Healing in the History of Christianity

Healing in the History of Christianity

by Amanda Porterfield, Yoel Rak
     
 

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Amanda Porterfield offers a survey of ideas, rituals, and experiences of healing in Christian history. Jesus himself performed many miracles of healing, and Christians down the ages have seen this as a prominent feature of their faith. Indeed, healing is one of the most constant themes in the long and sprawling history of Christianity. Changes in healing beliefs and

Overview

Amanda Porterfield offers a survey of ideas, rituals, and experiences of healing in Christian history. Jesus himself performed many miracles of healing, and Christians down the ages have seen this as a prominent feature of their faith. Indeed, healing is one of the most constant themes in the long and sprawling history of Christianity. Changes in healing beliefs and practices offer a window into changes in religious authority, church structure, and ideas about sanctity, history, resurrection, and the kingdom of God. Porterfield chronicles these changes, at the same time shedding important new light on the universality of religious healing. Finally, she looks at recent scientific findings about religion's biological effects, and considers the relation of these findings to ages-old traditions about belief and healing.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tell the story of healing throughout Christian history in under 250 pages--a daunting task? Absolutely. But Porterfield, a religion professor at Florida State University, pulls it off admirably. In her view, healing encompasses more than just dramatic miracles worked by Jesus or his followers. Learning to live with chronic pain can be seen as a form of healing, as can repentance and the experience of being forgiven. The early church frequently described Christ as a physician and suggested that spiritual healing could protect believers from physical illness. Christians nursed the sick in a conscious emulation of Christ's ministry. The medieval church developed the idea that the body parts of long-dead saints could heal, and icons were considered "vehicles of healing power." This book is boldly global in scope--the chapters on the early modern and modern eras travel from China to South Africa--yet one wishes that Porterfield, who cut her scholarly teeth on colonial New England, would have written a bit more about the U.S. Nonetheless, she proves that healing is a central theme in Christian history, and is a fascinating lens through which to examine the Christian faith. Indeed, she has produced not just a history of healing in Christianity, but a history of Christianity itself. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"In an era newly attentive to the relationship between religion and health, this striking analysis of Christianity as a religion of healing offers insights deeply informed by imaginative research, breadth of scope, and clarity of argument. Beginning with the texts of the New Testament and concluding with the healers and hospital builders of the late twentieth century, Amanda Porterfield provides a skillful description of the manifold ways that Christians have engaged in practices of healing for the past two thousand years. The book is an eye-opener." — E. Brooks Holifield, author of Theology in America: Christian Thought from the Age of the Puritans to the Civil War

"This book represents a singularly important contribution to the study of the history of Christianity. With sparkling prose, Porterfield shows that Christianity, from the beginning to the present, and in all parts of the world, has concerned itself with the healing of broken bodies. The scope of the story Porterfield tells, and the richness of the documents she consults, establish a standard of excellence for all future studies of the subject." —Grant A. Wacker, author of Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture

"In these days of medical miracles and double-blind tests of intercessory prayer, Amanda Porterfield provides a welcome introduction to the 2,000-year-old history of Christianity and healing. Ranging from Galilee to Lourdes (and beyond), she investigates the intriguing world of angels and demons and boldly explores the biological bases of spiritual healing." — Ronald L. Numbers, Hilldale and William Coleman Professor of the History of Science and Medicine, Department of Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin

"This wide-ranging survey is unusually even-handed in its treatment of a difficult and controversial subject. In particular, Porterfield is entirely persuasive in arguing that healing—as a multi-faceted response to suffering and evil—has been at the heart of Christian practice from the time of Jesus to the present. Her sensitive treatments of the large place of healing in Christian missions and in the recent world expansion of Christianity are especially welcome." — Mark A. Noll, author of America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln

"Porterfield proves that healing is a central theme in Christian history, and is a fascinating lens through which to examine the Christian faith. Indeed, she has produced not just a history of healing in Christianity, but a history of Christianity itself." —Publishers Weekly

"A complicated, sometimes chaotic, but consistently captivating configuration of Christian history — a vibrant and compelling picture that offers a distinctive perspective on how and why Christianity has flourished in diverse cultural, social, and historical settings." —ooks & Culture

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198035749
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
08/25/2005
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
315 KB

Meet the Author

Amanda Porterfield is Robert A. Spivey Professor of Religion at Florida State University. She is the author of The Transformation of American Religion: The Story of a Late-Twentieth-Century Awakening (OUP 2001).

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