The supernatural causes of the epidemic in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. Theodoret and other Church Fathers


The purpose of the present study is to explain how Theodoret of Cyr and other Church Fathers explained the epidemic described in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. As the analysis of the source texts shows, they tried to find an answer to the question about the causes of the cataclysm and its nature. In their findings, they distanced themselves from medical issues, but tried to interpret the facts on the basis of theology. They were convinced that the epidemic was a consequence of sin, but not of an individual sin, which may be suggested by a cursory reading of the indicated passages of the Bible, but of sin in the social dimension. Ancient writers attribute the victims of the plague and its violence to the action of an angel, whose identification remains an open question. As they emphasize, God's mercy is revealed in the whole event, which limits the duration of the disease and stops the epidemic.


2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21; King David; census; plague; Church Fathers; epidemic; Theodoret of Cyrus; Augustine; Ambrose; John Chrysostom; Hraban Maurus

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Published : 2021-06-15

Nowaszczuk, J. (2021). The supernatural causes of the epidemic in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. Theodoret and other Church Fathers. Vox Patrum, 78, 311-332.

Jarosław Nowaszczuk