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Wipf & Stock Healing, Weakness, and Power: Perspectives on Healing in the Writings of Mark, Luke, and Paul

Healing by Jesus and the apostles is not a popular subject for biblical studies today, but the importance of healing in the first-century eastern Roman Empire was enormous. In the New Testament writings of Mark, Luke and Paul we find considerable variation in their use of divine healing. With respect to Jesus' healing, Mark and Luke both emphasize it, but differ in their representation of its purpose and source. Also, Mark's accounts of Jesus' healing combine with his overall description in the Gospel to underline his theological view (a theologia crucis), while Luke depicts healing as showing primarily the glory of God (although a theologia crucis is also present) and he presents the theological aspect of Jesus' healing within each healing narrative.

Healing in the early church is then compared in Acts and Paul's undisputed letters. Luke continues to emphasize the power and evidential value of healing in spreading the gospel. Paul, instead, emphasizes the 'essence' of Jesus' ministry, love and compassion, and underplays healing , both by himself and by members of the churches he planted. The main reason for this seems to be because of his 'thorn in the flesh'; his physical weakness demonstrates that the gospel truth shines only because of Christ's influence. Paul's illness probably also sensitizes him to the risk of healing becoming a power which could compromise a fellowship based on love and equality.

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