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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Women Healing/Healing Women: The Genderization of Healing in Early Christianity
Wainwright, Elaine†M.

London/Oakville, Conn.: Equinox/David Brown, 2006 pp. xvi + 262. $26.95

Description: The impetus for this book was the startling realization that within early Christianity which is characterised by healing, no women are explicitly commissioned to heal. The work begins, therefore, with a search for the women who were healers in the Graeco-Roman world of the late Hellenistic and early Roman period, finding them honoured in inscriptions, named by medical writers, and stereotyped by playwrights and other literateurs. What emerges, therefore, by the first century of the Common Era, is a world in which women functioned as healers as well as healed and that healing was a site of contestation in relation to gender. The interpretive lens brought to bear on the wide range of sources used in this study is a multi-dimensional one informed by feminism, post-colonialism and ecological studies. The methodology is socio-rhetorical drawing on tools from medical anthropology. The turning of the multi-dimensional lens and these tools on the gospels, informed by the context constructed in the first part of the study, enables new interpretations of the stories of women healing to emerge. A woman pours out healing ointment; healed women bear on their bodies the language describing Jesus and the stereo-typed demon-possessed women of the Lucan gospel may, indeed, be healers.

Subjects: Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Early Church Origins

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Review by John J. Pilch
Published 4/5/2008
Citation: John J. Pilch, review of Elaine M. Wainwright, Women Healing/Healing Women: The Genderization of Healing in Early Christianity, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2008).

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