Hippocrates in a World of Pagans and Christians
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995 - 315 pages
In Hippocrates in a World of Pagans and Christians, Temkin shows how the perennial appeal of Hippocratic practice helped establish the relationship between scientific medicine and monotheistic religion. After the first century, Hippocratic medicine competed with powerful beliefs in religious healers from Asclepius to Jesus. Yet the ascendance of Christianity, Temkin explains, did not diminish the stature of Hippocratic science. Hippocrates, after all, saw nature as a divine and orderly power that caused growth and supplied "health." Hippocratic doctors could easily exchange the cult of Asclepius for the worship of Christ. But they could not sacrifice their belief in nature as the basis of health, disease, and therapy without renouncing their science. In compromise, the Church accepted Hippocratic medicine with the proviso that the Christian physician shun all pagan or heretical interpretations of naturalism—he must not, for example, believenature to be divine, the soul a mere function of the brain, or himself the true savior of the sick.