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Durham e-Theses
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The early church and the healing of the sick

Rayner, S. L. (1973) The early church and the healing of the sick. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The concern of the Early Church for the sick is considered in terms of scientific medicine, practical care and supernatural action. After a brief survey of Greek medicine, the early Christian views on its value and acceptability are evidenced by direct and analogous references to disease, the practice of Christian doctors, and the favourable ruling by St. Basil. The oft-repeated duty of Christians to visit and care for the sick is considered in the light of Graeco-Roman practical, care. The fulfilment of this obligation is revealed in the praiseworthy action by Christians in time of plague and the establishment of institutions for the sick. The unique healing ministry of Jesus is recalled together with New Testament evidence of the apostolic continuation of that ministry in the context of a general belief in demons and widespread practice of exorcism. Examination is made of the post-apostolic practice of exorcism and the accompanying use of credal formulae and the name of Christ, the office of exorcist and the later development of the priestly use of oil. Attention is directed to the possible significance of the close association of the formal actions of the baptismal rite - exorcism, imposition of hands, anointing, signing of the cross - with those of healing. The effect is noted of non-Christian healing cults, of pagan magicians, of the over-credulous writings of some fringe Christian groups in leading the Church to reconsider the apologetic value and the purpose of healing miracles and to stress the priority of spiritual wholeness and the place of suffering in Christian discipleship, whilst accommodating the growing interest in the healing power of relics and incubation. The period covered is that of the first five centuries of the Church's history and a brief comparison is made with contemporary developments in the Church's ministry of healing.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1973
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:39

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