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Can No Physician Be Found?


The Influence of Religion on Medical Pluralism in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Israel


Can No Physician be Found analyzes how religion, as an expression of a universal order, is applied to the medical practices in the cultures of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Israel. The comparative approach sheds light on how religious concepts shaped not only the particular medical identity of each society, but also how they can simultaneously participate in a broader medical culture spanning the ancient Near East.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0248-4
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Nov 20,2013
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 170
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0248-4
$126.00
$75.60
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Can No Physician be Found analyzes how religion, as an expression of a universal order, applied to the medical practices in the cultures of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Israel. The comparative approach sheds light on how religious concepts shaped not only the particular medical identity of each society, but also how they can simultaneously participate in a broader medical culture spanning the ancient Near East.

A feature common to all three cultures is the presence of two types of healers. Scholars of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia distinguish them as scientific (physician) or magical (priest) whereas biblical scholarship sees healing in connection with prophets and priests as simply miraculous. By understanding the role of religion, we can see that these ancient societies did not operate under the science/magic dichotomy but rather used the multiplicity of healers as variations within a single healing strategy based upon the ideas of illness as a divine message and healing as a method of community cohesion. One type of healer focused on the message as a form of vertical communication with the deities, maintaining a relationship between humans and the divine. The other class of healers concentrated on the horizontal mode of communication, allowing people within the community to understand the message behind the illness as well as the potential resolution to such problems in the community.

Can No Physician be Found analyzes how religion, as an expression of a universal order, applied to the medical practices in the cultures of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Israel. The comparative approach sheds light on how religious concepts shaped not only the particular medical identity of each society, but also how they can simultaneously participate in a broader medical culture spanning the ancient Near East.

A feature common to all three cultures is the presence of two types of healers. Scholars of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia distinguish them as scientific (physician) or magical (priest) whereas biblical scholarship sees healing in connection with prophets and priests as simply miraculous. By understanding the role of religion, we can see that these ancient societies did not operate under the science/magic dichotomy but rather used the multiplicity of healers as variations within a single healing strategy based upon the ideas of illness as a divine message and healing as a method of community cohesion. One type of healer focused on the message as a form of vertical communication with the deities, maintaining a relationship between humans and the divine. The other class of healers concentrated on the horizontal mode of communication, allowing people within the community to understand the message behind the illness as well as the potential resolution to such problems in the community.

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Contributor Biography

Laura Zucconi

Laura M. Zucconi is an Assistant Professor at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. She holds a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of California, San Diego. She has published numerous articles on the relationship between religion and medicine in the Ancient Near East.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Acknowledgments (page 7)
  • Abbreviations (page 9)
  • Introduction (page 11)
  • Egyptian Healing (page 25)
    • Egyptian World System (page 28)
    • Egyptian Healers (page 46)
    • Conclusion (page 62)
  • Mesopotamian Healing (page 65)
    • Mesopotamian World System (page 69)
    • Mesopotamian Healers (page 92)
    • Conclusion (page 103)
  • Healing in the Hebrew Bible (page 105)
    • World System in the Hebrew Bible (page 107)
    • Healers in the Hebrew Bible (page 123)
    • Conclusion (page 136)
  • Ancient Near Eastern Supra- and Subcultures (page 139)
  • Bibliography (page 149)
  • Index (page 165)
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