New Book – A Disabled Apostle, Impairment and Disability in the Letters of Paul, by Isaac T. Soon, pub by Oxford University Press

  • Provides the first book of its kind—no one has analyzed Paul and disability with this much depth and breadth
  • Presents disabilities that have not been understood as disabilities before (circumcision, demonization), not least in relation to Paul
  • Offers scholarship relevant to contemporary issues about disability, accessibility, and ableism
  • Presents a significant new interpretation of Paul that will change the field
  • Suggests new ways of approaching the study of disability in ancient texts


Speculation around the health of Paul the Apostle has been present since soon after his death. Recently scholars have understood Paul to be disabled but have been wary of isolating precisely what his disabilities may have been or whether they are important for understanding his writings.

This book is the first full-length study of Paul the Apostle and disability. Using insights from contemporary disability studies, Isaac Soon analyses features of Paul’s body in his ancient Mediterranean context to understand the ways in which his body was disabled. Focusing on three such ancient disabilities—demonization, circumcision, and short stature—this book draws on a rich variety of ancient evidence, from textual sources and epigraphy, to ancient visual culture, to analyze ancient bodily ideals and the negative cultural effects such ‘deviant’ persons generated. The book also examines Paul’s use of his own disabilities in his letters and shows how disability is not subsidiary to his thought but a central aspect of it. This book also provides scholars with a new method for uncovering previously unrecognized disabilities in the ancient world. Last of all, it critiques the latent ableism in much New Testament scholarship, which assumes that the figures of the early Jesus movement were able-bodied.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Disorderly Figure
1:An Angel of Satan
2:The Demon Inside
3:Demons as Disability
4:God and the Disabling of Paul
5:A Bestial Glans
6:Circumcision as Disability
7:A Disabling Gospel
8:Pneumatic Circumcision
9:A Short Apostle
10:Short Stature as Disability
11:The Smallest of all Apostles
Epilogue: Recognising Unrecognised Disabilities

Author Information

Isaac T. Soon, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Crandall University

Since 2021, Isaac T. Soon has been Assistant Professor of Religious Studies (New Testament) at Crandall University. He has degrees from the University of Oxford and Durham University. He has published peer-reviewed journal articles in the Journal for the Study of the PseudepigraphaEarly Christianity, the Journal for the Jesus Movement in its Jewish SettingVigiliae ChristianaeNovum TestamentumReligions, the Journal of Biblical Literature, and the Journal for the Study of Judaism.


More info on the editor’s website

New book – The Care of the Brain in Early Christianity, by Jessica L. Wright, pub. by University of California Press

About the Book

New book – Death and Disease in the Medieval and Early Modern World, Perspectives from across the Mediterranean and Beyond, Edited by Lori Jones and Nükhet Varlık for Boydell & Breyer


This collection highlights and nuances some of the recent critical advances in scholarship on death and disease, across and beyond the pre-modern Mediterranean world, Christian, Islamic and Jewish healing traditions.

Across and beyond the pre-modern Mediterranean world, Christian, Islamic and Jewish healing traditions shared inherited medical paradigms containing similar healthy living precepts and attitudes toward body, illness and mortality. Yet, as the chapters collected here demonstrate, customs of diagnosing, explaining and coping with disease and death often diverged with respect to knowledge and practice.
Offering a variety of disciplinary approaches to a broad selection of material emerging from England to the Persian Gulf, the volume reaches across conventional disciplinary and historiographical boundaries. Plague diagnoses in pre-Black Death Arabic medical texts, rare, illustrated phlebotomy instructions for plague patients, and a Jewish plague tract utilising the Torah as medicine reflect critical re-examinations of primary sources long thought to have nothing new to offer. Novel re-interpretations of Giovanni Villani’s “New Chronicle”, canonisation inquests and saints’ lives offer fresh considerations of medieval constructions of epidemics, disabilities, and the interplay between secular and spiritual healing. Cross-disciplinary perspectives recast late medieval post-mortem diagnoses in Milan as a juridical – rather than strictly medical – practice, highlight the aural performativity of the Franciscan deathbed liturgy, explore the long evolution of lapidary treatments for paediatric and obstetric diseases and thrust us into the Ottoman polychromatic sensory world of disease and death. Finally, considerations of the contributions of modern science alongside historical primary sources generates important new ways to understand death and disease in the past. Overall, the contributions juxtapose and interlace similarities and differences in their local and historical contexts, while highlighting and nuancing some of the recent critical advances in scholarship on death and disease – two historiographical subfields long approached separately.


Intersections: Disease and Death, Medicine and Religion, Medieval and Early Modern


1 Knowing the Signs of Disease: Plague in the Arabic Medical Commentaries between the First and Second Pandemics

2 The Legal Foundations of Post-Mortem Diagnosis in Later Medieval Milan

3 Epidemic Illness in the Last Book of Giovanni Villani’s New Chronicle, 1345-1348: Warfare, Sin and the Heavens

4 Colours of Disease and Death in the Early Modern Ottoman Cultural Imagination


5 The Role of Music in a Franciscan Liturgy for the End of Life, as Evidenced in Manuscript Newberry 24

6 Medical and Spiritual Healing of Death and Disease in Medieval Miracle Stories

7 Infirmity and Death-Wishes in Medieval French and Italian Canonisation Processes

8 Bubo Men? Repurposing Medieval Anatomic Illustrations for Plague Therapy in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

9 Psalm 38 as Plague Diagnostic and Prophylactic in Abraham Yagel’s Moshi’ah Ḥosim (1587)

10 The Protection of Innocents: Red Coral as a Lapidary Cure for the ‘Children’s Disease’ and Conditions Related to Childbirth in Medieval and Early Modern England


11 Leprosy in Medieval Europe: An Immunological and Syndemic Approach

12 Past Plagues: On the Synergies of Genetic and Historical Interpretations of Infectious Disease



Lori Jones is a medical historian at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, Canada. Her research focuses primarily on plague texts and images.

Nükhet Varlık is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark. Her research focuses on disease, death, medicine and public health in the Ottoman Empire.

New book – “Un regard pour entendre, Sourds et surdité dans l’Occident du Bas Moyen-Âge (XIIIe-XVe siècles)”, by Thomas Rodot, pub. by l’Harmattan

La surdité au Moyen Âge est marquée par l’absence d’une étude d’ampleur, ce qui facilite la diffusion de stéréotypes dépeignant des sourds stigmatisés et des sociétés intolérantes. L’objectif de cet ouvrage est de répondre à cette carence, de déconstruire les visions fantasmées et de nourrir les réflexions sur un sujet encore méconnu. Quels sont les causes et les remèdes attribués à la surdité ? Comment les sourds sont-ils perçus et quels comportements sont entretenus à leur égard ? De quels droits bénéficient-ils et à quels interdits doivent-ils faire face ? Par l’étude des discours médicaux, religieux et juridiques, l’ouvrage explore les représentations et les réalités des sourds afin d’évaluer leur intégration dans les sociétés occidentales de la fin du Moyen Âge.

  • Date de publication : 24 août 2022
  • Broché – format : 15,5 x 24 cm • 242 pages
  • ISBN : 978-2-14-028450-2
  • EAN13 : 9782140284502
  • EAN PDF : 9782140284519
  • (Imprimé en France)

More information on the editor’s website

New book – Disease and Disability in Medieval and Early Modern Art and Literature, ed. by Rinaldo Fernando Canalis & Massimo Ciavolella, pub. by Brepols 


Humanity has always shown a keen interest in the pathological, ranging from a morbid fascination with ‘monsters’ and deformities to a genuine compassion for the ill and suffering. Medieval and early modern people were no exception, expressing their emotional response to disease in both literary works and, to a somewhat lesser extent, in the plastic arts. Consequently, it becomes necessary to ask what motivated writers and artists to choose an illness or a disability and its physical and social consequences as subjects of aesthetic or intellectual expression. Were these works the result of an intrusion in their intent to faithfully reproduce nature, or do they reflect an intentional contrast against the pre-modern portrayal of spiritual ideals and, later, through the influence of the classics, the rediscovered importance and beauty of the human body?

The essays contained in this volume address these questions, albeit not always directly but, rather, through an analysis of the societal reactions to the threats and challenges that essentially unopposed disease and physical impairment presented. They cover a wide range of responses, variable, of course, according to the period under scrutiny, its technological moment, and the usually fruitless attempts at treatment.



Introduction and Epidemiological Perspective

Rinaldo F. Canalis and Massimo Ciavolella


Part I. Medieval and Transitional Periods

The Art of Medicine in Byzantium: Disease and Disability in Byzantine Manuscripts

Alain Touwaide

Miracle and the Monstrous: Disability and Deviant Bodies in the Late Middle Ages

Jenni Kuuliala.

Leprosy, Melancholy, Folly and their Representations in French Medieval Literature

Gaia Gubini

Malady in Literary Texts from the Medieval and Early Modern Periods. Some Hypotheses on a Paradoxical Constellation

Joachim Küpper

Fevers, Botches and Carbuncles: Describing the Plague in Late Medieval and Early Modern Medical Treatises

Lori Jones


Part II. The Early Modern Period

The Role of Architecture and the Decorative Arts in Renaissance Medicine

Francis Wells

Art in Disease and Disease in Art: Reflections on Two Early Modern Paradigmatic Examples

Manuela Gallerani.

The Mal Franzoso: Between Art, History and Literature: Paracelso and Della Porta

Alfonso Paolella

The Ailing Artist

Roberto Fedi

Nicolas Poussin`s The Plague at Ashdod and the French Disease

Efrain Kristal

‘Yet have I in me something dangerous’: On the Interplay of Medicine and Maleficence in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Sara Frances Burdorff

Textures of Lesions – Textures of Prints

Domenico Bertoloni Meli



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