did christianity invent hospitals?

Christians instinctively responded to Jesus' healing imperative by engaging in the practice of medicine. Ferngren states emphatically that "the only care for the sick and dying during the epidemic of 312-13 was provided by the Christian churches". Since religious philanthropy does not belong exclusively to Christianity, a broader and more persuasive theory should be proposed to explain why the first hospital was established in the Christian world and not in the Buddhist or other religious world. In Europe, Spanish hospitals are particularly notable examples of Christian virtue expressed through the care of the sick, and were usually attached to a monastery in a chapel-room configuration, almost always erected in the form of a cross.

In the following decades, many such hospitals sprang up in the Christianised world, and then gradually spread everywhere. Hospices, initially built to house pilgrims and messengers between various bishops, became, under Christian control, hospitals in the modern sense of the word. In 1863, the Société Genevoise d'Utilité Publique asked Swiss Christian businessman Jean Henri Dunant to form a relief organisation to care for the war wounded. Compared to contemporary Christian institutions, which were relief services for the poor and sick provided by some monasteries, the Islamic hospital was a more elaborate institution with a wider range of functions.

Under the rule of Khusraw I, Greek Nestorian Christian philosophers, including the scholars of the Persian School of Edessa (Urfa) (also called the Academy of Athens), a Christian theological and medical university, were granted refuge. The declaration of Christianity as an accepted religion in the Roman Empire prompted an expansion of the provision of care. It was the most visible and concrete manifestation of Christian hospitality, which is why it eventually came to be called a hospital. By the beginning of the 5th century, the hospital was already ubiquitous throughout the Christian east of the Byzantine world, which was a drastic change from the pre-Christian period of the Roman Empire, when there were no civil hospitals.

The hospital was, in its origin and conception, a distinctly Christian institution, rooted in Christian concepts of charity and philanthropy. During the Golden Age of Islam, the Muslim world was clearly more advanced than its Christian counterpart, with magnificent hospitals in several countries.

Summer Mason
Summer Mason

Infuriatingly humble twitter fanatic. Professional pop culture lover. Professional twitteraholic. Infuriatingly humble bacon scholar. Typical tvaholic.

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