Original Research - Special Collection: Gender Justice and Health and Human Development

Christus medicus – Christus patiens: Healing as exorcism in context

Andries G. van Aarde
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 4 | a5798 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i4.5798 | © 2019 Andries G. van Aarde | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 August 2019 | Published: 14 November 2019

About the author(s)

Andries G. van Aarde, Research Focus Area: Gender Justice, Health, and Human Development, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa


The aim of this article is to argue that healing stories in the Jesus tradition should be understood as exorcisms, even if the concept of demonisation does not occur in the narrative. In the theistic and mythological context of the 1st-century Graeco-Roman religious and political world, external forces responsible for social imbalances pertain to the demonisation of body and spirit. Medical cure was also embedded in the same biopolitical setting. The article describes aspects of this biopolitics and the role of ancient physicians. However, Jesus’ revolutionary acts were not deeds of a medical doctor, but ought to be understood as the healing activity of a faith healer who empowered traumatised people by creating safe space for them within a quasi-fictive kinship network. The article concludes with an application of the dialectic notion ‘Christus medicus – Christus patiens’ in the life of the present-day network of Jesus-followers.


Jesus tradition; healing; exorcism; physicians in antiquity; imperialism; marginalisation; fictive family


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Crossref Citations

1. The purpose of the theological patterns in Jesus’ healing stories in the Gospel of Matthew
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