Religious directives of health, sickness and death : Church teachings on how to be well, how to be ill, and how to die in early modern England
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In broad terms, this thesis is a study of what Protestant theologians in early modern England taught regarding the interdependence between physical health and spirituality. More precisely, it examines the specific and complex doctrines taught regarding health-related issues in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and evaluates the consistency of these messages over time. A component of the controversial Protestant-science hypothesis introduced in the early twentieth century is that advancements in science were driven by the Protestant ethic of needing to control nature and every aspect therein. This thesis challenges this notion. Within the context of health, sickness and death, the doctrine of providence evident in Protestant soteriology emphasised complete submission to God’s sovereign will. Rather, this overriding doctrine negated the need to assume any control. Moreover, this thesis affirms that the directives theologians delivered governing physical health remained consistent across this span, despite radical changes taking place in medicine during the same period. This consistency shows the stability and strength of this message. Each chapter offers a comprehensive analysis on what Protestant theologians taught regarding the health of the body as well as the soul. The inclusion of more than one hundred seventy sermons and religious treatises by as many as one hundred twenty different authors spanning more than two hundred years laid a fertile groundwork for this study. The result of this work provides an extensive survey of theological teachings from these religious writers over a large span of time.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2023-09-26
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 26th September 2023
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