Religious Studies Faculty Publications


In Sickness and in Health: Ancient ‘Rituals of Truth’ in the Greco-Roman World and 1 Peter

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Source

Disability Studies and Biblical Literature


The literature of the Jesus movement is filled with dramatic scenes of healing in which the sick are rescued from demonic forces (Jesus’ healing miracles in the Gospels), aligning sickness and disability with evil. The violent death of Jesus became a rallying point for early Christians, elevating the weak body as a source of identity and power (the passion narrative in the Gospels, Pauline Christianity, 1 Peter). This chapter examines ancient attitudes toward illness and disability as a means of understanding the opposing attitudes represented in 1 Peter. The study of disability in the ancient world poses several problems for historians of religion. First, the New Testament sources themselves are not written as historical accounts of sickness and healing, but as narratives or treatises with a broader agenda: providing an account or explanation of the early Jesus movement. Second, even if the perspectives of the sick are available to us through historical criticism of the texts, there is no guarantee that they do not represent mere parroting of the dominant narratives of healing and wholeness.

Inclusive pages





Permission documentation on file.


Palgrave Macmillan

Place of Publication

New York, NY