On Jesus As A Healer

In the last few years there has been something of a revolution in biblical studies as scholars have become more inter-disciplinary. One growing and popular trend is to meld together biblical, medical and social-scientific studies. For instance, two books that I have read in the last year have attempted this feat (click HERE and HERE for more on those books).

Some of the more noticeable aspects of this undertaking that I've noticed are as follows:

1. There has been a purposeful move away from language of Jesus being a "curer" to Jesus being a "healer". In other words, many have argued that Jesus didn't cure people of physical ailments per se but rather, he healed them from psychiatric or somatoform disorders. (Again, click HERE and HERE for more on that).

2. In line with the previous point, there has also been a purposeful move away from viewing Jesus' healings as if they were of supernatural origin to understanding them as though they were of human descent. To put it more succinctly: Jesus was simply a mental health doctor of his day, a type of village practitioner, not unlike the traveling doctors we see in Civil War movies who, with a stethoscope and reflex hammer prescribe "sleep" or "time off" for recovery.

3. There has also been an attempt to point out that "diseases" or "sicknesses" are culturally defined. This has also led to a re-understanding and/or redefining of "demon possession". For example, what might be considered a common cold in the States might be considered demon possession in a remote New Guinea village. Thus, the New Testament scenes of Jesus were not actually spiritual events but rather, illnesses imbued by the culture with spiritual significance. Moreover, these illnesses recorded in narrative accounts were kind of intensified because the stories needed drama.

I could go on and on about this. While I find much of the speculation and theorizing as interesting, there is also so much of it that seems quite far-fetched. It seems inescapable that according to the New Testament authors, Jesus was certainly viewed as both a healer and a curer as well as an exorcist. The question is: 2,000+ years later, do we simply adopt that ancient worldview or do we, in an incredibly scientific age, think about things differently? Or, perhaps more appropriately and more to the heart of the issue: Are things such as immediate healing, demon expulsion, etc. legitimately part of our worldview? And, are they part of our worldview because we've encountered them or are they part of our worldview because of some ancient narratives?

When reflecting on Jesus as a healer, what conclusions do you come to and why? Without simply rejecting scientific, narrative, medical criticism, etc. where do you find yourself on the continuum and why? Is Jesus any different than the average doctor or psychiatrist today? How and why?

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