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Medicine and Health Care in Early Christianity

Gary B. Ferngren

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Drawing on New Testament studies and recent scholarship on the expansion of the Christian church, Gary B. Ferngren presents a comprehensive historical account of medicine and medical philanthropy in the first five centuries of the Christian era.

Ferngren first describes how early Christians understood disease. He examines the relationship of early Christian medicine to the natural and supernatural modes of healing found in the Bible. Despite biblical accounts of demonic possession and miraculous healing, Ferngren argues that early Christians generally accepted naturalistic assumptions about…

Drawing on New Testament studies and recent scholarship on the expansion of the Christian church, Gary B. Ferngren presents a comprehensive historical account of medicine and medical philanthropy in the first five centuries of the Christian era.

Ferngren first describes how early Christians understood disease. He examines the relationship of early Christian medicine to the natural and supernatural modes of healing found in the Bible. Despite biblical accounts of demonic possession and miraculous healing, Ferngren argues that early Christians generally accepted naturalistic assumptions about disease and cared for the sick with medical knowledge gleaned from the Greeks and Romans.

Ferngren also explores the origins of medical philanthropy in the early Christian church. Rather than viewing illness as punishment for sins, early Christians believed that the sick deserved both medical assistance and compassion. Even as they were being persecuted, Christians cared for the sick within and outside of their community. Their long experience in medical charity led to the creation of the first hospitals, a singular Christian contribution to health care.

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Medicine and Health Care in Early Christianity

Gary B. Ferngren

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Reviews

A succinct, thoughtful, well-written, and carefully argued assessment of Christian involvement with medical matters in the first five centuries of the common era... It is to Ferngren's credit that he has opened questions and explored them so astutely. This fine work looks forward as well as backward; it invites fuller reflection of the many senses in which medicine and religion intersect and merits wide readership.

In this superb work of historical and conceptual scholarship, Ferngren unfolds for the reader a cultural milieu of healing practices during the early centuries of Christianity... His arguments are always compelling and usually convincing. He shows how Christians lived out their faith as a positive healing and caring witness, boldly living out their Christianity as a persuasive alternative to the failed pagan responses to fellow human beings in need.

Readable and widely researched... an important book for mission studies and American Catholic movements, the book posits the question of what can take its place in today's challenging religious culture.

This is an important book, for students of Christian theology who understand health and healing to be topics of theological interest, and for health care practitioners who seek a historical perspective on the development of the ethos of their vocation.

Medical historians and historians interested in the classical age will welcome this well written book to their libraries. Medical practioners in every field with a strong interest in medical history will profit from reading it as well. Certainly, libraries at every medical university and graduate school will want this book.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
264
ISBN
9781421420066
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1. Methods and Approaches
2. The Christian Reception of Greek Medicine
3. Early Christian Views of the Etiology of Disease
4. Christianity as a Religion of Healing
5. The Basis of Christian

Acknowledgments
1. Methods and Approaches
2. The Christian Reception of Greek Medicine
3. Early Christian Views of the Etiology of Disease
4. Christianity as a Religion of Healing
5. The Basis of Christian Medical Philanthropy
6. Health Care in the Early Church
7. Some Concluding Observations
Abbreviations
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
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Gary B. Ferngren

Gary B. Ferngren is a professor of history at Oregon State University, editor of Science and Religion: A Historical Introduction, and author of Medicine and Health Care in Early Christianity, both published by Johns Hopkins.
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