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Illness and Health Care in the Ancient Near East
The Role of the Temple in Greece, Mesopotamia, and Israel
by Hector Avalos
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Table of Contents
Using the focal points of temples and their roles in the diagnoses of illnesses and subsequent provision of health care, Hector Avalos breaks new ground in this unique and insightful study on medical care in the ancient world.
Publisher: Harvard Semitic Museum
Publication date: 1995
Bibliographic info: xxv + 463 pages
"Avalos provides a wealth of insightfully presented information on the systems of health care in the ancient Near East. He exhaustively and judiciously treats every facet of Israel's system, especially the "medical theology" of the priestly tradition. His analysis of the systems of Greece and Mesopotamia is understandably selective. His work is thoroughly documented. This study will be a great asset for all who are intersted in the role of illness and health care in the ancient Near East."
--Ronald A. Simkins, Creighton University, Omaha, NE 68178, in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 1998
"The subject matter of this book is timely, since many important medical texts from Mesopotamia have been published in cuneiform copies requiring editing and analysis, as well as comparisons with other contemporary systems of medicine of the region. Avalos argues that medical practices in Greece, Mesopotamia, and Isael are indeed comparable. Unlike the specific textual parallels between Greek and Akkadian medical texts provided by Dierlinde Goltz (Studien zur altorientalischen und griechischen Hielkunde [Wiesbaden 1974]), Avalos is primarily interested in the general systems of health care and attitudes towards illness in these respective societies. His study focuses on the roles of the temples in healing, and specifically the Aesclepius temples in Greece, Gula temple(s) in Mesopotamia, and the Jerusalem temple (as well as other shrines) in ancient Israel, with data drawn from diverse genres of literature, such as prayers and wisdom texts, as well as from archaeological finds. Avalos describes his approach as anthropological (rather than strictly philological), hoping to find answers to certain universal questions among his data in Greek, Akkadian, and Hebrew."
--Mark Geller, University College, London, in Journal of Semitic Studies 1998
"This book investigates the role of the temples of Asclepius in Greece, of Gula (Nin-Isina) in Mesopotamia, and of Yahweh in Israel. The functions of those temples in health care appear to be quite diverse. The approach of this book is that of medical anthropology, which is refreshing, if not healthy, for old style philologists, like this reviewer. The work done by us, specialists in these three fields, is here being reviewed by an outsider and that is exactly why those specialists publish their work: for them to make their material available to others for further evaluation. We do not write only for our immediate colleagues. Hector Avalos studied the three areas with much energy and we learn much that has been not seen before. For example, he points out that a full treatment by a physician and exorcist in Mesopotamia must have involved much, in terms of time, material and personnel. Such a "maximizing" strategy was only possible for the upper classes (pp. 139-42, 159-63, 189-91)." --M. Stol, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, in Bibliotheca Orientalis,
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