A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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anointing. ' Is anyone ill ? Let him summon the presbyters of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord ; the prayer of faith will restore the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up ; even the sins he has committed will be forgiven him. So confess your sins to one another, that you may be healed ; the prayers of the righteous have a powerful effect' (James v, 13-16). The whole of this passage is based on Jewish practice. Among the Jews the sick were advised to make their confession to the Rabbis, to whom the ' elders' mentioned by James corresponded. Oil was supposed to possess strong remedial properties, while it was used by the Greeks in magical rites and was also known to the Jews in this connection {Tract, Sabb. xiv, 3). In the passage before us the reference to oil may be the result of influence from either of these sources.
Looking back upon what we now know of the healing methods used by the apostles after Pentecost, we see that they introduced two innovations which are not found in the records of Jesus' work. First, they anointed the patient with oil; and second, they spoke in the Name of Jesus. The formula which Peter introduced formed the background of all future healing activities associated with exorcism within the Church, while James' injunction to anoint was the basis upon which was built the sacramental use of oil in holy unction. Before attempting to trace these developments, however, it will be as well to consider their relationship with Christo-therapy as investigated in the previous chapter.
Only one reference by Jesus to the use of oil has been preserved in the Gospels, and that was in His ingenious parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke x, 29-37). In rendering first aid to the victim the Good Samaritan used oil and wine, as was natural, seeing that both in