Here is a short synopsis of a chapter from the book Healing in Byzantium: Faith and Science , in which we find the Orthodox monastic roots of the social inclusion of persons with diability within the community both within the monastery and in the society at large:
The Monastic Health Care System and the Development of the Hospital in Late Antiquity by Andrew Crislip, Ph.D.
A deep concern with the medical, religious, and social aspects of illness runs throughout early monastic literature. A concern with illness and health, and indeed a focus on the body, is by no means unique in late antique ascetic literature, but is a common feature of late Roman philosophical and ethical belles-lettres. But in contrast to the medical obsession that so consumed members of the Roman aristocracy, monastic leaders wrestled less with the interpretation of sickness within their own bodies than with the treatment of the sick within society. Such an overriding concern with the care for the sick, and also with the social inclusion of the sick and disabled within the community, pervades monastic rules, letters, homilies, and biographies from the fourth and fifth centuries. These sources, from monasteries in Egypt, Cappadocia, Syria, Palestine, and the Latin West, provide a picture of the techniques and institutions-medical, religious, and social-by which sickness was treated in early Christian monasteries. In the early monastic health care system, monastics had access to inpatient hospital care and outpatient ambulatory care. Monastics were treated by doctors and nurses using the standard medical treatments of Greek and Egyptian medicine. They were offered material and emotional comfort in their time of need, and were exempted from their normal responsibilities of work, diet and prayer. Monastics were furthermore guaranteed social inclusion and freedom from ostracism, and guaranteed comfort and care in their old age. The care of sick monastics was an integral and innovative feature of monastic life. Why did such a health care system appear within the early monastic movement? The monastic health care system was a function of monasticism’s unique social organization, its structure and scale, and its isolation from the rest of society. That is, the monastic health care system was a systemic necessity, an unavoidable structural feature of the monastic system. In particular, we may understand the appearance of the monastic health care system as a necessary consequence of monasticism’s renunciation of traditional social bonds, especially the support network of the family. The innovative approaches to healing within early Christian monasticism would bear a significant influence on the development of the hospital in early Byzantium. This influence may be witnessed most clearly through Basil the Great’s hospital outside Caesarea. Through this “new city” of Christian charity all the necessities of life formerly provided within the cloister (including medical care and a range of non-medical charitable services, as well as an emphasis on the social inclusion of the sick) were now provided to non-monastic society at large.
by Andrew Crislip, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Religion at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, in Honolulu, where he teaches courses in Biblical Studies, Early Christianity, and Theory and Method in Religious Studies. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 2002.
In Healing in Byzantium: Faith and Science
Volume I of the Healing Initiative Publications
With a forward by Jaroslav Pelikan, this first publication of the Healing Initiative of the Institute of Medicine, Psychology, and Religion compiles cross-disciplinary scholarship to offer a fresh look at Healing Practices in Byzantium, particularly at how ancient Greek holistic models of health and personhood might inform holistic healing practices today. Read about contributors to this book and other IMPR projects here.
As the volume nears publication, advance orders receive a 20% discount:
Contents: John T. Chirban, Ph.D., Th.D: Holistic Healing in Byzantium; Understanding the Importance of Epistemologies and Methodologies in Holistic Healing — Timothy Miller, Ph.D: The Byzantine Hospital — Andrew Crislip, Ph.D: The Monastic Health Care System and the Development of the Hospital in Late Antiquity — Derek Krueger, Ph.D: Healing and the Scope of Religion in Byzantium: A Response to Miller and Crislip – Demetrios Constantelos, Ph.D: Faith and Healing in Sacramental Life in the Byzantine and Modern Greek Orthodox Experience — Alice-Mary Talbot, Ph.D: Faith Healing in Byzantium — Maria Evangelatou, Ph.D: Virtuous Soul, Healthy Body: The Holistic Concept of Health in Byzantine Representations of Christ’s Healing Miracles — James Skedros, Ph.D: St. Demetrios and Faith Healing in Thessalonike — Rossitza Roussanova, Ph.D: Healing the Body, Saving the Soul: Viewing Christ’s Healing Ministry in Byzantium — Maximos Aghiorgoussis, Th.D: Theological Dimensions of Holistic Healing — Timothy Patitsas, Ph.D: Organic Healing and the Healing of our Epistemology
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