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Health Care and the Rise of Christianity Paperback – February 1, 1999

3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Professor Avalos brings his considerable expertise in medical anthropology to the study of health care systems in the ancient cultures out of which Christianity arose. His analysis of the role played by health care in the advent of Christianity is carefully constructed through cross-cultural and interdisciplinary methodologies, and presented in a readable format which makes his results easily accessible to the specialist and layperson alike. This book is a must for anyone interested in the topic, or concerned about the ethical and long-term implications of a modern health care in crisis."

--Carole R. Fontaine, Professor of Hebrew Scriptures, Andover Newton Theological School

"In Health Care and the Rise of Christianity Avalos helpfully turns our attention to the care of bodies as fundamental to the growth and expansion of early Christianity. Response to basic issues--such as cost, access to care, and perceived efficacy--helped to fashion an early Christian system of health care that was distinct from contemporary approaches. Avalos raises eminently relevant questions about the role of ideas and practices of health care in the attractiveness of new religious movements, both historically and today."

--Nancy L. Eiesland, Sociology of Religion, Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, Ga. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Hector Avalos is associate professor of religious studies and chair of the U.S. Latino Studies Program at Iowa State University. Besides being the author of Illness and Health Care in the Ancient Near East in the Harvard Semitic Monograph series, Avalos serves on the editorial board for the translation of Luis Alonso Schökel's Diccionario Biblico HebreoEspañol. He is also the former chair of the Religion in Latin America and the Caribbean Group in the American Academy of Religion.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801045509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801045509
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,280,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is the result of Avalos' work on anthropology and the history of the early church. Avalos' major thesis was that, "the role of health care in the rise of Christianity has not been given as much credit as it is due (3)." One theme in the book was to describe, "how healing was portrayed and promoted by the community responsible for the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3)." Avalos discusses how the findings of medical anthropology could be applied to the study and rise of Christianity. He provides interesting insight into the correlation between this branch of archaeology and the New Testament's evidence of healing in the Christian community.
Healing temples and shrines were the results of public demand. Healing movements came when a city was in needed healing. Archaeology indicates that shrines flourished after a major outbreaks, plagues, army occupations, or rapid urbanization. Once established healing movements gained a foothold in the community and were a principle factor in attracting new converts.
After comparing the findings in the Greco-Roman, Judaic, and the Qumran communities Avalos indicated that ancient medical practice was complex. The polytheistic contexts gave the patient freedom to choose their own healing god, angels, or spirits. The various rituals, amulets, incantations, and healers made a "trip to the doctor" quite complicated. The patient had to travel to temples, which were usually located on a high hill, far away city, or dark side of town. The patient would also have to wait until certain seasons when the god would heal or the physician/priest was at the temple. Those who were sick needed healing to be restored to the community.
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The author's main thesis is that "The role of health care in the rise of Christianity has not been given as much credit as it is due." The idea it's interesting to me, and i believe it has some concrete foundations, but the whole development of the book shows no love in researching the truth.
The real intention of the author is stated few lines before the proclamation of the thesis: "The ideas of health care reflected in early Christianity constitute a system that was an important factor in the rise of Christianity itself." Which basically means that the first Christians (starting from Christ himself) used to perform health care activities only with the intention of converting people.
Here is the conclusion of the book: "Far from being a marginal interest, heath care was part of the core of it's mission and strategy for gaining converts to this Jewish sect".
There's no charity.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book for a class on the New Testament. It was an interesting read, but he introduced and concluded way too many times, each chapter is a bit much for a book I'm reading wholly.
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