Congratulations to Gary B. Ferngren on being named Sandy and Elva Sanders Eminent Professor for 2011, in recognition of his many contributions to historical scholarship and teaching through the University Honors College.  This timely acknowledgment coincides with the publication of a major work on the history of science and medicine in the Ancient world.

Ferngren’s new book, Medicine and Health Care in Early Christianity, explores the different understandings of disease in the first five centuries of the Christian era.  His book questions our fundamental assumptions about how early Christians saw their health by exploring both the natural and supernatural modes of healing found in the Bible.

From the description:

“Despite biblical accounts of demonic possession and miraculous healing, Ferngren argues that early Christians generally accepted naturalistic assumptions about disease and cared for the sick with medical knowledge gleaned from the Greeks and Romans.

Ferngren next explores the origins of medical philanthropy in the early Christian church. Rather than viewing illness as punishment for sins, early Christians believed that the sick deserved both medical assistance and compassion. Even as they were being persecuted, Christians cared for the sick both within and outside of their community. Their long experience in medical charity led to the creation of the first hospitals, a singular Christian contribution to health care.”

From the Journal of the American Medical Association:

“A succinct, thoughtful, well-written, and carefully argued assessment of Christian involvement with medical matters in the first five centuries of the common era… It is to Ferngren’s credit that he has opened questions and explored them so astutely. This fine work looks forward as well as backward; it invites fuller refelection of the many senses in which medicine and religion intersect and merits wide readership.”

More about this book can be found at the publisher’s site.

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