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After I posted a call for papers for a conference about the moon, John MacDonald left a comment drawing attention to a lunar connection with the New Testament: the Greek word used in Matthew 17:15: “σεληνιάζεται: epileptic/luna-tic; or, moonstruck.” John further wrote:
I did a little checking, and Dr. Larry Perkins cites J.M.Ross, “Epileptic or Moonstruck?” The Bible Translator 29 (1978), 126-128, saying Matthew’s use of the word seems to be the first literary occurrence in antiquity, and that it occurs only later in a treatise by the astrologer Vettius Valens who wrote in the second century A.D.
Term - Culture - Matthew - Ancients - Effect
This isn’t really helpful, though, since the term might have been common in oral culture and simply not written down until Matthew. Also, this isn’t really helpful in discerning how the ancients understood the effect of the moon on mental stability when combined with demon possession.
He also shared a link to and quote from an article in Scientific American about the results of research into the possibility of some lunar connection to epilepsy and other conditions. The conclusion is that there is no evidence of a connection or correlation. It seems to be a very old and very persistent urban legend. You can find the research results online in open access form.
Ancient - Understanding - Topic - Scholars - New
But returning to the ancient understanding, I wonder how much has been done on this topic by scholars of the New Testament and/or of ancient Greek science/medicine/magic. The article by Ross is one that I don’t have access to through my library. R. T. France’s commentary on The Gospel of Matthew has a footnote...
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