As I have done my early research on the history of medical care in the Christian west, I have benefitted greatly from (and blogged extensively on) the work of Guenther Risse and Darrel Amundson (if you chuck those names into the search box at the upper right of this blog, you can see a number of posts of material from those scholars).
But I have still been left with questions unanswered about the theological underpinnings of Christian medical care. Didn’t early/medieval understandings of human dignity, rooted in a scriptural insistence that we bear the “image of God,” join the Matthean sheep-and-goats passage to set the table for a Christian imperative that all should serve the sick, the dying, the poor? I was looking for a smoking gun on those things in the secondary literature.
Well, now I’ve found it. It’s the wonderful and relatively new (2009) book by an Amundson colleague and collaborator, Gary B. Ferngren. The book is called Medicine & Health Care in Early Christianity. Continue reading
This will be the last post from Guenter B.
Risse’s Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals (Oxford University Press, 1999). In these excerpts from chapter 2, “Christian Hospitality,” Risse sketches the events and ideas that shaped the church’s commitments to providing healing spaces in its earliest centuries.
[Page numbers listed at the beginning of each paragraph. To see other posts from Risse’s book, put his name in the search box near the top of the right column of this blog.]
69 “Late in the year 499, the ‘Blessed City’ of Edessa in southeastern Anatolia, with an estimated population of about 10,000, experienced a great crisis. Frequent wars in the surrounding countryside four years earlier had already destroyed entire villages and ruined the fields. This situation was blamed for an epidemic of boils and swellings during which many inhabitants apparently went blind. By the fall of the year 499, agricultural failures in the surrounding rural areas multiplied due to swarms of locusts devouring the remaining crops. Continue reading
Guenter Risse has provided, in his Mending Bodies, Saving Souls, a fascinating account of the Hospital of St. John in Jerusalem during the crusader years.
The Hospital reflected and elaborated on the values found in the earlier monastic history of Christian hospitals. Here are some glimpses, prefaced by a brief timeline of Jerusalem’s history: Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, Resources for Radical Living
Tagged Hospital of St. John, Hospitallers, hospitals, Jerusalem, medicine, Medieval, Middle Ages, monasticism, the Crusades, the First Crusade