Jump directly to the Content

10 Things We Learned about Medicine and Illness in Bible Times

Insights for Covidtide from “The Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity.”
10 Things We Learned about Medicine and Illness in Bible Times
Image: Freepik / Envato

The Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity, released as a 1,818-page behemoth in 2017, is one of those books you get lost in for hours in “does this still count as sermon prep?” mode. In Covidtide, we’ve been popping into R. K. Harrison and Edwin Yamauchi’s entry on “Medicine and Physicians.” Here’s some cool stuff we learned:

  1. The Old Testament doesn’t include a single reference to a doctor or medicine healing the sick.
  2. By contrast, references to physicians in the Mishnah and Talmud are very positive. (Well, there is the line that “The best among physicians is destined for Gehenna” and the listing of physician among “the trades of robbers.”)
  3. Rabbis counted 248 “limbs” in the human body and 365 “sinews,” corresponding to the 248 positive commandments and 365 negative ones.
  4. Paul calls Luke “the beloved physician” (Col. 4:14), but the writer doesn’t use any special medical vocabulary in his gospel or in Acts, despite their many healing stories.
Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

July/August
Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

From the Magazine
They Fled Ukraine, and Ukraine Followed
They Fled Ukraine, and Ukraine Followed
Escaping Russian missiles, some exiled believers found a new sense of purpose helping refugees.
Editor's Pick
When Churches Put Love at the Center
When Churches Put Love at the Center
How "beloved community" helps us envision tangible ways to embody kingdom values.
close