Medicine, Society, and Faith in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds

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In Medicine, Society, and Faith in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds Darrel Amundsen explores the disputed boundaries of medicine and Christianity by focusing on the principle of the sanctity of human life, including the duty to treat or attempt to sustain the life of the ill. As he examines his themes and moves from text to context, Amundsen clarifies a number of Christian principles in relation to bioethical issues that are hotly debated today. In his examination of the moral stance of the earliest syphilographers, for example, he finds insights into the ethical issues surrounding the treatment of AIDS, which he believes has its closest historical antecedent not in plague but in syphilis.

He also shows that the belief that all healing comes from God, whether directly, through prayer, or through the use of medicine—a sentiment commonly held by contemporary Christians—cannot be accurately attributed to any extant source from the patristic period. Indeed, all the Church Fathers were convinced that healing sometimes came from evil sources: Satan and his demons were able to heal, for example, and Asclepius was a demon "to be taken very seriously indeed."

Johns Hopkins University Press

Explores the boundaries of medicine & Christianity/clarifies Christian principles relative to bioethics/etc.

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Editorial Reviews

Medieval Review

A cause for celebration for all students of ancient and medieval medicine and for those interested in the interaction between medicine and the Christian faith, institutions, and ethics... Amundsen's articles show the scope of the contribution by the cultural history of medicine to ancient and medieval history in general. Nobody working on late antiquity, early Christianity, and the Middle Ages, or interested in religion, healing, and medical ethics, can afford to overlook it.

Admundsen (classics, Western Washington U.) explores tensions and compatibilities between medicine and Christianity including suicide and early Christian values, caring and curing in the second century, medical deontology and pestilential disease in the late Middle Ages, and the moral stance of the earliest syphilographers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801863547
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 1/20/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Darrel W. Amundsen is a professor of classics at Western Washington University.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

1 Body, Soul, and Physician 1
2 The Physician's Obligation to Prolong Life: A Medical Duty without Classical Roots 30
3 Medicine and the Birth of Defective Children: Approaches of the Ancient World 50
4 Suicide and Early Christian Values 70
5 Medicine and Faith in Early Christianity 127
6 Tatian's "Rejection" of Medicine in the Second Century 158
7 Caring and Curing in the Medieval Catholic Tradition 175
8 Medieval Canon Law on Medical and Surgical Practice by the Clergy 222
9 Casuistry and Professional Obligations: The Regulation of Physicians by the Court of Conscience in the Late Middle Ages 248
10 Medical Deontology and Pestilential Disease in the Late Middle Ages 289
11 The Moral Stance of the Earliest Syphilographers, 1495-1505 310
Indexes 373
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