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Galen

At a Glance
Gospel
Genre:
(3/5) ***
Reliability of Dating:
(4/5) ****
Length of Text:
Greek
Original Language:
Ancient Translations:
Modern Translations:

Estimated Range of Dating: 175-190 A.D.

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Information on Galen

Galen was a famous physician of the second century.

Richard Walzer writes (Galen on Jews and Christians, pp. 9-10):

It is important that Galen [129 - c. 199] was intimately connected with the imperial court when Christian influence there was on the increase. He enjoyed the friendship of Marcus Aurelius, and was placed in charge of the health of the young Commodus while the emperor was away from Rome conducting the German war. . . But Galen, as is most probable, had in addition the opportunity of meeting individual Christians at court. . . It is, therefore, possible to connect his interest in Christian thought with the more favourable attitude to Christians which seems to have prevailed in Rome from a date shortly before AD 180.

Walzer mentions four references of Galen to Christianity.

De pulsuum differentiis, iii.3 (which was "finished some time between 176 and 192")

"One might more easily teach novelties to the followers of Moses and Christ than to the physicians and philosophers who cling fast to their schools."

Op. cit. ii. 4:

"...in order that one should not at the very beginning, as if one had come into the school of Moses and Christ, hear talk of undemonstrated laws, and that where it is least appropriate."

The following reference survives in Arabic quotation and was written before 192.

"If I had in mind people who taught their pupils in the same way as the followers of Moses and Christ teach theirs--for they order them to accept everything on faith--I should not have given you a definition."

This reference, from Galen's lost summary of Plato's Republic, is found in Arabic quotations.

"Most people are unable to follow any demonstrative argument consecutively; hence they need parables, and benefit from them...just as now we see the people called Christians drawing their faith from parables [and miracles], and yet sometimes acting in the same way [as those who philosophize]. For their contempt of death [and its sequel] is patent to us every day, and likewise their restraint in cohabitation..."

Walzer writes: "The most probable date for the publication of the summaries of Plato...is about AD 180. We are thus tempted to infer that Galen's interest in the Christians was later than his interest in the Jews; the latter he mentions already during his first stay in Rome, the former not before AD 176."

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Kirby, Peter. "Galen." Early Christian Writings. <http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/galen.html>.