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Spiritual Healing
Science, Meaning, and Discernment
PAPERBACK; Published: 10/15/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7093-3
Price: $ 36.99
261 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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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

“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
The Expository Times
“Much can be gleaned from this rich volume for readers capable of suppressing the constant irritation produced by the language of ‘spiritual healing.’”
Modern Theology
“As one might expect from an interdisciplinary master class, this book will yield new insights even for readers with longstanding interest in theology and science or medicine.”