The Bible and health

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The Bible has a number of beneficial health practices many of which were far ahead of their time.

Mosaic law and sound health practices

The prophet Moses authored the book of Leviticus

Max Neuberger, writing in his "History of Medicine" states concerning the Mosaic laws:

The commands concern prophylaxis and suppression of epidemics, suppression of venereal disease and prostitution, care of the skin, baths,[17] food, housing and clothing, regulation of labour, sexual life, discipline of the people, etc. Many of these commands, such as Sabbath rest, circumcision, laws concerning food (interdiction of blood and pork), measures concerning menstruating and lying-in women, and those suffering from gonorrhoea, isolation of lepers, and hygiene of the camp, are, in view of the conditions of the climate, surprisingly rational.[1]

Millennia before germ theory was proposed in the late 19th century, Leviticus 15 mandated hygiene laws that included bathing, washing of clothing, destruction of contaminated pottery and washing of hands.[1]

Although leprosy is not as contagious as other infectious diseases, and some forms of it (such as tuberculoid or paucibacillary form are not contagious), Leviticus 13 and 14 set forth rules to prevent epidemics of this disease among the people of Israel. Western science did not catch up until, in 1663, such laws were introduced in America in an attempt to curb an outbreak of smallpox.

The Biblical laws concerning menstruation, including the setting apart of the menstruating woman and the prohibition on intimacy during menstruation, address health concerns that were not known to secular science until the 20th century.[1] Also, modern science has only very recently discovered that following such rules dramatically reduces the rate of illegitimacy.[2]

Mosaic diet. Jesus Christ, the apostles and the Mediterranean diet

Christ And The Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann (1824–1911), 1889.

See also: Jesus Christ and the Mediterranean diet/Mosaic diet

In addition to the Mosaic diet, Jesus Christ ate a Mediterranean diet.[3]

The Mayo Clinic describes the Mediterranean diet thusly:

If you're looking for a heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet might be right for you. The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps even a glass of red wine — among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. While these parts of a healthy diet remain tried-and-true, subtle variations or differences in proportions of certain foods may make a difference in your risk of heart disease.

Benefits of the Mediterranean diet

Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases...

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:

  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)

The diet also recognizes the importance of being physically active, and enjoying meals with family and friends.[4]

In terms of physical activity, Jesus Christ worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty years old. Jesus had no electric power tools as carpenters do today, but worked with hand tools made of iron. Then for about three years, Jesus was an itinerant preacher.[5]

Mosaic diet is a healthy diet in terms of weight management

For a large segment of their lives, the apostles of Jesus not only ate a Mediterranean diet, but ate according to the Mosaic dietary laws. The Mosaic dietary laws are in accordance with a healthy lifestyle in terms of weight management as evidenced by the fact that one looks at the pictures of modern Orthodox Jews, most have a healthy body weight (See: Google image search of the term "Orthodox Jews").

Jesus and the Mediterranean diet

The Christian Chuck Norris wrote in his article entitled Chuck Norris asks, 'What would Jesus eat?':

In his excellent book “What Would Jesus Eat?” Dr. Don Colbert does a great job of explaining what the Master would have eaten and drank during his day.

Colbert told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “I thought I’d go back to the training manual – the Bible – and see what Jesus ate. Lo and behold, Jesus ate the healthiest diet ever developed, the Mediterranean diet.”[3]

Dr. David Macht, the Mosaic law and animal toxicity tests

Dr. David Macht

In 1953 Dr. David Macht, a Johns Hopkins researcher, conducted toxicity tests on many different kinds of animals and fish and concluded that the toxicity of Levitically "unclean" animals was higher than that of the "clean" animals, and that the correlation with the description in Leviticus was 100%.[6]

Macht's study in terms of classifying kosher and non-kosher animals matched the kosher classification performed by James W. Atz, Ph.D., Curator and Dean Bibliographer in the Department of Ichthyology of the American Museum of Natural History, NY, NY and Adjunct Professor of Biology, Graduate School of Arts and Science on New York University. Dr. Atz's list of kosher and non-kosher animals was published by the Orthodox Union in Kosher Guide and in the Orthodox Union Kosher Consumer Directory.[7] According to a list of kosher and non-kosher fish published by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, deciding what fish have scales, in the Orthodox Jewish community, appears to involve semantics as scales which are not visible to the human eye or scales that cannot be removed without tearing the skin are not considered "scales" in terms of the Torah law for determining which fish are kosher. It appears that Jewish religious authorities do appeal to well known Torah commentators.[8] Also, Dr. Macht's classification of swans as kosher is in accordance with the research done at Ohr Somayach Institutions in Jerusalem, Israel.[9]

Furthermore, Dr. Macht states in the peer reviewed journal Science that the toxicology test he used was a reliable method for detecting zoological toxins as it was a toxicology test sensitive to these type of toxins, and therefore one could conclude it was also suitable for testing the toxicity levels of fish, meat, and poultry.[10] (The toxicological method that Dr. Macht used was also cited in the Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine.[11]) In addition, Dr. Macht was an expert in cobra venom, which is a zoological toxin. Macht's conclusions, however, were challenged by three of his science community peers in a Seventh Day Adventist publication although one partially affirmed his study.[12] This was partly due to a likely unfamiliarity with what food is kosher and non-kosher. Also, perhaps they were unfamiliar with the toxicity test Dr. Macht used, and its apparent effectiveness in testing zoological toxins.

In the short term, eating non-kosher food often appears to have no dramatic ill effects in general. For example, the Arabs, who do not eat kosher, consider camel to be a delicacy. Clearly, non-kosher Arabs do not fall dead right after eating camel meat. However, the long term optimality of eating clean versus unclean meat is an unanswered question of science. Also, eating non-kosher foods clearly has some nutritional benefit. For example, shrimp and pork contain protein. The New Testament declares,

For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 1_Timothy 4:4-5 (NKJV)

In regard to the aforementioned verse, it could be argued that prayer does sanctify food. The Bible has plenty of verses regarding God's protection. Also, it could be argued that the benefits outweigh the costs in all foods and thus all food is good. Clearly there is some nutritional goodness in foods that the Torah declared unclean (for example, shrimp has protein). What foods are optimal from an empirically tested science viewpoint is often controversial. In short, in regard to eating strictly a kosher diet versus a non-kosher diet, science has no definitive answers at the present time. From a Christian theological point of view, it could be argued that food should not be an impediment to anyone making a decision to become a Christian. It should be noted that orthodox Christian believers in Biblical scientific foreknowledge believe that Christians can eat the food that was declared unclean in the Old Testament, and 1_Timothy 4:4-5 and Galations 2:7-16 make this very clear.

In addition to the aforementioned study testing kosher and non-kosher foods for toxicity levels, Macht developed evidence indicating that combining meat and milk tended to be more toxic than either foodstuff alone.[13] In addition, he compared conventional animal slaughtering versus kosher slaughtering and determined that kosher slaughtering produced less toxic meat.[13]

A 1985 study by Nanji and French found that there was a significant correlation between cirrhosis and pork consumption (Macht claimed that swine was more toxic than the animal meat the Bible called clean).[14] Modern pork production methods are different from ancient methods of raising pigs, so the result of this study might be hard to apply to the ancients or those who raise pigs by organic farming methods, without the use of hormones or antiobiotics.

Jane Cahill reported in Biblical Archaeological Review that the toilets of a Jewish household in Jerusalem were examined and no parasites or infectious agents were found.[15]

Sound advice in the New Testament concerning the power of forgiveness

Jesus Christ and Christendom have emphasized the important of forgiveness and in the last few decades mental health specialists have increasingly seen the importance of forgiveness to alleviate anger/depression/bitterness and other emotional problems within individuals.[16]

Modern medicine now realizes that obsessing with one's past is a big cause of psychiatric problems.[17] Jesus had the same insight 2000 years earlier: "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."[18]

Bible's prohibition of homosexuality

Given the many diseases associated with homosexuality, the biblical prohibition against homosexuality is quite arguably one of the many examples where the Bible exhibited knowledge that was ahead of its time.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Neuburger, Max. History of Medicine. Oxford University Press, 1910, Vol. I, p. 38.
  2. How Religion Promotes Confidence About Paternity
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chuck Norris asks, 'What would Jesus eat?': Discovers Christ ate 'healthiest diet ever developed' by Chuck Norris, Published: 03/29/2013 at 9:59 PM
  4. Mediterranean diet by Mayo Clinic
  5. One Solitary Life by Grahame Pockette
  6. Macht, David I., MD. "An Experimental Pharmacological Appreciation of Levitcus XI and Deuteronomy XIV." Bulletin of the History of Medicine 27(5):444-450, September–October, 1953. Accessed September 12, 2008.
  7. Atz, James W., contrib. "KASHRUT.COM - Kosher and Non-kosher fish" Scharf Associates, 2008. Accessed September 12, 2008.
  8. Goldberg, Chaim. "Consumers’ FAQ’s on Kosher fish." Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, 2004. Accessed September 12, 2008.
  9. "Ask the Rabbi - Are swans kosher?" Ohr Somayach Website,, October 24, 1998. Accessed September 12, 2008.
  10. Macht, D.I. , Science 1930, 71 :302
  11. Macht, D.I. and Macht, M.B. Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine 1941, 26: 597
  12. Harris, Lester E., Jr. "This Question of Unclean Meats." Ministry Magazine, March 1953, p37-38. Accessed September 12, 2008.
  13. 13.0 13.1 David I. Macht, Medical Leaves 1940; 3:174-184
  14. Nanji AA, and French SW. "Relationship between pork consumption and cirrhosis." Lancet 1985 Mar 23, 1(8430):681-3. Accessed September 12, 2008.
  15. It had to happen, Scientist Examines Ancient Bathrooms of Romans 586 B.C. by Jane Cahill and Peter Warnock. BAR May/June 1991
  16. Indian J Psychiatry. 2009 Apr-Jun; 51(2): 153–156. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.49459, PMCID: PMC2755173, Forgiveness: A note for psychiatrists by Prakash Gangdev
  18. Luke 9:62 (ESV).