Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Thomas Heyne - Tertullian and Obstetrics

Tertullian of Carthage is the earliest known Christian author to show a significant knowledge of ancient obstetrics.  Despite scholarly assertions that Tertullian opposed medicine as unacceptable for Christians, it is clear that he consistently held physicians and medicine in high regard.  Of particular interest was the physician/obstetrician Soranus of Ephesus, who was—with Pliny the Elder—Tertullian’s main source of medical knowledge.  In fact, Tertullian is our sole source for reconstructing Soranus’ Περὶ Ψυχῆς, and his De Anima gives a remarkably detailed account of an abortion.  An analysis of Tertullian’s corpus suggests that Tertullian turned to Soranus’ work later in his career, and used it in several arguments against his various theological opponents.

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