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Health

Retracted Study: Biblical Woman Had Flu, Not Demonic Possession

DiscoblogBy Joseph CalamiaAugust 13, 2010 1:05 AM

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Though it might work for The DaVinci Code, apparently citing the bible doesn't fly in a scientific journal. Virology Journal apologized yesterday for publishing a paper titled "Influenza or not influenza: Analysis of a case of high fever that happened 2000 years ago in Biblical time," which attempts to diagnosis "a woman with high fever cured by our Lord Jesus Christ." Yesterday, journal editor Robert F. Garry apologized for the paper's publication and announced that Virology will retract the piece. The blog Retraction Watch, where we found this story, posted a response from the paper's lead author, Ellis Hon:

"As an article for debate, there was no absolute right or wrong answer, and the article was only meant for thought provocation. Neither was it meant to be a debate on the concept of miracles. My only focus at the time of writing was 'what had caused the fever and debilitation' that was cured by Jesus."

The piece, which appeared in the journal's "Case Report" section, had a reference list including The Holy Bible (New King James Version) and the Fahrenheit temperature scale. The authors cite the cure's speed and the woman's quick recovery in making their diagnosis.

The Bible describes that when Jesus touched the woman, the fever retreated instantaneously. This implies that the disease was probably not a severe acute bacterial infection (such as septicemia) or subacute endocarditis that would not resolved instantaneously.

Playing it safe, the authors also note that other possibilities could include drug fever and poisoning, but demonic possession is definitely out:

One final consideration that one might have is whether the illness was inflicted by a demon or devil. The Bible always tells if an illness is caused by a demon or devil (Matthew 9:18-25, 12:22, 9:32-33; Mark 1:23-26, 5:1-15, 9:17-29; Luke 4:33-35, 8:27-35, 9:38-43, 11:14). The victims often had what sounded like a convulsion when the demon was cast out. In our index case, demonic influence is not stated, and the woman had no apparent convulsion or residual symptomatology.

Related content: Discoblog: Super-Size Me, Jesus: Last Suppers in Paintings Have Gotten Bigger Discoblog: What Kind of Peer-Review Would Jesus Want? Discoblog: The Science of Virgin Birth Discoblog: Man, Pronounced Dead, Spontaneously Comes Back to Life

Image: flickr / Dan Germain

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