pagans and Christians, Temkin shows how the perennial appeal of Hippocratic practice helped establish the relationship between scientific medicine and monotheistic religion. After the first century, Hippocratic medicine competed with powerful beliefs in religious healers from Asclepius to Jesus. Yet the ascendance of Christianity, Temkin explains, did not diminish the stature of Hippocratic science. Hippocrates, after all, saw nature as a divine and orderly power that caused growth and supplied "health." Hippocratic doctors could easily exchange the cult of Asclepius for the worship of Christ. But they could not sacrifice their belief in nature as the basis of health, disease, and therapy without renouncing their science. In compromise, the Church accepted Hippocratic medicine with the proviso that the Christian physician shun all pagan or heretical interpretations of naturalism—he must not, for example, believenature to be divine, the soul a mere function of the brain, or himself the true savior of the sick.

Reviews

Reviews

The fascinating story of how Hippocrates and the Oath (which is unlikely to have been written by the great Coan doctor himself) became Christianized is the theme of this wise and humane book... Historians, theologians, and doctors alike will benefit from this clear, learned, and courteous exposition of an enthralling theme.

The reader can only salute [Temkin] as one of the greatest humanist physicians of our time.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
336
ISBN
9780801851292
Author Bio
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Owsei Temkin

Owsei Temkin, M.D. (1902–2002), was William H. Welch Professor of the History of Medicine and director of the Institute of the History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University. His books include The Falling Sickness: A History of Epilepsy from the Greeks to the Beginnings of Modern Neurology, Soranus' Gynecology (translation), and Hippocrates in a World of Pagans and Christians.