From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]


i. Current preconceptions prevalent in time of Christ.

ii. References to sickness and disease in the Gospels.

1. Diseases resulting in physical defect or incapacity.

2. Fever and allied diseases.

3. Cutaneous affections.

4. Dropsy.

5. Nervous diseases.

6. Nervous and psychical disorders.


i. Current preconceptions in time of Christ.—Two ideas respecting disease had a powerful influence on conceptions current in our Lord’s day: (1) The belief that all sickness and physical disease and pain were penalties imposed as the result of sin; (2) the idea that demonic agency was concerned with all human suffering. These kindred and allied ideas have been common among ancient peoples, and were strongly developed among the Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks.

Sayce, in his Hibbert Lectures (310, 334–5), gives evidence of the ancient Akkadian belief that disease and sickness were caused by specific malevolent spirits which possessed the person. The demons had been eaten with the food, drunk with the water, or inbreathed from the air; and until the evil power had been expelled the victim had no chance of recovery. Exorcism was effected by the sorcerer-priest, the intermediary between mankind and the spiritual world, using magic spells consisting of the names of deities, the name signifying the personality of the god, who was compelled by this use of the name to attend to the exorcist.

Among the Semites any mysterious natural object or occurrence appealing strongly to the imagination or exciting sentiments of awe and reverence was readily taken as a manifestation either of Divine or of demonic life (W. R. Smith, R S [Note: S Religion of the Semites.] 119 ff.). The demons, if offended, avenged themselves by sending various forms of disease. Indications are found in the Gospels that such ideas were not extinct in the time of Christ. The old Semitic strain of conception was modified and quickened by contact with Babylonian, Persian, and Grecian peoples, and prevailed with considerable force in the later Judaism. The NT reflects the ideas of a time when the older conceptions were breaking up, but had not yet disappeared.

Our Lord gives no sanction to any such thought of disease, and when the disciples betrayed their mode of thought ( John 9:2) He took occasion to combat the ancient superstition. Although He did frequently mark sin as the cause of much physical weakness and disease (see art. Impotence), yet He denies that all sickness was penal in character. Other ends were in the Divine purview besides the punishment of personal sin ( John 9:3). In St. Luke’s Gospel high fever seems to be attributed by implication to an evil agency, and Jesus is said to have rebuked (ἐπετίμησεν) the fever ( Luke 4:38-39); but probably this must be explained as a reflexion of the current preconceptions. In  Luke 13:16 no reference is necessarily made to sin having given power to Satan to afflict the woman. Demons were associated with disordered conditions of human life, as disease and infirmity: with dumbness ( Mark 9:17,  Luke 9:39), with deafness and dumbness ( Mark 9:25), with blindness and dumbness ( Matthew 12:22), and with epilepsy ( Mark 1:26;  Mark 9:20,  Luke 9:39). These physical defects are not necessarily manifestations of demonic influence, but are regarded as in close alliance with them. In St. Luke’s Gospel, also, it is noteworthy that a distinction is recorded as made by Jesus between the exorcism of demons and ordinary cures (ἐκβάλλω δαιμόνια καὶ ἰάσεις ἀποτελῶ,  Luke 13:32).* [Note: Hobart (Medical Language of St. Luke) and other writers claim to trace in the writings of the Third Evangelist the influence of a medical training. But the argument may be easily pressed beyond the truth. St. Luke’s style and vocabulary have many affinities with classical Greek, and many of the medical expressions he uses occur in the LXX, and may have come to the Evangelist from that source. The varied terms applied to the lunatic (or epileptic) and the demonized, which give a plausibility to the suggestion that the Evangelist distinguished between these ailments, are found not in Luke, but in Matthew (see art. Lunatic).] See, further, art. Demon.

ii. References in the Gospels to sickness and disease.

The terms employed by the Evangelists to denote bodily ailments are—

(1) ἀσθένεια, literally want of strength (α priv. and σθένος), primarily denoting weakness, and usually ‘infirmity’ or ‘infirmities’; in  Acts 28:9 translation ‘diseases’ (ἔχοντες ἀσθενείας); in  Matthew 8:17 translation ‘infirmities,’ and associated with νόσος; in  John 11:4 Authorized Version and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ‘sickness’; elsewhere [ Luke 5:15;  Luke 8:2;  Luke 13:11-12,  John 5:5] ‘infirmity’; associated with νόσος in  Luke 4:40.

(2) μαλακία (μαλάσσω, ‘soften’) denotes:

( a ) softness or effeminacy, as well as sickness; ( b ) periodic and chronic sickness and consequent languor of body. The word is used in  Matthew 4:23-24;  Matthew 9:35;  Matthew 10:1, where it is associated with νόσος. The first named passage is one in which the various ailments that our Lord healed are enumerated and apparently discriminated (cf. Authorized Version and Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885).

(3) νόσος (from νη- ‘not,’ and σὁος ‘sound’ [?]) is employed to indicate more acute and violent seizures than μαλακια; found in  Matthew 4:23-24;  Matthew 8:17;  Matthew 9:35;  Matthew 10:1,  Mark 1:3-4;  Mark 3:15,  Luke 4:40;  Luke 6:17;  Luke 7:21;  Luke 9:1. In the Markan and Lukan (exc.  Luke 4:40) passages the diseased are distinguished from the demonized.

(4) νὁσημα, a disease or sickness,  John 5:4 (only).

(5) τοὺς κακῶς ἑχοντας is a frequent expression for those that were sick, and in  Mark 1:34 we have the fuller expression τολλοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντκς σοικίλαις νόσοις.

Of the presence of specific diseases much fuller indications are more or less distinctly given in the OT than in the NT. Instances of these may he understood as included in the miscellaneous cases of sickness and disease which our Lord repeatedly dealt with. Among them are various forms of skin disease, which were and are very common in the East; also of fever and allied disorders, extending to plague and pestilence; diseases of the digestive organs; infantile and senile diseases; affections of the brain or other parts of the nervous system; and disordered conditions of the psychical side of human nature. All of these are referred to in the OT with some amount of definiteness as to symptoms.

The diseases mentioned in the Gospels, and dealt with in direct and Divine fashion by Jesus (see art. Cures), include cases of physical defect; fevers and kindred diseases; skin diseases, notably that of leprosy; a solitary case of dropsy; ailments and infirmities that were nervous in character; and others which were a combination of nervous and psychical disorder. These various afflictions are not always to be certainly identified with particular forms of disease with which modern medical science is familiar. The description of the cases is, for the most part, far removed from being scientific, but yet enables us to broadly distinguish them from one another and to classify them with fair exactitude.

1. Diseases resulting in physical defect, or incapacity

(1) Defect in the organs of speech .—The case of the dumb man recorded in  Matthew 9:32-33 was associated with features of mental disturbance leading the people to attribute the dumbness to demonic possession. ‘When the demon was cast out, the dumb spake,’ as though no physical defect existed apart from the psychical disturbance. Interesting cases are known in which mental derangement has been manifested in an inhibition of one of the senses. Ray ( Factors of an Unsound Mind ) gives an instance in which the patient was unable to see the Column in the Place Vendôme in Paris, and believed it to have been removed. A similar inhibition, resulting from psychical rather than physical causes, might be applied to the organs of speech.

(2) Defect in the organs of sense .—Among defects notably common in the East is that of blindness (see art. Sight, B). Deafness is usually accompanied by dumbness, being indeed often the main cause of it—the term deaf-mute thus accurately describing the limitation. See Deaf and Dumb.

(3) Defects in the organs both of sense and speech .—In  Matthew 12:22 blindness and dumbness are combined, together with mental disturbance. In this case the restoration is not spoken of as a casting out of the demon, but as a healing (ἐθεράπευσεν), indicating that there was serious physical defect to be remedied.  Matthew 17:14-20 =  Mark 9:17 ff. =  Luke 9:37-43 records in case in which both deafness and dumbness were found along with epilepsy and periodical mental derangement. Mt. and Lk. do not give the features of deafness and dumbness, but confine themselves to the mental features, which they do not describe so fully as Mark.  Mark 7:32-37 is a peculiarly interesting instance of deafness combined with incapacity of speech. The description is κωφὸν καὶ μογιλάλον. The deafness might give rise to the stammering, and the fact that total dumbness had not resulted rather points to a comparatively early stage of the affliction. The signs employed by Jesus in the healing are exactly adapted to reach the intelligence of such a defect-bound soul (see art. Cures).

2. Fever and allied diseases. —Various diseases of a kindred nature to fever were common in the East and from the earliest times, and were probably not very rigorously distinguished from each other: fever, ague, and a wasting disease resembling Mediterranean fever. The NT speaks of πυρετός, ‘fever,’ in  Luke 4:38 and  John 4:52. The term in  Matthew 8:14 and  Mark 1:30 is πυρέσσουσα; while in  Luke 4:38 the illness of Peter’s wife’s mother is spoken of (possibly with a reference to the division made by the Greeks into greater and lesser fevers) as one in which the patient was συνεχομένη πυρετῷ μεγάλῳ, indicating a continued and probably malignant fever, rather than an intermittent feverish attack such as characterizes ague. The super-normal feature of the healing consisted in the immediacy of the recovery without the regular debility following the disease. The ailment described in the Gospels was probably a form of malarial fever which prevailed in the valleys of Palestine and round the Sea of Galilee.

3. Skin diseases. —The OT bears witness to the prevalence in Palestine of many forms of cutaneous disease, and the writings of travellers and eye-witnesses testify to the fact that these are still fearfully common, being perhaps the most characteristic malady of the East. These varieties of skin disease are not referred to in the NT, the only one in evidence there being that most dreaded affection of the skin, which was also in the worse forms a serious constitutional malady affecting the whole organism, which bears the name Leprosy (wh. see).

4. A solitary case of dropsy is recorded in  Luke 14:2, described as ὑδρωπικός. No account is given of the trouble, the controversy with the Pharisees regarding the right use of the Sabbath being the main interest. No indication is given as to the seat of the disease which caused the dropsy, whether kidneys, heart, or liver.

5. Diseases of the nervous system. —Out of 22 cases of healing wrought by Jesus upon individuals, 8, and most probably 10, are to be classed among nervous disorders, either with or without the complication of psychical disturbance. The general exorcisms which mark our Lord’s career are of the same order, and among the general healings of sickness and infirmity which are recorded some may reasonably be supposed to be of the same character, and possibly many of them were purely nervous or hysterical afflictions. Disease of brain centres or of the nerve may also account for some of the cases of blindness. The attempt, however, to show (1) that our Lord’s healings may be all reduced to cases of hysteria and of temporary nervous disorder, such as readily yield to treatment by known therapeutic remedies, and (2) that these are the best attested of the miracles, signally fails (see art. Miracles); and yet it may be freely recognized that many of the ailments cured by Jesus belonged to the nervous category. It still remains that those who desire to minimize to the fullest extent the super-normal powers of Jesus are not helped by these facts, for in order to deal effectively with these troubles He must not only have removed the disturbing cause in the psychical nature, but also brought a Divine power to bear on the whole nervous system, dispersing in some cases organic defect and disease.

Under this head are included—

(1) Paralysis or Palsy (see art. Paralysis).

(2) Epilepsy . The cases in the NT of this distressing nervous malady are complicated with forms of mental disturbance (see art. Lunatic). But it may be supposed that among those who were regarded as possessed and whose restoration was included under the general exorcisms, some were cases of simple epilepsy (wh. see).

(3) Probably the two cases of general impotence must be included here—mentioned in  John 5:2;  John 5:9 and  Luke 13:11-17 (see art. Impotence).

(4) In all likelihood also the man with the withered hand was one nervously afflicted. The case is recorded in  Matthew 12:9-13,  Mark 3:1-5,  Luke 6:6-11. The incapacity and wasting might be due to ( a ) infantile paralysis, the disease arresting the development and growth of tissue, leaving the limb shrunk and withered; or ( b ) it may have been congenital; or ( c ) it might be due to some direct injury to the main nerve of the limb, preventing its proper nutrition.

Among the halt and withered of  John 5:3 probably there were cases of chronic rheumatism, joint diseases, and other wasting ailments, in many instances complicated with nervous exhaustion and weakness, if not with positive disease.

6. Nervous and psychical diseases. —Cases of lunacy, of epilepsy combined with insanity and perhaps those allied with idiocy, and others generally described as instances of demonic possession are given in the Gospels, and are to be recognized as having a twofold causation, on the one side physical, on the other psychical; and the problem as to which of these is primary in any particular case is not to be lightly determined. In this connexion arises the outstanding question as to the possibility of a genuine spiritual possession (see art. Lunatic), a matter which may well remain with us for some time yet as a challenge both to medical and to theological investigation. The science of anthropology may throw much light upon it, and possibly in the course of further inquiry some of the conclusions of that science may be found in need of serious modification.

Literature.—For facts relating to the nature and spread of disease in Oriental lands, and especially in Syria, consult Hirsch, Handbook of Historical Pathology (Sydenbam Soc. Tr.); Macgowan in Jewish Intelligence and Journal of Missionary Labours , 1846; Thomson, Land and Book , pp. 140–149, 356, and, for leprosy, ch. 43; also consult generally ‘Krankheiten’ in Herzog’s PR E [Note: RE Real-Encyklopädie fur protest. Theologic und Kirche.] 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] ; Jahn, Archœologia Biblica , pt. i. ch. xii.; J. Risdon Bennett, Diseases of Bible  ; Hobart, Medical Language of St. Luke  ; Mason Good, Study of Medicine  ; art. by Macalister on ‘Medicine’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible. For Talmudic conception of disease and medical treatment in vogue, see Wunderhar, Biblisch-Talmudische Medicin .

T. H. Wright.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2]

To understand the biblical records concerning illness it is necessary to think oneself back into a world that knew nothing of germs, bacteria, viruses, antisepsis, anesthesia, the circulation of the blood, or the precise difference among catalepsy, "clinical death, " coma, and "final death."

Something was known of anatomy from animal sacrifices; we read of heart, liver, kidneys, bowels, bones, sinews, flesh, and skin (with some hesitation over translation), but the function of each was not understood. Most references to human organs are metaphorical: The heart is the seat of the will, the bowels of compassion. Similarly, many of the terms used for diseases and infirmities are unknown, and translation is occasionally reduced to informed guessing.

It is helpful sometimes to suggest modern names for conditions whose description puzzles us. In  Deuteronomy 28:22 , "wasting disease" may well be tuberculosis; "fever" is likely to be the prevalent malaria; in the Greek version, the word chosen for "inflammation" means "ague, " possibly another form of malaria; and "scorching heat" could be almost any skin infection. The most common "pestilence" in the Middle East over the centuries was the virulent "bubonic plague, " its "tumors" being the swollen glands characteristic of the disease ( 2 Samuel 24:15; the Greek translation of  1 Samuel 5:6-12 ,; and the Assyrian record of the story in  2 Kings 19:35 ,; both mention rats, the usual carriers of this infection ).

 Psalm 31:10-11,38:5-11 , and  Zechariah 14:12 are said to describe one disfiguring form of smallpox. Second Chronicles 21:19 probably refers to dysentery, and the RSV so translates at   Acts 28:8 . We would probably speak of Saul's manic-depressive insanity ( 1 Samuel 16:14-23;  18:10-16;  19:9-10 ); of Nebuchadnezzar's "paranoia with (ox?) delusions" (see  Daniel 4:16,25 ,  33 ); and of the "apoplexy" of Nabal ( 1 Samuel 25:37-38 ); and possibly also of Ananias and Sapphira ( Acts 5:5,10 ).

The Shunammite's child apparently collapsed because of sunstroke, a common danger ( 2 Kings 4:18-20;  Psalm 121:6 ). "Crippled from birth" ( Acts 3:2 ) suggests congenital club-foot; "she was bent over and could not straighten up at all" ( Luke 13:11 ) recalls the widespread curvature of the spine (tubercular, or osteoarthritic?).

Among skin diseases we may hesitantly recognize boils, eczema, and skin cancer; the details in  2 Chronicles 16:12-14 suggest gangrene. Leprosy was prevalent, and variously described as "blotches, " "scars, " "eruptions, " "whiteness, " "bright patches, " and "ulceration"; it had many forms, most of which can be only approximately identified in the Hebrew terms. Despite the ignorance about germs, the danger of contagion was realized and isolation enforced. Detailed religious rites of "purification" from leprosy's "uncleanness" were elaborated. Whether "true" (most virulent) leprosy is named in the Bible is much debated.

Nervous ailments are more difficult to recognize in the Bible's language. The paralysis of  Mark 2:3 and the "shriveling" of   Mark 3:1 were possibly of nervous origin, if not accidental. Much illness was attributed to "bile" ("gall, "   Job 16:13 ), and Timothy's trouble, in view of his timidity, could well have been nervous dyspepsia ( 1 Timothy 5:23 ).

Blindness was very common—both the highly contagious, lice-carried trachoma and optic atrophy in the aged ( Genesis 27:1 Isaac;   1 Samuel 3:2 Eli). Sudden blindness (  2 Kings 6:18;  Acts 13:11 ) has been called "hypnotic." Based on  Galatians 4:12-15,6:11 , it is often inferred that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was eye disease (cf.  Acts 9:3,9 ,  18 ); others argue that the "thorn" was malaria.

Precision and certainty on the theme of disease are obviously rare, creating problems for translators. At  Mark 9:17,25 , the RSV text speaks of spirit possession, the page-heading of "epilepsy"; at  Matthew 17:15 the RSV uses "epileptic" for Matthew's "moonstruck"; at   Matthew 4:24 , epileptics are distinguished from demoniacs.

In general, neither climate, sanitation arrangements, water supply, nor prevailing ignorance, fostered good health in Bible lands. Infant mortality was high, and large families were in part compensated for it. Life expectancy is often asserted to have been short, despite the recorded ages of the patriarchs. But "sixty and ten" or "eighty" of  Psalm 90:10 (even if amended to state life's "highest point") is not greatly different from our own life expectancy today. The gathering infirmities of old age are described in   Ecclesiastes 12:1 with a sympathy and poetry rare in literature.

Lacking scientific explanations, Judaism had to seek other causes of the ubiquitous sickness. Disease had a religious dimension for all ancient peoples, partly from the natural recourse to superhuman help in danger or distress; idol shrines at Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome were as beset with sufferers as was the Jerusalem temple. Ill fortune of all kinds being inflicted by the gods, they alone could remove it.

For Jewish minds the underlying problem was especially acute. God created all things, and they were "very good." Whatever in human experience was not "good" was therefore alien to God's intention. Pain, sickness, and death must be due to self-willed interference by humankind with God's perfect plan. So  Genesis 1-3 presents the most common Jewish theodicy: Sickness and distress are God's judgment on evil. Even the pains of childbirth are held to be a punishment for sin (  Genesis 3:16; cf.  Deuteronomy 28:15-68;  32:39 ). The code of punishments prescribed by the law for particular sins rests upon this evaluation, that the sinner should suffer.

Job's friends thus argued that his disease and suffering proved his sinfulness; the Pharisees argued likewise, as did Jesus' disciples ( John 9:2 ); and Paul so interprets the sickness prevalent at Corinth ( 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 ). Job, however, resolutely affirmed his innocence, and the lesson of the book is that suffering may be permitted to test and vindicate devotion. Paul, too, looked upon his "thorn" as a spiritual discipline and education ( 1 Corinthians 11:30 ).

Another modification of the assumed connection between sickness and sin accepted that others might be innocently involved. The sins of the fathers might be visited upon children unborn ( Exodus 20:4 ), while social sins might bear most heavily upon one who bore the sins of others ( Isaiah 53 ). In this way, all are "bound securely in the bundle of the living" ( 1 Samuel 25:29 ), although against this Ezekiel and others protested (ez 18 cf.  Deuteronomy 24:16;  Jeremiah 31:29-30 ).

Jesus, too, very firmly rejected the theory that individual sickness and suffering were always due to individual sin, when the question was put to him concerning Pilate's cruelty to certain Galileans, and a falling tower that killed eighteen, and yet again in reply to his disciples ( Luke 13:1-5;  John 9:3 ). Jesus met sickness and affliction with unfailing sympathy, never with condemnation, even when some connection with sin might be assumed. He did pronounce forgiveness for a paralytic before healing him ( Mark 2:5 ), possibly to remove from the sufferer's mind the obstacle, based on received doctrine, that healing could not begin until the sin that caused it was pardoned. Or he may have diagnosed that patient's spiritual condition as clearly as his physical need. So Jesus warned another healed man to "stop sinning, " that nothing worse befall him ( John 5:14 ).

The teachers of moral wisdom in Israel preferred to lay the blame for physical deterioration upon particular indulgences and excess. Overindulgence in wine is frequently condemned on health grounds;  Proverbs 23:29-35 vividly describes the physical and mental effects of tarrying long over wine, especially mixed wines (cf.   Isaiah 28:7-8 ). Ben Sirach adds a strong warning, again on health grounds, against gluttony, and urges the therapeutic value of "industrious work" (margin: "moderate work" ). He inculcates a wise self-understanding in diet, and avoidance of any mere habit of luxury and gluttony ( Sirach 31:19-22;  37:27-31 ). Somewhat unexpectedly, Job blames unhealthy attitudes of mind for destroying those who know no better, "vexation" ("resentment" NIV), "jealousy" ("envy" NIV,  Job 5:2; cf. cheerfulness, despondency, sorrow,  Proverbs 15:13;  17:22 ). A psalmist teaches those who desire long life and "many good days" to keep from speaking evil and falseness, to depart from evil and practice good, and diligently to pursue peace in all situationsa clean mind, unburdened conscience, and peaceable spirit, making for healthy living ( Psalm 34:11-14 ,; quoted in  1 Peter 3:10-12 ).

Later, another dimension of the cause of disease and affliction was added to those of theologians and moralists: the idea of a world infested with living spirits, some benign but most malignant. In Israelite thought, some spirits, although working to hinder and deceive humans, were nevertheless messengers of God ( Judges 9:23;  1 Samuel 16:14 note contrast with "the Spirit of the Lord"   1 Kings 22:20-23 ). Such spirits, although evil, were under divine control.

New Testament belief in evil spirits ("demons") under the direction of a supreme devil was almost universal. To them were attributed disorders of all sorts, whether moral, mental, or physical. All were believed to be under the ultimate control of God, but he permitted their activity when sin gave them entrance, to punish sinfulness in humankind.

Evil spirits appear in the Gospels as causing dumbness ( Matthew 9:32 ), deafness ( Mark 9:25 ), blindness ( Matthew 12:22 ), spinal malformation ( Luke 13:11 ), epilepsy ( Mark 1:26;  9:26 ), madness (schizophrenia?  Mark 5:1-13 ). Often called "unclean" spirits (perhaps because of their association with Satan, degradation, and decay) the demons were recognized as powerful opponents of the divine will, in sharp contrast with the Holy Spirit, and everywhere the proximate cause of all humankind's misery and evil.

According to the Synoptic Gospels (John does not mention demons or exorcisms) Jesus dealt commandingly with sickness and affliction, firmly demanding the spirits be silent and leave the tormented. Luke, a physician, delights to show that Christ had overcome Satan, binding "the strong one" and spoiling his possessions. Jesus watched Satan fall from above, and by superior power delivered those whom demons had bound or afflicted (4:1-13,36, 41; 6:18; 8:2,26-35; 10:18; 11:15-26; 13:16).

The prevalence of disease and suffering in the ancient world inevitably influenced religious and ethical language. Isaiah describes the sad social and moral condition of Judah: "From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness" (1:6). His terms hover between medical descriptions and metaphors for moral sickness, as do those of  Psalm 38 . And this use of medical metaphors for spiritual and moral "sickliness" or "infirmity" continues into the New Testament in phrases like "the body is weak" ( Matthew 26:41 ), "weak in conscience" ( 1 Corinthians 8:7-12 ), "weak in faith" ( Romans 14:1-2;  15:1 ) and (morally) "powerless" ( Romans 5:6 ).

A similar association of ideas shaped Jesus' defense of his friendship with sinners as resembling the concern of the physician with the sick ( Matthew 9:11-12 ). Jesus does not say the sinner is "sick, " which might imply that sinfulness is misfortune rather than fault. But the parallel he draws lends some authority to the compassion of those who see the sinful as victims of their own folly or viciousness, and i need of help and understanding.

There is a moral blindness, deafness, shortsightedness, madness, paralysis, weakness, "seizure, " as deadly as the physical counterpart. It was easy to state the gospel of salvation in terms borrowed from unhappy experience of disease and afflictionas Jesus did at Nazareth ( Luke 4:16-21 )and be sure of being understood. The thought is carried further in the "soundness, " "healthiness" of true doctrine, teaching, words, faith, and speech, referred to nine times in the Pastoral Epistles, as appealing to, and promoting, sane, safe religion.

R. E. O. White

See also Health Heal; Suffering

Bibliography . A. W. F. Blunt and F. F. Bruce, Hastings Dictionary of the Bible  ; E. W. Heaton, Everyday Life in Old Testament Times .

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

Sickness and disease are among the results of sin that entered the human race when Adam sinned ( Genesis 3:16-19). Jesus’ healing of disease was one evidence that the kingdom of God had come and that Jesus had power over all the evil effects of sin ( Matthew 4:23;  Matthew 8:17;  Matthew 9:35;  Matthew 12:28). The age to come will see the complete removal of all sickness and disease ( Revelation 21:4;  Revelation 22:2).

At times God may use sickness to punish people for their sins ( Numbers 12:1-10;  2 Kings 5:25-27;  Psalms 38:3-6;  John 5:13-14;  Acts 12:23). Other times he may use sickness to make them more reliant on his power and grace ( 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). In most cases, however, it is not possible to say why people suffer from sickness, disability or disease ( John 9:1-3). The book of Job shows that no one should judge another with the accusation that the sufferer’s experience is because of personal sin ( Job 42:7; see Job ; Suffering ).

Among the diseases and disabilities that the Bible mentions are leprosy ( 2 Kings 7:3;  2 Kings 7:8;  Luke 17:12; see Leprosy ), epilepsy ( Matthew 4:24), dysentery ( Acts 28:8), nervous disorders ( 1 Samuel 16:14-23;  Daniel 4:33), deafness ( Leviticus 19:14;  Mark 7:32), dumbness ( Mark 7:37;  Mark 9:25), blindness ( 2 Samuel 5:8;  Mark 10:46;  John 9:1), paralysis ( John 5:4;  Acts 9:33), bone deformities ( Luke 5:18;  Luke 6:6;  Luke 13:11), boils ( 1 Samuel 5:6;  Isaiah 38:21), dropsy ( Luke 14:2) and various fevers ( Mark 1:30;  John 4:52;  Acts 28:8). (Concerning the connection between demon possession and certain diseases see Unclean Spirits .)

The Israelite laws governing cleansing, foods and diseases provided a standard of hygiene that helped protect people from many harmful diseases (see Uncleanness ). Nevertheless, some sickness was inevitable. At a time when the knowledge and facilities of modern medicine were not available, physicians and common people alike used whatever skills they had ( Genesis 50:2;  Jeremiah 8:22;  Mark 5:26) and whatever treatments were available to them ( 2 Kings 20:7;  Jeremiah 46:11;  Luke 10:34;  1 Timothy 5:23). Many of the non-Israelite physicians were actually sorcerers ( 2 Chronicles 16:12; see Magic ).

King James Dictionary [4]

DISEASE, n. Dizeze. dis and ease.

1. In its primary sense, pain, uneasiness, distress, and so used by Spenser but in this sense, obsolete. 2. The cause of pain or uneasiness distemper malady sickness disorder any state of a living body in which the natural functions of the organs are interrupted or disturbed, either by defective or preternatural action, without a disrupture of parts by violence, which is called a wound. The first effect of disease is uneasiness or pain, and the ultimate effect is death. A disease may affect the whole body, or a particular limb or part of the body. We say a diseased limb a disease in the head or stomach and such partial affection of the body is called a local or topical disease. The word is also applied to the disorders of other animals, as well as to those of man and to any derangement of the vegetative functions of plants.

The shafts of disease shoot across our path in such a variety of courses, that the atmosphere of human life is darkened by their number, and the escape of an individual becomes almost miraculous.

3. A disordered state of the mind or intellect, by which the reason is impaired. 4. In society, vice corrupt state of morals. Vices are called moral diseases.

A wise man converses with the wicked, as a physician with the sick, not to catch the disease, but to cure it.

5. Political or disorder, or vices in a state any practice which tends to disturb the peace of society, or impede or prevent the regular administration of government.

The instability, injustice and confusion introduced into the public councils have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have every where perished.

DISEASE, dizeze.

1. To interrupt or impair any or all the natural and regular functions of the several organs of a living body to afflict with pain or sickness to make morbid used chiefly in the passive participle, as a diseased body, a diseased stomach but diseased may here be considered as an adjective. 2. To interrupt or render imperfect the regular functions of the brain, or of the intellect to disorder to derange. 3. To infect to communicate disease to, by contagion. 4. To pain to make uneasy.

Webster's Dictionary [5]

(1): ( v. t.) To deprive of ease; to disquiet; to trouble; to distress.

(2): ( n.) Lack of ease; uneasiness; trouble; vexation; disquiet.

(3): ( n.) An alteration in the state of the body or of some of its organs, interrupting or disturbing the performance of the vital functions, and causing or threatening pain and weakness; malady; affection; illness; sickness; disorder; - applied figuratively to the mind, to the moral character and habits, to institutions, the state, etc.

(4): ( v. t.) To derange the vital functions of; to afflict with disease or sickness; to disorder; - used almost exclusively in the participle diseased.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [6]

 Exodus 15:26 (c) The word may be used to symbolize the wicked habits and ways that this sinful world fastens upon those who belong to it but from which the Christians are delivered.

 Psalm 103:3 (c) Here it is indicated that every wrong, harmful and hurtful thing in the Christian's life will come under the beneficent and blessed healing power of the Lord Jesus if he wills it so.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [7]

DISEASE . See Medicine.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

(properly מִהֲלֶה machaleh', Νόσος ). Diseases are not unfrequently alluded to in the Old Testament; but, as no description is given of them, except in one or two instances (see below), it is for the most part impossible to determine much with certainty concerning their nature. The same indefiniteness prevails to a very great degree in the mention of diseases in the New Testament, but few of which are sufficiently explicit to identify them precisely with the descriptions of modern pathology. With respect to this subject, it is known that there are certain words of ancient origin which are used in the Scriptures to express diseases of some kind or other; it will therefore be a prominent attempt with us to ascertain what the diseases are that were designed to be expressed by those words, which will be noticed in their appropriate places. (See Pestilence). The ancients were accustomed to attribute the origin of diseases, particularly of those the natural causes of which they did not understand, to the immediate interference of the Deity ( Deuteronomy 28:60;  2 Kings 19:35;  1 Chronicles 21:12-15;  Psalms 39:9-11;  Acts 12:23). Hence they were frequently denominated by the ancient Greeks Μάστιγες , or the scourges of God, a word which is employed by the physician Luke himself ( Luke 7:21), and also in  Mark 5:29;  Mark 5:34. Two of the plagues of Egypt were of this character. According to Prosper Alpinus ( De Med. Aegypt .), diseases prevalent in Egypt, and other countries of a similar climate, were ophthalmies, or diseases of the eyes; leprosies, inflammations of the brain, pains in the joints, the hernia, the stone in the kidneys and bladder, the phthisic, hectic, pestilential, and tertian fevers; weakness of the stomach, and obstructions in the liver and the spleen. The most prevalent diseases of the East at the present day are cutaneous diseases, malignant fevers, dysentery, and ophthalmia. Of the first of these, the most remarkable are leprosy and elephantiasis. The latter is usually thought to have been the disease of Job (q.v.). (See Leprosy). To the same class also belongs the singular disease called the Mal D'Aleppo , or "Aleppo button," a species of Felon , which is confined to Aleppo, Bagdad, Aintab, and the villages on the Segour and Kowick (Russell's Nat. History Of Aleppo , 2:299). The Egyptians are subject to an eruption of red spots and pimples, which cause a troublesome smarting. The eruption returns every year towards the end of June or beginning of July, and is on that account attributed to the rising of the Nile (Volney, 1:231). Malignant fevers are very frequent, and of this class is the great scourge of the East, the plague (q.v.), which surpasses all others in virulence and contagiousness. The Egyptian ophthalmia is prevalent throughout Egypt and Syria, and is the cause of blindness being so frequent in those countries. (See Blindness). Of inflammatory diseases in general, Dr. Russell (1.c.) says that at Aleppo he has not found them 'more' frequent, nor more rapid in their course, than in Great Britain. Epilepsy and diseases of the mind are commonly met with. Melancholy monomaniacs are regarded as sacred persons in Egypt, and are held in the highest veneration by all Mohammedans. (See Lunatic).

The spermatic issue mentioned in  Leviticus 15:5, cannot refer to gonorrhaea virulenta, as has been supposed by Michaelis and Hebenstreit, for the person who exposed himself to infection in the various ways mentioned was only unclean until the evening, which is far too short a time to allow of its being ascertained whether he had escaped contagion or not. Either, then, the law of purification had no reference whatever to the contagiousness of the disease (which is hardly admissible), or the disease alluded to was really not contagious. (See Issue).

Hezekiah (q.v.) suffered, according to our version, from a boil ( 2 Kings 20:7). The term here used, שִׁחִין , shichin', means literally inflammation; but we have no means of identifying it with what we call boil (q.v).

The disease of Jehoram (q.v.), spoken of in  2 Chronicles 21:18 (comp. the similar case of Herod,  Acts 12:23), is probably referable to chronic dysentery, which sometimes occasions an exudation of fibrine from the inner coats of the intestines. The fluid fibrine thus exuded coagulates into a continuous tubular membrane, of the same shape as the intestine itself, and as such is expelled. This form of the disease has been noticed by Dr. Good under the name of diarrhaea tubularis (Study of Med. 1:287). A precisely similar formation of false membranes, as they are termed, takes place in the windpipe in severe cases of croup.

The malady of Nebuchadnezzar (q.v.), alluded to in  Daniel 4:33, was a species of Melancholy Monomania , called by medical authors Zoanthropia , or more commonly Lycanthropia , because the transformation into a wolf was the most ordinary illusion. Esquirol considers it to have originated in the ancient custom of sacrificing animals. But, whatever effect this practice might have had at the time, the cases recorded are independent of any such influence; and it really does not seem necessary to trace this particular hallucination to a remote historical cause, when we remember that the imaginary transformations into inanimate objects, such as glass, butter, etc., which are of every-day occurrence, are equally irreconcilable with the natural instincts of the mind. The same author relates that a nobleman of the court of Louis XIV was in the habit of frequently putting his head out of a window, in order to satisfy the urgent desire he had to bark (Esquirol, Maladies Montales, 1:622). Calmet informs us that the nuns of a German convent were transformed into cats, and went mewing over the whole house at a fixed hour of the day.

On the cases of persons possessed with unclean spirits, (See Demoniac). For other specifications of disease in the Bible, (See Blains); (See Botch); (See Flux); (See Haemorrhoids); (See Murrain); (See Bloody Sweat); (See Palsy); (See Lame); (See Impotent); (See Withered); (See Lice), etc. On the methods practiced by the ancient and modern Orientals for curing diseases, (See Healing); (See Medicine); (See Physician), etc. The following special treatises exist on the subject: Michaelis, Lex Mosaica De Morbis Illustrata (Gott. 1757; also in his Syntagma, 2, No. 4); Ader, De Morbis In N.T. (Tolet. 1621); Bartholinus, De Morbis Biblicis (F. ad M. 1697, 1705, etc.); Eschenbach, Scripta Medico-Biblia (Rost. 1779); Jordan, De Divino In Morbis (F. ad V. 1651); Mead, Medica Sacra (Amst. 1749; in German, Leipz. 1777); Richter, Dissertt. medicae (Gotting. 1775); Anon. Untersuch. med. hermen. (Leipz. 1794); Warliz, De morbis Biblicis (Viteb. 1714); Wolf, Von den Krankheiten der Juden (Mann. 1777). (See Sickness).