Spiritual healing has been a cornerstone of Christian belief from its beginnings, although there are various interpretations of what exactly it is and how it happens. To address these questions, the contributors to this volume come together to examine spiritual healing from a number of disciplinary perspectives. How can such healing be explained through a scientific or medical lens? What do biblical and historical instantiations of it tell us today? And how are we to think of it as anthropologists, philosophers, or theologians? Finally, what does all this mean for those seeking spiritual healing for themselves, or pastors walking alongside the afflicted?
Deftly edited by theologian Sarah Coakley, Spiritual Healing offers a composite narrative that investigates the many intermingled factors at work in this intriguing phenomenon. The result is a human story as much as it is a theological one, satisfying discerning believers and skeptics alike in its rigorous pursuit of truth and meaning.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Spiritual Healing, Science, and Meaning Sarah Coakley Part One: Biblical and Historical Perspectives 1. Healing, Meaning, and Discernment in the Biblical Text Beverly Roberts Gaventa 2. Healing and Ecclesial Response in Nineteenth-Century Catholic France Emma Anderson 3. Healing, Belief, and Interpretation in Nineteenth-Century Protestant America Heather D. Curtis Part Two: What Science Has to Show Us 4. Meaning in the Neural Investigation of Pain Howard L. Fields 5. Brain and Cognitive Processes in Healing Malcolm Jeeves 6. Prayer and Placebo in Scientific Research Anne Harrington Part Three: Philosophical Insights 7. Philosophy of Mind and Emergentism in Thought about Healing Philip Clayton 8. Healing and the Moral Problems of Efficacy Stephen R. L. Clark Part Four: Anthropological and Pastoral Perspectives 9. Contemporary Healing in Anthropological Perspective Thomas J. Csordas 10. Healing in Pastoral Care John Swinton Conclusion: Whither Spiritual Healing Now? Sarah Coakley
Sarah Coakley is Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity Emerita at Cambridge University and research professor at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. Her other books include God, Sexuality and the Self: An Essay 'On the Trinity', The New Asceticism: Sexuality, Gender, and the Quest for God, and Sacrifice Regained: Reconsidering the Rationality of Religious Belief.
“This groundbreaking study of spiritual healing probes the scientific and philosophical issues with clarity and insight. Essential for anyone looking for trustworthy guidance on these issues.” — Keith Ward University of Oxford
“Coakley’s fine interdisciplinary collection of essays by scholars in philosophy, theology, history, anthropology, neuroscience and pastoral counseling should attract a range of readers (secular and religious) interested in the various ways interpretive analysis clarifies the abidingly important yet still murky question of how meanings heal. With an expert editorial hand, Coakley compares, contrasts, and brings into engagement divergent and, in a few instances, seemingly unassimilable studies, asking their authors to confront each other in search of more capacious and availing answers. No small achievement!” — Arthur Kleinman, MD Harvard University
“By making the ‘spiritual’ not an alternative to the physical but a window on the divine, and by making ‘healing’ not a synonym for magic but a way of encapsulating our longing for salvation, Sarah Coakley and her companions offer an intelligent, accessible, and inspiring study of perhaps the greatest interdisciplinary subject of them all. Highly recommended for anyone who cares about body, mind, and spirit—in local parish or theological seminar alike.” — Samuel Wells vicar, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London
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