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Disease and Healing in the First Century

Disease and Healing in the First Century

Excerpt
In the early Christian period illness may be caused by numerous demonic entities who are not always acting at Yahweh’s command (Matt. 15:22Luke 11:14), and not necessarily by the violation of covenant stipulations (John 9:2). Illnesses mentioned include fevers (Mark 1:30), hemorrhages (Matt. 9:20), and what has been identified by some scholars as epilepsy (Mark 9:14–29). The cure for illness may be found in this world, and not simply in some utopian future.
Christianity also may have attracted patients who were too poor to afford fees charged in many Greco-Roman traditions (cf. Matt. 10:8). Some Greco-Roman traditions insisted that travel to a shrine was necessary for healing, but Christianity, with its emphasis on the value of faith alone, in effect announced that travel to a shrine was not required (Matt. 8:8). Likewise, Christianity resisted temporal restrictions on when healing could be administered (Mark 3:2–5). Nonetheless, early Christianity preserved many older Hebrew traditions regarding miraculous healings (Acts 5:169:34) and collective health (Jas. 5:16), although some scholars have also seen the influence of Hellenistic healing traditions (e.g., the Asclepius traditions). More
Avalos, Hector. “Illness and Health Care.” Ed. David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible 2000: 630. Print.
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