A Comparative Analysis of Healing Reports in the NT and the Desert Fathers

God created a human being to be healed by the power of God when he/she may need supernatural healing. The Desert Fathers such as Antony, Pachomius, and John Cassian reported about healing by the power of God in their writings. On the contrary, Hippolyte Delehaye suspected the hagiographic documents in general due to the fictitious and legendary elements although he pointed out that the hagiographic documents from Africa—including the writings of those Desert Fathers—are very trustworthy. Unhappily, many anthropologists under his influence have doubted the trustworthiness of the writings of the Desert Fathers because of the prevalence of trope which tends to mimic the past events in the New Testament (NT).

However, this paper will examine selected accounts of healing reports by the Desert Fathers with similar accounts in the NT. Differences and similarities between the healing reports of the Desert Fathers and healings in the NT will be compared. My thesis is that the reports of the Desert Fathers are supernatural accounts by God rather than a mere mimicking of similar events found in the NT.

To accomplish this, I will utilize the methodology of Delehaye to examine the healing accounts of the Desert Fathers. First, three Desert Fathers—Antony, Pachomius, and John Cassian—will be included in the study as well as the healing accounts in the Gospels and Acts of the NT for analyzing the accounts. Second, these texts will be analyzed from the perspective of identifying the types of miracles reported and the phenomena surrounding the healings (methods, actions, and results). Lastly, I will compare the similarities and differences surrounding the healing stories among these sources. Non-healing miracles will not be included in the study. I may contribute to the understanding of healing in early Christianity through this study.

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