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Early Christian Missionaries as Physicians

Healing and its Cultural Value in the Greco-Roman Context

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image of Novum Testamentum

Q 10 shows some features that equate Jesus' missionaries to Greco-Roman medical practitioners. Moreover, some early Christian texts developed the same imagery, accompanying it with some hints of social critique. Conversely, under the early empire, the prestige and the privileges of doctors, who had good patronage connections, were significantly increased through imperial legislation. The Christian choice of representing missionaries as physicians may be understood by employing the anthropological category of “mimesis”. This entailed a critique of the patronage system and, hence, it arguably won the Christian mission a part of its success in some sectors of the ancient society.

Affiliations: 1: Cambridge, Massachusetts


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