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Posted on: Nov 12, 2015

Palliative Care in Early Christianity

Monday, November 30 – 4 to 5 p.m. – HA 015
Presented by Dr. Steven Muir

This presentation is open to the public. It will build on the November 5 panel discussion on physician-assisted death.

In light of current proposals to increase palliative care as a response to physician-assisted death, it is good for us to be reminded of Christianity’s historical roots as health-care providers.

In his thought-provoking 1996 book The Rise of Christianity, the American sociologist Rodney Stark argued that social factors contributed to the rise of Christianity.  In particular, Stark proposed that the palliative care offered by early Christians was a community-building endeavor which attracted outsiders to the movement and gave Christians a distinctive identity in the Roman Empire.  This argument has merit, and I review the historical evidence for charity and health care in early Christianity.