The Cult of Asklepios
1. Contextualize: What are the methods by which the divine being heals in the
accounts, and what are the various methods by which people pay for the
services of the divine?
2. Analyze: What do those methods of payment teach you about the value of
For two points, answer the following two questions, for one point each:
1. Every healthcare system creates a clinical reality in which classification is
required. What categories do you find in the biblical texts, and what do these
categories teach you about how illness is understood in this particular
2. Select one patient from the Gospel of Mark account and identify their social
location. Explain what their social location teaches you about how Jesus (in
The Gospel of Mark) understands distribution of care.
JUST Select one of the options below for your essay. DON'T WRITE THE ESSAY
NOW. You are provided with a topic, some research questions and primary source
options. You are not limited to the research questions that I have offered, but they
can help get you started. You will find all the resources you need to complete this
assignment in the folder titled "Analytical Essay," in which you will find links to
primary and secondary sources. ALSO CHOOSE ONE OF THE ARTICLES THAT
YOU HAVE READ TO BE YOUR PRIMARY SOURCE.
1. Anorexia: nervosa and mirabilis. What distinctions exist between anorexia
nervosa and anorexia mirabilis ("holy anorexia"), and how can an understanding
of—and appreciation for—religious practices related to food intake or food denial
assist in addressing the challenges of eating disorders and/or body dysmorphic
disorders? Primary source: selection from The Life of St. Catherine of Siena or a
primary source of your choosing.
2. Consecrated Virginity and Slut Shaming. The movement of consecrated virginity
within Christianity created space for women to claim ownership over their marital
status, sexual activity and gynecological health…but it is complicated. This topic asks
you to consider texts that argue for women’s sexual autonomy, to reflect on where
authority is located in these theologies, and to ask how these texts assist in thinking
about the way we think and speak publically about women’s sexual and
gynecological health. Primary sources to consider: the Acts of Thecla; Jerome’s
Letter 22 to Eustochium; Sophronios’ Life of Mary of Egypt; the Canons of Elvira or
The Life of Pelagia.
3. Religion and Public Health. How does religion and/or religious belief inform
responses to disease or the fear of disease? What can we learn from historic,
religious responses to disease to better prepare us to respond to disease, the spread
of disease, or fear of the spread of disease? Primary sources to consider: Cyprian of
Carthage, Treatise 7, Mortality; Gregory Nazianzus, On Love for the Poor; Procopius,
History of the Wars; any number of primary sources from The Black Death or a
primary source of your choosing.
4. Self-Harm and Ascetic Discipline. A naïve or uninformed approach to monastic
asceticism could lead one to conclude that monks and nuns are self-harming; how
can knowledge of theology of purification (body mortification, deprivation or the
sick role) assist us in better understanding an individual’s decision to engage in
methods of self-harm such as cutting, burning, healing prevention, carving or
trichotillomania? Primary sources to consider include: The Lives of Simeon the
Stylite, The Life of the Holy Radegund or a primary source of your choosing.
5. The Noon-Day Demon. The World Health Organization claims “an estimated 350
million”  people suffer from depression. Evidence of depression can be found in
ancient and medieval texts. What insight can religious approaches to mental health
offer either to those who care for the mentally ill or some of those 350 million?
Primary sources to consider: selections from John Cassian’s The Institutes, from The
Life of Christina Markyate; Thomas Aquinas’ Q. 35, Second Part of the Summa
Theologica, selections from The Book of Margery Kempe, selections from Martin
Luther’s Letters of Spiritual Counsel or a primary source of your choosing.