Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hezekiah’s Boil and the Insights of Ancient Medical Texts

The Journal for the Study of the Old Testament is searchable online now, as is its sister publication, the Journal for the Study of the New Testament. Thanks to Jacob Knee for this piece of information and to Jim West of Biblical Theology,
who first posted this news on his blog. You can download articles and I did. One such article was by Margaret Barker.[i] I mention it today as a followup to my blog yesterday on Great High Priest for several reasons. One, this article is a representative example of her writing for those who would like to read an easily accessible sample. Second, it demonstrates how someone can using biblical literature and the writings of other writers such as Josephus and the medical writers such as Galen put together an interesting diagnosis of the condition of King Hezekiah.

A similar problem was presented in a passage by Luke[ii], one which Conzelmann used to demonstrate that Luke was confused about his geography.[iii] However, using the same information, Weissenrieder located the spot being described by Luke in the Valley of Jezreel.[iv] Weissenrieder further demonstrated how climatic conditions of this area would cause many inhabitants to be afflicted with a skin condition probably erroneously diagnosed as leprosy. Finally, Weissenrieder has made findings that are consistent with the possibility that Luke was a physician.

[i] Margaret Barker, Hezekiah’s Boil, JSOT 95 (2001), 31-42.
[ii] Luke 17:11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Sama'ria and Galilee.
[iii] Conzelmann, Hans, The Theology of St. Luke, (London, ET, 1960).
[iv] Weissenrieder, Images of Illness in the Gospel of Luke: insights of ancient medical texts, Tübingen (2003).

copyrighted 2005


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