Friday, November 3, 2017

Healing Plants in the Bible

Several books have been written describing the plants mentioned in the Bible that are associated with rituals of hospitality and healing.  Mary’s Flower: Gardens, Legends and Meditations written by Vikncenzina Kyrmow with meditations by M. Jean Frisk and illustrations by A. Joseph Barrish, S.M.   Published by St. Anthony Messenger Press in 2002 this book describes the development of flower gardens that honor Mary of Nazareth along with various titles and legends about her.  

Healing Plants of the Bible: History, Lore and Meditations was written and illustrated by the same trio and published in the same year by the same press.  It describes the medicinal and healing properties of the plants mentioned in Scripture and mentions those that have been dedicated to or are symbolic of some aspect of the life of Mary of Nazareth. It does not describe their historic use by Jewish women in rituals of hospitality and healing. The main purpose of the book like the previous one is to assist one in planting or enjoying a garden dedicated to Mary as a spiritual exercise.  Both books provide references for locating exceptional gardens of this type.      

A beautifully illustrated meditation book called Bible Flowers published in 1997 uses 15th century manuscripts from Flanders and Burgundy to illustrate the flowers mentioned in Scripture. Each of the twenty-eight images are accompanied by a scripture quote presented as a visual and thought-provoking meditation.  It is a delightful devotional book with the intention of illuminating Scripture, primarily Hebrew Scripture.  

A fourth book Plants, Flowers and Herbs of the Bible written by W. E. Shewell-Cooper and published in 1977, provides a scientific taxonomy of plants that were in use in Israel and other parts of in the Middle East in the time of Jesus.  There are separate chapters on flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs, trees, grasses and grains and weeds.  The book delves into details of farming methods, pest control, manuring and irrigation.  It is most useful for confirming the botanical names and properties of plants identified in other sources, and learning about how they were grown.

For my purpose of discovering more about plants used by women involved in the ministry of hospitality and healing in the early church, the 1957 edition of All the Plants in the Bible by Winnifred Walker has been a most helpful resource.  Her taxonomy provides accurate botanical illustrations along with the English, botanical and Hebrew names for each of the plants and gives the Scripture quote in which they are mentioned.  The following illustrations come from this book.  The rest of the information is gathered from these five sources, the fourth edition of Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils and various online sources.