Stay tuned for annotations and additional entries.

Abrams, Judith Z. Judaism and Disability: Portrayals in Ancient Texts from the Tanach through the Bavli. Gallaudet U P, 1998.

  • From abstract: Abrams “document[s] attitudes toward disabled people in the earliest centuries of this ancient culture. … …the archaic portrayals of mentally ill, mentally retarded, physically affected, deaf, blind, and other disabled people reflect the sharp contrast they presented compared to the unchanging Judaic ideal of the ‘perfect priest.’ All of these sources describe this perfection as embodied in a person who is male, free, unblemished, with da’at (cognition that can be communicated), preferably learned, and a priest. The failure to have da’at stigmatized disabled individuals, who were also compromised by the treatment they received from nondisabled people, who were directing and constraining. As the Judaic ideal transformed from the bodily perfection of the priest in the cult to intellectual prowess in the Diaspora, a parallel change of attitudes toward disabled persons gradually occurred. The reduced emphasis upon physical perfection as a prerequisite for a relationship with God eventually enabled the enfranchisement of some disabled people and other minorities.”

Ackerman, Susan. “The Blind, the Lame, and the Barren Shall Not Come into the House.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, edited by Candida R. Moss and Jeremy Schipper, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 29–45. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137001207_3.

Adams, Ellen, editor. Disability Studies and the Classical Body: The Forgotten Other. Routledge, 2021.

Avalos, Hector. “Disability Studies and Biblical Studies: Retrospectives and Prospects.” Interpretation, vol. 73, no. 4, 2019, pp. 343-354, DOI:10.1177/0020964319857604.

  • From abstract: “This essay provides an overview of some of the main developments and explores some directions for the future. The essay suggests that the primary challenge is integrating disability studies and health care into standard college introductions to the Bible.”

Avalos, Hector, et al., editors. This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies. Society for Biblical Literature, 2007.

Baden, Joel S. “The Nature of Barrenness in the Hebrew Bible.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, edited by Candida R. Moss and Jeremy Schipper, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 13–27. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137001207_2.

Baker, Patricia, and Sarah Francis. “Rational Capacity and Incomplete Adults: The Mentally Impaired in Classical Antiquity.” Disability Studies and the Classical Body, edited by Ellen Adams. Routledge, 2021.

  • From abstract: “By comparing the limited archaeological evidence of adults buried both with and in the manner of children with the philosophical works of Aristotle, we argue that those with mental impairments were perceived as childlike and held the status of children. In his discussions on the nature of children, Aristotle describes them as incomplete humans because they fall short of being fully formed adults capable of reasoning. Therefore, the category of mental disability did not have the medical definition we see today, but one based on ideas for capacities to reason.”

Beal, Richard H. “Disabilities from Head to Foot in Hittite Civilization,” Disability in Antiquity, ed. Christian Laes, Routledge, 2017, pp. 53 – 62. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-10.

Bell, Robert H. “Homer’s Humor: Laughter in the Iliad.” Humanitas, vol. 20, no. 1-2, 2007, pp. 96-117. DOI:10.5840/humanitas2007201/27.

Belser, Julia W. “Disability, Animality, and Enslavement in Rabbinic Narratives of Bodily Restoration and Resurrection.” Journal of Late Antiquity, vol. 8, no. 2, 2015, pp. 288-305, DOI:10.1353/jla.2015.0035.

  • From abstract: “While conventional ideas of disability reversal often figure healing as the curative power to restore an individual body to full function, I argue that rabbinic texts frame healing as an act of social transformation. The article analyzes the Palestinian midrash Genesis Rabbah 95:1, demonstrating that the text parallels the restoration of the disabled body with God’s eschatological healing of the animals, so that predators no longer hunt prey. When read alongside rabbinic narratives that link disability with social violence and enslavement, Genesis Rabbah 95:1 reveals a rabbinic conception of healing as an act of communal liberation. The midrash also voices a frequent rabbinic claim that God will resurrect the dead with their corporeal differences intact so that they can be recognized by their kin, only healing their bodies as a subsequent act. The narrative thus figures disability as a critical marker of individual identity, a constitutive sign of the self that allows for and occasions recognition. While the midrash ultimately asserts that God will erase disability from the resurrected flesh, the rabbinic imagination nonetheless preserves a place for physical and sensory difference in the afterlife.”

—. Rabbinic Tales of Destruction: Gender, Sex, and Disability in the Ruins of Jerusalem. Oxford U P, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190600471.001.0001.

  • From abstract: “Rabbinic Tales of Destruction examines early Jewish accounts of the Roman conquest of Jerusalem from the perspective of the wounded body and the scarred land. Amidst stories saturated with sexual violence, enslavement, forced prostitution, disability, and bodily risk, the book argues that rabbinic narrative wrestles with the brutal body costs of Roman imperial domination. … Focusing on the Babylonian Talmud’s longest account of the destruction of the Second Temple, the book reveals the distinctive sex and gender politics of Bavli Gittin. …Bavli Gittin does not explain catastrophe as divine chastisement. Instead of imagining God as the architect of Jewish suffering, it evokes God’s empathy with the subjugated Jewish body and forges a sharp critique of empire. Its critical discourse aims to pierce the power politics of Roman conquest, to protest the brutality of imperial dominance, and to make plain the scar that Roman violence leaves upon Jewish flesh.”

Bendersky, Gordon. “Tlatilco Sculptures, Diprosopus, and the Emergence of Medical Illustrations.” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, vol. 43, no. 4, 2000, pp. 477-501. DOI:10.1353/pbm.2000.0035.

  • Bendersky discusses the disabled or “monstrous” human figurines among those found in the ancient Mesoamerican village of Tlatilco and “suggests that these sculptures may be the earliest extant aggregate medical illustration” (from abstract).

Bond, Sarah E., and T. H. M. Gellar-Goad. “Foul and Fair Bodies, Minds, and Poetry in Roman Satire.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 238 – 248. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-25.

Bragg, Lois. Oedipus Boreais: The Aberrant Body in Old Icelandic Myth and Saga. Fairleigh Dickinson U P, 2004.

Brockliss, William. “Out of the Mix: (Dis)Ability, Intimacy, and the Homeric Poems.” The Classical World, vol. 113, no. 1, 2019, pp. 1-27, doi:10.1353/clw.2019.0075.

  • Abstract: “Disabled characters in the Homeric hymns and epics are associated with two key themes. They might possess special abilities (e.g., Hephaestus’ craftsmanship), but they are distanced from forms of physical intimacy associated with the verb μίσγομαι (“mingle”): erotic intimacy and the intimacy experienced by a warrior and his opponent on the battlefield. By contrast, the intimate encounters of nondisabled individuals play a central role in the plots of the Iliad and Odyssey.”

Carter, Warren. ““The Blind, Lame and Paralyzed” (John 5:3): John’s Gospel, Disability Studies, and Postcolonial Perspectives.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature. Palgrave Macmillan. DOI:10.1057/9781137001207_9.

Chen, Luying. “The Solitary Writer in Shi Tiesheng’s Fragments Written at the Hiatus of Illness.” Chinese Literature Today, vol. 6, no. 1, 2017, pp. 68-77, DOI:10.1080/21514399.2017.1319216.

Chew, Kristina. “Teaching Classics and/as Disability Advocacy.” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Culture, and Composition, vol. 15, no. 3, 2015, pp. 541-548. DOI:10.1215/15314200-2917153.

Christensen, Joel. “Beautiful Bodies, Beautiful Minds: Some Applications of Disability Studies to Homer.” The Classical World, vol. 114, no. 4, 2021, pp. 365-393, doi:10.1353/clw.2021.0020.

  • Abstract: “This paper applies theoretical frameworks from disability studies to the Homeric epics to explore how agency is communicated through the representation of heroic bodies. After exploring the exceptional ugliness of Thersites in respect to the poetics of beauty in the Iliad, I argue that the Odyssey adapts notions of a functional body to privilege mental ability over physical strength. Such an adaptation complements rather than negates Iliadic values. The Odyssey‘s emphasis on Odysseus’ marked and post-heroic body positions experience as a marker of agency re-positions bodily perfection as a symbol of perversity.”

Clark, Patricia A., and M. Lynn Rose. “Psychiatric Disability and the Galenic Medical Matrix”, pp. 45-72. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013. DOI:10.1163/9789004251250_004.

Claes, Martin, and Anthony Dupont. “Augustine’s Sermons and Disability.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 344 – 357. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-33.

Collins, Adela Yarbro. “Paul’s Disability: The Thorn in His Flesh.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, edited by Candida R. Moss and Jeremy Schipper, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 165–83. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137001207_11.

  • Collins examines selected interpretations across time of what Paul means by a thorn in his flesh.

Coloru, Omar. “Ancient Persia and Silent Disability.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 61 – 74. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287.

  • From abstract: “Given the nature of the evidence, it is easy to feel discouraged about the possibility of having a clear and definite picture of the condition of the disabled in the Persian world. Nevertheless, we can try to explore the issue by surveying the available documents and comparing and contrasting them with external evidence from the classical world.”

Crabbe, Kylie. “The Anti-Father and His Silent Sons: Disability, Healing, and Critique in the Acts of John.” The Harvard Theological Review, pp. 1-25, 2023. DOI:10.1017/S0017816023000391.

  • Abstract: “This article analyzes the second-century Acts of John 56–57, in which Antipatros seeks healing for his twin sons whom he claims he cannot support as he ages. I argue that this passage turns on a layered critique of Antipatros. First, the text censures medical commerce. Second, it uses his threat of murder, economic circumstances, and name to undermine Antipatros as both father and inquiring disciple. The episode thus leverages criticism of a character whose negative attitudes lead him to contemplate destruction of those with infirmities. However, it retains a mixed message: while the character of the apostle John comes to focus on the sons, the narrative silences them. Ultimately, the text emphasizes what the critique means for the flawed male, elite father, rather than the experience of the impaired sons. Such dynamics warrant close attention as we continue to expand our understanding of attitudes to disability in sources from antiquity.”

Das, Shilpa. “Disability in Ancient Indian Art and Aesthetic Theory: The Case of Bibhatsa and Bhayanaka Rasas.” The Routledge Companion to Art and Disability, edited by Keri Watson and Timothy W. Hiles, Routledge, 2022. DOI:10.4324/9781003009986-7.

  • From abstract: “This paper examines the inter-relatedness between the classical aesthetic theory in ancient Indian art (3900 BCE- 1000 CE) pertaining to emotional states or rasa-bhāva and representations of the disabled body in it. … This paper presents several examples of the ways in which people with disabilities are represented in the canon of ancient Indian art (sculpture) primarily through bibhatsa and sometimes through bhayānaka, as a deviation from the ‘perfect and beautiful’ normative body.”

David, Rosalie. “Egyptian Medicine and Disabilities: From Pharaonic to Greco-Roman Egypt.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 91 – 105. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-13.

  • From abstract: “The availability of palaeopathological as well as textual and iconographic evidence from Egypt provides an unequalled opportunity to study one ancient society’s perception and attitude towards deformity and disability.”

de Wet, Chris L. (2023). Fertility, Slavery, and Biblical Interpretation: John Chrysostom on the Story of Sarah and Hagar. Biblical Theology Bulletin53(4), 250-262. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461079231210847.

  • Abstract: “Fertility is a complex and contentious topic in biblical theology, touching upon social, cultural, and gender identity issues in the ancient world. It intersects with factors like gender, age, disability, and socio-economic status, notably in the context of slavery. Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar’s story, particularly Genesis 16, highlights the link between slavery and fertility. This study examines John Chrysostom’s interpretation of their narrative (ca. 349–407 CE) to explore these intersections. Chrysostom views fertility and infertility as social, moral, and theological concepts linked to divine intervention. He portrays Abraham as the ideal husband, Sarah as the ideal wife, and Hagar as a deviant slave woman. Theologically, he transforms slavery from a social status to an ontological state and criticizes Jewish identity. Chrysostom’s interpretation supports late antique slaveholding values, making infertility discourse a complex tool with intersectional dynamics in his biblical reception framework.”

Dilley, Paul. “Hagiography and ‘Mental Health’ in Late Antique Monasticism.” Disability, Medicine, and Healing Discourse in Early Christianity: New Conversations for Health Humanities, edited by Susan R. Holman, Chris L. de Wet, Jonathan L. Zecher. Routledge, 2024. DOI:10.4324/9781003080534-11.

Dillon, Matthew. “Legal (and Customary?) Approaches to the Disabled in Ancient Greece.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 183 – 197. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-20.

—. “Payments to the Disabled in Athens: Social Justice or Fear of Aristocratic Patronage?” Ancient Society, vol. 26, 1995, pp. 27–57.

Downer, Carol. “The Coptic and Ethiopic Traditions.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 373 – 391. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-35.

Draycott, Jane. Prosthetics and Assistive Technology in Ancient Greece and Rome. Cambridge U P, 2022.

  • From publisher’s description: “This is the first comprehensive study of prosthetics and assistive technology in classical antiquity, integrating literary, documentary, archaeological, and bioarchaeological evidence to provide as full a picture as possible of their importance for the lived experience of people with disabilities in classical antiquity. The volume is not only a work of disability history, but also one of medical, scientific, and technological history,… The chapters cover extremity prostheses, facial prostheses, prosthetic hair, the design, commission and manufacture of prostheses and assistive technology, and the role of care-givers in the lives of ancient people with impairments and disabilities.”

—, editor. Prostheses in Antiquity. Routledge, 2018, doi:10.4324/9781351232395.

  • From abstract: “Today, a prosthesis is an artificial device that replaces a missing body part, generally designed and assembled according to the individual’s appearance and functional needs with a view to being both as unobtrusive and as useful as possible. In classical antiquity, however, this was not necessarily the case. The ancient literary and documentary evidence for prostheses and prosthesis use is contradictory, and the bioarchaeological and archaeological evidence is enigmatic, but discretion and utility were not necessarily priorities. So, when, howand why did individuals utilise them?”

—. “Prostheses in Classical Antiquity: A Taxonomy.” Disability Studies and the Classical Body, Edited by Ellen Adams, Routledge, 2021.

  • From abstract: “In this chapter, I shall examine the discourses surrounding prostheses in classical antiquity in an attempt to determine the place that each type had in ancient culture and society, and the ways in which the type of prosthesis that an individual used could affect their life and lived experience, for better or for worse. I shall explore the extent to which an individual’s age, gender, status, or other significant factors about them had an impact upon not only the type of prosthesis they chose to use, but also the ways that they and their prostheses were viewed by their contemporaries. I shall propose that, although prostheses were not necessarily commonplace in classical antiquity, there was something of a recognised taxonomy.”

—. “Reconstructing the Lived Experience of Disability in Antiquity: A Case Study from Roman Egypt.” Greece & Rome, vol. 62, no. 2, 2015, pp. 189–205. DOI:10.1017/S0017383515000066.

Edwards, Martha L. “Deaf and Dumb in Ancient Greece.” The Disability Studies Reader. Routledge, 1997.

Efthymiadis, Stephanos. “The Disabled in the Byzantine Empire.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 404 – 418. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-37.

Felton, D. “Monstrosity Or Disability? Ancient Accounts of Accelerated Ageing.” Folklore, vol. 123, no. 3, 2012, pp. 355-361. DOI:10.1080/0015587X.2012.716581.

Ferrence, Susan C., and Gordon Bendersky. “Deformity in the ‘Boxing Boys’.” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, vol. 48, no. 1, 2005, pp. 105-123. DOI: 10.1353/pbm.2005.0008.

  • Abstract: “The late Bronze Age wall painting the Boxing Boys (c. 17th-16th century BCE) was excavated in the ancient town of Akrotiri on the Greek island of Thera. This article considers a medical interpretation for the spinal-pelvic anomaly in the anatomy of one of the boys. The artist has depicted a combination of structural anatomical adjustments diagnostic of spondylolisthesis, a forward slippage of one of the lumbar vertebrae. The accurate portrayal of the surface appearance of this condition suggests that the artist painted directly from a live subject. Thus, the Boxing Boys mural may be the earliest visual record of a sports-induced injury. Although the meaning of the wall paintings is unclear, the wild goats (agrimia) on the adjoining walls simulate swayback as a reflection of the boy’s torso deformity and share other features with the boxers, adding to the unifying characteristics of the room. The abnormal morphology appears to be the earliest achievement of transforming disease into aesthetic charm on a monumental scale.”

Fuad, Chelcent. “Priestly Disability and Centralization of the Cult in the Holiness Code.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, vol. 46, no. 3, 2022, pp. 291-305. DOI:10.1177/03090892211032245.

  • Abstract: “This article analyzes how the notion of priestly disability in Lev. 21.16–23 is used in the Holiness Code (H) to construct social identity, shape culture, and organize the society of ancient Israel based on the cultural model of disability. The present study finds that the laws concerning the disabled priests were used in H as a strategy for reconstructing and narrating a new social order, namely, the centralized cult. Although the disabled priests, in contrast to able-bodied priests, were marginalized insofar as they were banned from the most elite rites, they maintained a higher status in the cult compared to other groups in both the priestly and non-priestly communities. Thus, their unique priesthood status was affirmed regardless of their disability. Furthermore, by reinforcing the idea of the officiating priests as the normate image, H’s discourse on priestly disability centralized the authority in the cult of ancient Israel and granted power to the priests.”

Garland, Robert. “Disabilities in Tragedy and Comedy.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 170 – 182. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-19.

  • Abstract: “Both Greek tragedy and comedy have provided us with some memorable characters afflicted with disability, notably those who are blind, lame, and temporarily insane. Deafness rarely features. The playwrights we shall be drawing upon are Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes. There are no disabled characters in either the surviving plays of Aeschylus or Menander. My principal focus will be the depiction of the disabled in drama and the evidence that drama provides for the treatment of the disabled. Though we have to proceed cautiously when seeking to draw inferences about social attitudes from drama, its evidence is hardly less trustworthy than that which derives from any other genre or indeed artistic medium.”

Gevaert, Bert. “Perfect Roman Bodies: The Stoic View.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 229 – 237. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-24.

Gevaert, Bert, and Christian Laes. “What’s in a Monster? Pliny the Elder, Teratology and Bodily Disability”, pp. 211-230. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013. DOI:10.1163/9789004251250_010.

Goodey, C.F. and M. Lynn Rose. “Disability History and Greco-Roman Antiquity,” The Oxford Handbook of Disability History, edited by Michael Rembis, Catherine Kudlick, and Kim E. Nielsen. Oxford U P, 2018, DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190234959.013.3.

—. “Mental States, Bodily Dispositions and Table Manners: A Guide to Reading ‘Intellectual’ Disability from Homer to Late Antiquity”, 17-44. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013. DOI:10.1163/9789004251250_003.

  • From abstract: “This overview commences with Homeric writings, in which the intellectual complex located roughly in one’s torso, could go awry and wreak havoc, causing temporary or permanent disparity. Next, it shows that the conditions of parity and disparity were formed by flexible criteria, as seen clearly in Roman satire. It recognises that there is also the specific theme of people disabled by madness, and here is a concept of intellectual disability with connotations of permanence and identity. Discussions include historiographical and methodological issues of the intellectual disability, three early Greek root words, and Greek writings in the middle and late Roman empire.”

Gourevitch, Danielle. “The Handicapped Children in Rome: Current Studies and Perspectives.” Medicina Nei Secoli, vol. 18, no. 2, 2006, pp. 459-477.

  • Abstract: “Reading literary, medical and juridical texts, the author tries to understand what was the meaning of the handicap or monstrum in Roman times. She insists on the evolution of the concept and scrutinizes the case of emperor Claudius. For a real understanding of the problems, a cross-examination of texts, images and bones is necessary, she concludes.”

—. “Madness and Mad Patients According to Caelius Aurelianus.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 299 – 313. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-29.

Gourevitch, Danielle, and Gilles Demigneux. “Two Historical Case Histories of Acute Alcoholism in the Roman Empire”, pp. 73-87. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013. DOI:10.1163/9789004251250_005.

Gracer, Bonnie L. (2007) “What the Rabbis Heard,” Journal of Religion, Disability & Health, 10:3-4, 85-99, DOI: 10.1300/J095v10n03_07.

  • Abstract: “This article examines deafness in Jewish antiquity as expressed in the Mishnah, the foundation document of rabbinic Judaism. Ancient Greek and Roman attitudes towards disability and deafness are surveyed in order to establish the context within which the Mishnah was formulated, and to assess whether, and to what extent, Greco-Roman beliefs may have influenced the rabbis and Jewish law on matters pertaining to deafness. Particular focus is given to (a) infanticide and gratitude and two opposing responses to disability in antiquity; and (b) the common belief the hearing and speech are precursors to intelligence. The major findings of this article are that while the rabbis of the Mishnah did not adopt the Greco-Roman practice of infanticide in response to the birth of a child with a disability, they did incorporate beliefs about the connections between hearing, speech, and intelligence into Jewish law. This article surveys the Mishnah in order to elaborate on these points and discuss their implications for the participation of deaf people in Jewish life.”

Graham, Emma-Jayne. “Disparate Lives or Disparate Deaths? Post-Mortem Treatment of the Body and the Articulation of Difference”, pp. 249–274. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013. DOI:10.1163/9789004251250_012.

—. “Interactional Sensibilities: Bringing Ancient Disability Studies to its Archaeological Senses.” Disability Studies and the Classical Body: The Forgotten Other.  Edited by Ellen Adams, 2021.

—. “Mobility Impairment in the Sanctuaries of Early Roman Italy.” Disability in Antiquity, ed. Christian Laes. Routledge, 2016, pp. 248 – 266, DOI:10.4324/9781315625287.

  • From abstract: “…attempting to interpret past attitudes towards impairment with reference to ‘the anger of the gods’ … overlooks the key fact that every god could also heal, and as the example of Nicanor and his crutch reveals, people of the ancient Mediterranean might look to the divine world for assistance with their impaired bodies as much as they feared punishment for moral wrongdoings. Inscribed on one of four stele erected at the Asclepieion at Epidaurus in the 4th century bce the ‘miracle tale’ (iama) of Nicanor advertised the willingness of one of the great healing gods of the ancient world to intervene positively in the bodies of the diseased, injured and impaired. …its presence alongside nearly seventy similar stories of pilgrims who had received divine healing for pain, illness, injury, infertility and a variety of chronic physical conditions demonstrates the existence of powerful ideas concerning the ability of the divine to remove or minimize potentially disabling impairments…”

Graumann, Lutz Alexander. “Children’s accidents in the Roman empire: the medical eye on 500 years of mishaps in injured children,” Children and Everyday Life in the Roman and Late Antique World, eds. Christian Laes and Ville Vuolanto, Routledge, 2016. DOI:10.4324/9781315568942.

—. “Monstrous Births and Retrospective Diagnosis: The Case of Hermaphrodites in Antiquity”, pp. 181-209. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013. DOI:10.1163/9789004251250_009.

Groff, Elisa. “To Be, or Not to Be Sterile: that is a Question of Well-being in Byzantine Medical Discourse of the Sixth Century AD.” Disability, Medicine, and Healing Discourse in Early Christianity: New Conversations for Health Humanities, edited by Susan R. Holman, Chris L. de Wet, Jonathan L. Zecher. Routledge, 2024. DOI:10.4324/9781003080534-7.

Gulliver, Mike, and William J. Lyons. “Conceptualizing the Place of Deaf People in Ancient Israel: Suggestions from Deaf Space.” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 137, no. 3, 2018, pp. 537-553. DOI:10.15699/jbl.1373.2018.200601.

  • From abstract: “…this article considers the place of the deaf in ancient Israel. … Using the insights into the complexities of deaf experience put forward by the Rev. J. H. Pettingell, a nineteenth-century clergyman who worked with what were then termed the ‘deaf and dumb,’ this article explores the different potential scenarios for a male and a female deaf person. It then considers the potential life options for a priestly son deafened early or born deaf. The conclusion notes the possibility of communal Deaf spaces in ancient Israel and calls for an acceptance of one of the central methodological assumptions of deaf studies, that where a group of deaf people come together, a signing community is likely to come into existence.”

Hall, Edith. “The Immortal Forgotten Other Gang: Dwarf Cedalion, Lame Hephaestus, and Blind Orion.” Disability Studies and the Classical Body, edited by Ellen Adams. Routledge, 2021.

Harlow, Mary, and Ray Laurence. “Age, Agency and Disability: Suetonius and the Emperors of the First Century Ce.” Infirmity in Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Social and Cultural Approaches to Health, Weakness and Care. Edited By Christian Krötzl, Katariina Mustakallio, Jenni Kuuliala, pp. 29-42, Ashgate. 2016. DOI:10.4324/9781315588469-7.

  • From abstract: “This study of age and agency is played out with reference to the emperor Claudius, whose disability affected how he was treated by other members of the imperial family. We will argue that age caused emperors to become unable to act, and if too old to be at risk of being deposed. This is a quite different conception of disability than those previously published in the study of Antiquity.”

Harvey, Eric J. “Not Seeing, Unseeing, and Blind: Disentangling Disability from Adjacent Topoi in the Hebrew Bible.” Journal of Biblical Literature 1 September 2023; 142 (3): 363–383. doi: https://doi.org/10.15699/jbl.1423.2023.1.

  • Abstract: “Disability has often been conflated with adjacent and overlapping topoi in the reception and scholarship of the Hebrew Bible in ways that have compounded ableist tendencies in some texts and manufactured them outright in others. The point is demonstrated here through various meanings of the couplet “they have eyes but do not see; they have ears but do not hear,” which in context can convey several reasons why seeing and hearing do not happen: unwillingness to accept a message (Jer 5:21, Ezek 12:2) and inanimacy (Pss 115:5b–6a, 135:16b–17a) in addition to the disabilities of blindness and deafness (Isa 43:8). Disability plays no conceptual or rhetorical role in the first four passages, as Hebrew biblical texts generally avoid the pitfall of equating disability with rebelliousness or lifelessness. Isaiah 43:8 uses blindness and deafness as metaphors for the condition of the exiled Judeans, but a careful reading in the context of Second Isaiah reveals that they serve as metaphors for captivity, not obduracy or immorality. Appreciating these distinctions produces more historically plausible readings of the five passages and opens the way to less ableist interpretations of other disability texts in the Hebrew Bible.”

Henning, Meghan R. Hell Hath No Fury: Gender, Disability, and the Invention of Damned Bodies in Early Christian Literature. Yale U P, 2021.

  • From publisher’s description: “In this pioneering study, Meghan Henning illuminates how the bodies that populate hell in early Christian literature—largely those of women, enslaved persons, and individuals with disabilities—are punished after death in spaces that mirror real carceral spaces, effectually criminalizing those bodies on earth. Contextualizing the apocalypses alongside ancient medical texts, inscriptions, philosophy, and patristic writings, this book demonstrates the ways that Christian depictions of hell intensified and preserved ancient notions of gender and bodily normativity that continue to inform Christian identity.”

— “Holy Impairment: The Body as the Nexus of Apocalyptic Ekphrasis in Acts 2:1–13.” Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 141, no. 3, 2022, pp. 533-552. DOI:10.15699/jbl.1413.2022.7.

  • Abstract: “This article reads Acts 2:1–13 as an example of apocalyptic ekphrasis, bringing together disparate imagery for rhetorical effect. In particular, the Septuagint imagery of theophany is combined with the imagery of divine healing that was associated with the god Asclepius. I explore the imagery of the divided tongue that rests on bodies and transforms them, an element of Acts 2:3 that many interpreters have given up trying to explain. The visual association of snakes and healing was prevalent not only at the shrines devoted to Asclepius but broadly in a variety of contexts outside the shrines. This complex of imagery is evoked by the story in Acts 2, depicting the bodies of the apostles as the site of divine transformation, and as a sign of apocalyptic inbreaking. The transformation in this story, however, is one of a holy impairment, combining the imagery of extraordinary comprehension and impairment to describe the apostles’ different speech. In Acts 2, a scene unfolds in which the bodies of the apostles are transformed through a divine touch, receiving a holy impairment that enables human connection, not by erasing difference but by leveraging it as a symbol of apocalyptic transformation.”

—. “In Sickness and in Health: Ancient ‘rituals of Truth’ in the Greco-Roman World and 1 Peter.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature. , 2011. DOI:10.1057/9781137001207_12.

—. “Paralysis and Sexuality in Medical Literature and the Acts of Peter.” Journal of Late Antiquity, vol. 8, no. 2, 2015, pp. 306-321. DOI:10.1353/jla.2015.0018.

  • From abstract: “Research on the story of Peter’s daughter has primarily focused on its interpretation of the theme of chastity, or whether the story was originally included in the Acts of Peter. …scholars have taken for granted the curious assumption of the text that paralysis renders Peter’s daughter unfit for marriage, and thus safe from Ptolemy’s unwanted advances. This paper explores the underlying understandings of paralysis and sexuality that would have enabled ancient Christian audiences to make this leap from paralysis to sexual inviolability. …this work demonstrates that … for the ancient audience a paralyzed female body was incapable of bearing children, and an undesirable candidate for marriage. When read in light of these findings, Peter’s daughter is not only a model of early Christian chastity, but of early Christian story telling-using common cultural assumptions about disability to redefine normativity.”

Horn, Cornelia B. “A Nexus of Disability in Ancient Greek Miracle Stories: A Comparison of Accounts of Blindness from the Asklepieion in Epidauros and the Shrine of Thecla in Seleucia”, pp. 114-153. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013. DOI:10.1163/9789004251250_007.

Jones, Kirsty. (2023). An Unstable Presence in the House: Rethinking the Threat of Disability in 2 Sam 5:6–8 and the Mephibosheth Story. Biblical Theology Bulletin53(4), 227-237. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461079231210538.

  • Abstract: “In this article, I survey exegetical approaches to the ‘blind and lame,’ using disability studies and close readings to expose ableist bias. I also present my reading, in which I propose that the blind and lame are disabled persons whom David hates not just because of who they are, but also because of the fears they provoke. He is afraid. Disabled bodies can be unpredictable, untamable, and uncertain. David has no idea what his enemies are capable of, because ‘blind’ and ‘lame’ are vague and amorphous labels. Parading blind people and lame people on the ramparts does not display the weakest people in a strong city but displays people of unknown strengths.”

Junior, Nyasha, and Jeremy Schipper. “Disability Studies and the Bible.” New Meanings for Ancient Texts, 2013.

Karoglu, Kiki. “Madness in Classical Greek Art 1.” The Routledge Companion to Art and Disability, edited by Keri Watson and Timothy W. Hiles, Routledge, 2022.

Kellenberger, Edgar. “Mesopotamia and Israel.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2017.

  • Abstract: “As early as the end of the third millennium bce, Mesopotamian texts mention the topic of disability. There is a rich variety of excavated cuneiform documents demonstrating different perceptions of disabilities. These documents include myths, lexical lists, provision lists, medical and magic literature, omina (systematic collections of omens), curses (in inscriptions), prayers, royal inscriptions, letters, proverbs and wisdom literature. This wide spectrum is important for our understanding of disability. Less important are geographic and political differences (the city-states and proto-empires including Assyria in the upper part of Mesopotamia and Babylonia in the lower part competed for supremacy).”

Kelley, Nicole. “‘The Punishment of the Devil was Apparent in the Torment of the Human Body’: Epilepsy in Ancient Christianity.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, 2011. DOI:10.1057/9781137001207_13.

Kiefer, Thomas Joseph. “Reason and Normative Embodiment in Plato’s Republic: On the Philosophical Creation of Disability.” Disability Studies Quarterly, vol. 34, no. 1, 1, Jan. 2014. https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v34i1.3319.

  • Abstract: “This essay argues that the tendency to exclude individuals with disabilities from philosophical discourse is rooted in the attempt to apply rationally-derived principles to human embodiment.  To establish this thesis, this essay focuses on Plato’s Republic as one of the first, foundational philosophical texts to specifically argue that a city governed by reasonableness should actively kill individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities because such individuals embody injustice as the lack of order. This essay concludes that because philosophical discourse is predicated upon on rationality and rational principles, the exclusion of individuals with disabilities due to considerations of normative conceptions of embodiment will always remain an inherent possibility within human reasoning. However, historical and contemporary attempts to philosophically derive a normative conception of human embodiment will also necessarily fail to adequately address human embodiment insofar as such rationalized schemas exclude individuals and deny inevitable borderline cases to appear rationally coherent.”

Kuuliala, Jenni. “Infirmitas in Monastic Rules”. Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 358 – 372. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-34.

Laes, Christian, editor. A Cultural History of Disability in Antiquity. Bloomsbury, 2022.

—. Disabilities and the Disabled in the Roman World: A Social and Cultural History. Cambridge U P, 2018, doi:10.1017/9781316678480.

  • This book “explores the medical and material contexts for disability in the ancient world, and discusses the chances of survival for those who were born with a handicap. It covers the various sorts of disability: mental problems, blindness, deafness and deaf-muteness, speech impairment and mobility impairment, and includes discussions of famous instances of disability from the ancient world, such as the madness of Emperor Caligula, the stuttering of Emperor Claudius and the blindness of Homer” (from publisher’s description).

—, editor. Disability in Antiquity. Routledge, 2016, doi:10.4324/9781315625287.

—. “Dysfunctional and Pitied? Multiple Experiences of being ‘Disabled’ in Ostia Antica and Environs.”, 2021. Medicina nei Secoli: Arte e Scienza, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 199-216 .

  • Abstract: “This essay fits in the tradition of writing fictional life stories according to the bioarchaeology of personhood model, with much attention for objects, care and anthropological comparison. As a starting point, it takes recent excavations at Ostia and environs. Ever since the nineteenth century, both writers and historians have tried to come closer to the voices of the past by writing faction. This is, however, the first attempt to bring disabled persons from the Roman period to life. The essay tries to do do justice to the multifaceted experiences of disabled people, who were never categorized as such in the ancient world.”

—. “Handicap Dans l’Antiquité : L’aide De La Technologie, Des Animaux Et Des Hommes.” Nouvelles De l’Archéologie, vol. 165, no. 165, 2021, pp. 21-24. DOI:10.4000/nda.12673.

  • Abstract: “This paper looks at how instruments, animals or members of the household (slaves or family members) assisted in securing wellbeing and health for those facing the challenges of impairment. ‘Spontaneous’ yet hard to answer questions will be dealt with. Were wheelchairs, guide dogs, and ear trumpets in use in Antiquity? And how far did people identify with such aid, and recognised it as ‘being part of themselves’?”

—. “Introduction: Disabilities in the Ancient World – Past, Present and Future.” Disability in Antiquity. Edited by Christian Laes, pp.17 – 37, Routledge, 2017;2016, DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-7.

—. “Silent History? Speech Impairment in Roman Antiquity”, pp. 145-180. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013.

—. “Silent Witnesses: Deaf-Mutes in Graeco-Roman Antiquity.” The Classical World, vol. 104, no. 4, 2011, pp. 451-473, doi:10.1353/clw.2011.0092.

  • Abstract: “This article highlights all known instances of individual deaf-mutes in antiquity, with special attention as to how their symptoms were described, which effects were emphasized, and in what context the cases were reported. Next, the Greek and Latin vocabulary to denote deaf-muteness will be examined. Then comparative anthropology, literary sources, papyri, inscriptions, and juridic cases are used to describe daily life conditions of deaf-mutes. As a conclusion, I suggest that misconceptions about the anatomy of deaf-muteness, combined with the focus on rhetoric, might have had an impact on the lives of the deaf-mutes and the approach towards these people, at least in certain social environments.”

Laes, Christian, C.F. Goodey, and M. Lynn Rose. “Approaching Disabilities a Capite ad Calcem: Hidden Themes in Roman Antiquity,” pp. 1-15. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013.

Laes, Christian, et al., editors. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies, a Capite Ad Calcem. Brill, 2013.

Lawrence, Louise J. (2023). ‘Take Up Your Mat and Walk’: [Dis-] Abled Bodies of Communication and Early Christian Wandering. Biblical Theology Bulletin53(4), 263-271. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461079231210849.

Lemos, T. M. “‘Like the Eunuch Who Does Not Beget’: Gender, Mutilation, and Negotiated Status in the Ancient Near East.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, edited by Candida R. Moss and Jeremy Schipper, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 47–66. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137001207_4.

Lommel, Korneel V. “Heroes and Outcasts: Ambiguous Attitudes Towards Impaired and Disfigured Roman Veterans.” The Classical World, vol. 109, no. 1, 2015, pp. 91-117, doi:10.1353/clw.2015.0085.

  • Abstract: “This paper will focus on physically impaired and disfigured soldiers and their perception in Roman antiquity from the late Republic until the early Imperial era (third century bc until third century ad). Based on case studies from literary sources, this paper aims to explore the integration of impaired and disfigured veterans into Roman civil society. The first part outlines the ambiguous attitudes shown towards these veterans, who were both praised and ridiculed, and seeks explanations. The second part argues that few impairments and disfigurements precluded veterans from holding political or religious office.”

Lovell, Nancy C. “Tiptoeing through the Rest of His Life: A Functional Adaptation to a Leg Shortened by Femoral Neck Fracture.” International Journal of Paleopathology, vol. 13, 2016, pp. 91-95. DOI:10.1016/j.ijpp.2016.03.001.

Mahran, Heba, and Samar Mostafa Kamal. “Physical Disability in Old Kingdom Tomb Scenes.” Athens Journal of History, vol. 2, no. 3, July 2016, pp. 169–92. https://doi.org/10.30958/ajhis.2-3-2.

  • From abstract: “This article aims to be an analytical and a descriptive study of the representation modes related to physical disability in Old Kingdom tomb scenes, their different types of portrayal and interpretations. The paper would also discuss the functions of deformed individuals and specific roles in the Egyptian society based on examining a group of Old Kingdom tomb scenes.”

Martens, John W. “The Disability Within: Sexual Desire as Disability in Syriac Christianity.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 392 – 403. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-36.

Martin, Thomas R. “A Classicist’s Reflections on Greco-Roman Epidemiologies of Foreignness and Categorizations of Disability.” Divided Worlds? Challenges in Classics and New Testament Studies, edited by Caroline Johnson Hodge, Tat-siong Benny Liew, and Timothy A. Joseph. SBL Press, 2023.

Meeusen, Michiel. “Plutarch’s ‘Philosophy’ of Disability: Human After All.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 213 – 226. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-22.

  • From abstract: “Our aim is to document the multi-faceted notion of disability and its particular manifestations in the corpus Plutarcheum and to analyse its function and value in the various discourses of Plutarch’s Moralia and Vitae parallelae.”.

Melcher, Sarah J. “A Tale of Two Eunuchs: Isaiah 56:1–8 and Acts 8:26–40.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, edited by Candida R. Moss and Jeremy Schipper, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 117–28. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137001207_8.

—. (2012) “Blemish and Perfection of the Body in the Priestly Literature and Deuteronomy,” Journal of Religion, Disability & Health, 16:1, 1-15, DOI: 10.1080/15228967.2012.645593.

  • Abstract: “This article examines the interrelationship of blemish and perfection of the body in Priestly biblical literature and in Deuteronomy. In doing so, the discussion briefly addresses how declarations of impurity/uncleanness play a role in the establishment of status as well as touching upon the relationship of gender and impurity. In conclusion, the essay explores some issues of how to interpret biblical texts that construe disability in negative terms.”

Milburn, Olivia. “The Blind Instructing the Sighted: Representations of Music Master Kuang in Early Chinese Texts.” Monumenta Serica, vol. 66, no. 2, 2018, pp. 253-277. DOI:10.1080/02549948.2018.1534350.

  • From abstract: “This article examines representations of Music Master Kuang in early Chinese historical and philosophical texts. Music Master Kuang was entirely blind, at a time when people with disabilities suffered serious discrimination. However, in spite of his handicap, he was able not merely to become a fine musician, but also served as a key advisor to two rulers of Jin … and in some texts is said to have acted as their prime minister. In achieving this transition, he is unique among Music Masters of the period. This article … show[s] the way in which music was related to statecraft through the persona of an individual who was both a highly respected government minister and a noted performer on the qin.”

—. “Disability in Ancient China.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 122-34. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-15.

  • From abstract: “This chapter concerns the perceptions of disability and the treatment of those classified as disabled in ancient China.”

Miles, M. “India: Demystifying Disability in Antiquity.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 106 – 121. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-14.

—. “Segregated We Stand? The Mutilated Greeks’ Debate at Persepolis, 330 BC.” Disability & Society, vol. 18, no. 7, Dec. 2003, pp. 865–79. https://doi.org/10.1080/0968759032000127290.

  • From abstract: “As Alexander reached Persepolis in January 330 BC, he encountered a large group of newly released Greek captives who had been severely mutilated during Persian enslavement. Alexander agreed to aid their resettlement. The men debated whether to return to Greece with money in hand and disperse to their old families, who might be shocked by their appearance, or to stay as a mutually supportive group and receive benefits in Persia with their local partners. Detailed review is made of the historicity of this story… Evidence is presented of groupings of disabled people in Middle Eastern antiquity, the transmission of stories about Alexander, textual and linguistic analysis, social responses to severe disability, and truth or exaggeration of war atrocities or gross physical abuse from antiquity and modern times.”

Mitchell, Alexandre G. “Disparate Bodies in Ancient Artefacts: The Function of Caricature and Pathological Grotesques among Roman Terracotta Figurines”, pp. 275–297. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013. DOI:10.1163/9789004251250_013.

—. “The Hellenistic Turn in Bodily Representations: Venting Anxiety in Terracotta Figurine.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 198 – 212. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-21.

  • From abstract: “After a quick review of the various artistic movements that preceded the Hellenistic age, we will consider a selection of physical deformities represented in terracotta figurines and what the function of some of these objects may have been.”

Morris, Alexandra F. “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield: Tutankhamun and Disability.” Athens Journal of History, vol. 6, no. 1, Jan. 2020, pp. 53–72. https://doi.org/10.30958/ajhis.6-1-3.

  • From abstract: “This article explores how Tutankhamun’s tomb was perhaps modified to fit his needs as a disabled man, through an examination of the tomb layout, certain artifacts, botanical materials, artwork, and other grave goods. It also posits that disability need not be hyperbolized into an all or nothing proposition, and his injuries and death may have been caused by a confluence of events.”

—. “Patterns of Force: Receptions of Agesilaus II, Disability, and Greek Sexuality.” The Routledge Companion to the Reception of Ancient Greek and Roman Gender and Sexuality. Edited by K. R. Moore. Routledge, 2023. DOI:10.4324/9781003024378-13.

  • From abstract: “One of Sparta’s most distinguished military leaders and kings was Agesilaus II (c. 400 to 360 bce). While having an acquired physical impairment which he sustained in battle, Agesilaus II was also congenitally, physically disabled. This chapter will examine how ableism and disablism have influenced the interpretation and reception of Agesilaus II, and especially that of his sexuality as a disabled man. Instead of being ostracized and despised for his congenital physical disability, Agesilaus II seems to have been found both competent and attractive within the confines of Spartan and Greek society. It is, instead, modern scholarship which seems to have the difficulty with his disability and uses it to facilitate both ableist and disablist biases.”

Moss, Candida R. (2012) “Christly Possession and Weakened Bodies: Reconsideration of the Function of Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh (2 Cor. 12:7–10),” Journal of Religion, Disability & Health, 16:4, 319-333, DOI: 10.1080/15228967.2012.731987.

  • Abstract: “This article examines the function of the thorn in Paul’s flesh (2 Cor. 12:7–10) in light of ancient theories of medicine and demonic possession. It argues that Paul utilizes the ambiguous meaning of the “thorn” in conjunction with ancient medical theories of the body and notions of possession. Paul uses the physiology of his weakened body claim a direct connection to Christ and to trump the claims of his hypermasculine “strong” opponents.”

Moss, Candida R., and Jeremy Schipper, editors. Disability Studies and Biblical Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, doi:10.1057/9781137001207.

Newman, Sara. “Hephaestus Represented: A Mêtis-Based Inquiry.” Disability and Art History from Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century, edited by Millett-Gallant, Ann, and Elizabeth Howie, Routledge, 2022. DOI:10.4324/9781003048602-3.

  • Abstract: “My chapter examines ancient Greek representations of the god Hephaestus. Because of his injured leg, Hephaestus has been understood as an anomaly among the gods, the ugly, disabled one. My study recovers an alternative perspective on Hephaestus, which characterizes him as the god of mêtis, the archetype of heightened intelligence.”

—. “Valdivia Statuettes and Hybridity in the Americas of 3500–2500 BCE: An Indigenous Critical Disability Perspective.” The Routledge Companion to Art and Disability, edited by Keri Watson and Timothy W. Hiles, Routledge, 2022. DOI:10.4324/9781003009986-3.

  • From abstract: “This paper uses Critical Disability Theory (CDT) and Indigenous Methodologies (IM) to examine ancient Valdivian statuettes (3500-2500 BCE), the earliest known representations of human hybridity in the Americas. Many of these statuettes have male and female sexual organs, and/or multiple heads and torsos. …this hybridity has been interpreted as reflecting the culture’s shamanistic efforts to ward off deviant spirits. This perspective, however, imposes Western thinking onto an Indigenous culture. By applying CDT/IM to the study of the statuettes and situating them within an oral rather than written tradition, they can be read as reflecting a worldview that did not construct disability as deviant. As this chapter demonstrates, the Valdivia worldview saw humanity in terms of an embodied holistic community, and the statuettes participated in the conceptualization of disability, not as a mark of deviant forces, but as part of the wholeness and continuity which structures human life and interactions.”

Nogossek-Raithel, Lena. Dis/ability in the Markan Healing Narratives. De Gruyter, 2023.

Okuyama, Yoshiko. “Semiotics of Otherness in Japanese Mythology.” Disability Studies Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 1, 2017, https://dsq-sds.org/article/view/5380.

  • Abstract: “This article examines the tropes of ‘otherness’ embedded in Japanese myths and legends in which the protagonist has a physical or intellectual disability to uncover the sociohistorical attitudes toward such people in Japan. Using the theory of semiotics, I will explicate the narrative signifiers of ‘the Other’ represented in Japanese mythology; examine the binary perceptions of disability in ancient myths, medieval literature, and latter-day folklore in Japan; and demonstrate how perceptions have changed historically. I argue that some of these antique perceptions of the Other that have survived in contemporary Japanese consciousness may be hampering our effort to understand human variation.”

Olyan, Saul M. “The Ascription of Physical Disability as a Stigmatizing Strategy in Biblical Iconic Polemics.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, edited by Candida R. Moss and Jeremy Schipper, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 89–102. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137001207_6.

—. Disability in the Hebrew Bible: Interpreting Mental and Physical Differences. Cambridge U P, 2008;2009;, doi:10.1017/CBO9780511499036.

Parsons, Mikeal C. “His Feet and Ankles Were Made Strong: Signs of Character in the Man Lame from Birth.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, edited by Candida R. Moss and Jeremy Schipper, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 151–64. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137001207_10.

Penrose, Walter D. “The Discourse of Disability in Ancient Greece.” The Classical World, vol. 108, no. 4, 2015, pp. 499-523, doi:10.1353/clw.2015.0068.

  • Abstract: “Recent scholarship has been divided over the question of whether a categorization of the disabled existed in antiquity. Close readings of Lysias, Plutarch, and other ancient Greek authors strongly suggest that some Greeks did construct a social category of disability. The ἀδύνατοι were banned from military, political, and religious roles in Athens and elsewhere. The Spartans, on the other hand, chastised those who did not fight, even those with disabling impairments, while lauding those who ‘overcame’ their disabilities. Disability thus provides a new framework within which to gauge inter-Greek ethnic identity.”

Petridou, Georgia. “‘There Is a Pain – so Utter –’: Narrating Chronic Pain and Disability in Antiquity and Modernity.” Disability Studies and the Classical Body, Edited By Ellen Adams, Routledge, 2021.

Pudsey, April. “Disability and Infirmitas in the Ancient World: Demographic and Biological Facts in the Longue Durée,” Disability in Antiquity, ed. Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 38 – 50. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-8.

  • From abstract: “… it is hoped that this chapter will present, within the framework of environment, biology and culture, a background for the detailed case studies of cultural aspects of disability in Antiquity that follow.”

Ramantswana, Hulisani. (2023). Disability as a Symbol of Terror: Rereading the David Narrative in Light of Armed Conflicts in Africa. Biblical Theology Bulletin53(4), 238-249. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461079231210531.

  • Abstract: “Armed conflict situations are more than just sites of violence, destruction, scars, torture, rape, and death; they are also sites of disability production through direct causes and indirectly through disruption of societal services, which would otherwise prevent disabilities. In this paper, the David Narrative in 2 Samuel is reread as an armed conflict text centered on power, disempowerment, and control issues. In this rereading, the imagery of disability is viewed as a symbol of terror to instill fear and deter rebels and traitors.”

Raphael, Rebecca. “Whoring after Cripples: On the Intersection of Gender and Disability Imagery in Jeremiah.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, edited by Candida R. Moss and Jeremy Schipper, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 103–16. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137001207_7.

Rose, Martha Lynn. “Ability and Disability in Classical Athenian Oratory.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 155 – 169. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-18.

  • From abstract: “An Athenian court case from the late 5th century bce illustrates several points about the concept of people with physical disabilities in ancient Greek society. Lysias 24, On the Refusal of a Pension to the Invalid, as it is conventionally titled, highlights the differences between ‘disability’ in ancient society and modern, developed society. In order to summarize my findings on physical disability in Greece, I argued in The Staff of Oedipus: Transforming Disability in Ancient Greece that one must be aware of the dangers of misinterpreting the critical Greek term, ‘unable’ (adunatos) (Rose 2003). Here, I revisit my thoughts on the vocabulary of ability and disability in Lysias’ defence speech, this time with a deeper consideration of Lysias’ other speeches and those of his contemporaries, specifically orators of 5th-and 4th-century Athens.”

—. The Staff of Oedipus: Transforming Disability in Ancient Greece. U of Michigan P, 2003, doi:10.3998/mpub.17745.

—. “The Courage of Subordination: Women and Intellectual Disability in the Ancient Greek World.” The Routledge History of Disability, edited by Roy Hanes, Ivan Brown and Nancy E. Hansen, pp. 35-47. Routledge, 2018. DOI:10.1201/9781315198781-4.

  • Abstract: “This chapter argues that female physical disability had little to do with somatic configuration. A woman’s most important function was to produce sons, and the female who failed the task of serving as incubator was the one who lacked ability. The chapter shows that the criteria for intellectual impairment had specific ancient meaning and status that has little to do with modern definitions. The intellectual subordination of women in the ancient world was deeply ingrained in the socio-economic system. The ancient focus of the story is Epimetheus’s mistake of allowing a woman to harm the whole human race eternally; Pandora was the mere vehicle, crafted by clever gods, whose terrible female potential was unleashed. The idea of courageous subordination is not unique to ancient Greece. Comparing ancient and modern attitudes about taking a person with an intellectual disability as a spouse provides a small but interesting window through which to view change over time.”

Samama, Évelyne. “The Greek Vocabulary of Disabilities.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 137 – 154. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-17.

  • From abstract: “…the Greeks did not consider disabled persons as different, as long as they could, in one way or another, play a part in socio-economic life. It is interesting to notice that the Greek vocabulary echoes this situation. Obliterating the omnipresent picture of all the persons suffering from any disability, the terms are mostly vague in designating them… This can be explained as a logical consequence of their interwoven position inside the society, or of a lack of specific medical vocabulary. The fact that the words are quite numerous proves the widespread existence of disabled people, and it is worth examining what terms the Greek chose to qualify those suffering from any disablement. For this Hesychius of Alexandria, a Greek grammarian and lexicographer from the 5th century ce, is of considerable importance. In his Collection of All Words, he lists many words that are not found in surviving texts of the Greek literature…”

—. “A King Walking with Pain? On the Textual and Iconographical Images of Philip II and Other Wounded Kings”, pp. 231–248. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013. DOI:10.1163/9789004251250_011.

Silverblank, Hannah, and Marchella Ward. “Why does Classical Reception Need Disability Studies?” Classical Receptions Journal, vol. 12, no. 4, 2020, pp. 502-530, doi:10.1093/crj/claa009.

Sneed, Debby. “Disability and Infanticide in Ancient Greece.” Hesperia, vol. 90, no. 4, 2021, pp. 747-772, doi:10.2972/hesperia.90.4.0747.

  • Abstract: “This article confronts the widespread assumption that disability, in any broad and undefined sense, constituted valid grounds for infanticide in ancient Greece. When situated within their appropriate contexts, the oft-cited passages from Plutarch, Aristotle, and Plato contribute little to our understanding of the reality of ancient Greek practice in this regard. Other literary, material, and bioarchaeological evidence, however, demonstrates that ancient Greek parents, midwives, and physicians often took active and extraordinary measures to assist and accommodate infants born with a variety of congenital physical impairments. It was neither legally mandated nor typical in ancient Greece to kill or expose disabled infants, and uncritical (and unfounded) statements to the contrary are both dangerous and harmful.”

—. “The Architecture of Access: Ramps at Ancient Greek Healing Sanctuaries.” Antiquity, vol. 94, no. 376, 2020, pp. 1015-1029, doi:10.15184/aqy.2020.123.

  • Abstract: “Ancient Greece is well known for its many temples and sanctuaries, including several dedicated to healing and associated cults. Informed by disability studies, this article analyses the architecture of public spaces and facilities, alongside epigraphic, iconographic and literary evidence, to argue that the ancient Greeks sought to ensure the accessibility of healing sanctuaries. Even without a framework of civil rights as we understand them today, the builders of these sites made architectural choices that enabled individuals with impaired mobility to access these spaces. It is hoped that this research may stimulate further investigations into accessibility at other sites in the Classical world and beyond.”

Solevåg, Anna Rebecca. “Christ the Physician and his Deaf Followers: Medical Metaphors in the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch.” Disability, Medicine, and Healing Discourse in Early Christianity: New Conversations for Health Humanities, edited by Susan R. Holman, Chris L. de Wet, Jonathan L. Zecher. Routledge, 2024. DOI:10.4324/9781003080534-3.

—. “Gender and Disability in the Acts of Peter: Apostolic Power to Paralyze.” Ancient Christian Apocrypha: Marginalized Texts in Early Christianity, edited by Outi Lehtipuu and Silke Petersen, The Society of Biblical Literature, 2022, pp. 187–204. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv2rh2cqj.16.

  • From abstract: “In the Acts of Peter, there are several stories of apostolically inflicted paralysis. In this essay, I analyze how gender and disability intersect in these stories. The most well-known is probably the story of how Peter first heals, then unheals his own daughter.¹ I argue that in this story and the others I will present, Greco-Roman understandings of disability, sexuality, and gender intersect. The complexity of the characters’ interaction is, in my view, best understood by means of an intersectional hermeneutic.”

—. “Hysterical Women? Gender and Disability in Early Christian Narrative.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 331 – 343. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287.

—. “Listening for the Voices of Two Disabled Girls in Early Christian Literature,” pp. 287-299. Children and Everyday Life in the Roman and Late Antique World, edited by Christian Laes and Ville Vuolanto, 2016, doi:10.4324/9781315568942.

—. Negotiating the Disabled Body: Representations of Disability in Early Christian Texts, Society of Biblical Literature, 2018.

—. “No Nuts? no Problem!” Biblical Interpretation, vol. 24, no. 1, 2016, pp. 81-99, doi:10.1163/15685152-00241p06.

—. “Presenting the Issue: Reading Biblical Texts in Conversation with Disability Studies and Health Humanities.” Biblical Theology Bulletin53(4), 210-213. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461079231210527.

—. “Zacchaeus in the Gospel of Luke: Comic Figure, Sinner, and Included “Other”.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, vol. 14, no. 2, 2020, pp. 225-240, doi:10.3828/jlcds.2020.12.

Solevåg, A. R., & Kartzow, M. B. (2023). The Ideal Meal: Masculinity and Disability among Host and Guests in Luke. Biblical Theology Bulletin53(4), 272-282. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461079231210850.

Soon, Isaac T. A Disabled Apostle: Impairment and Disability in the Letters of Paul. Oxford UP, 2023.

  • From abstract: “This book is the first full-length study of Paul the Apostle and disability. Using insights from contemporary disability studies, Isaac Soon analyses features of Paul’s body in his ancient Mediterranean context to understand the ways in which his body was disabled. Focusing on three such ancient disabilities—demonization, circumcision, and short stature—this book draws on a rich variety of ancient evidence, from textual sources and epigraphy, to ancient visual culture, to analyze ancient bodily ideals and the negative cultural effects such ‘deviant’ persons generated. The book also examines Paul’s use of his own disabilities in his letters and shows how disability is not subsidiary to his thought but a central aspect of it. This book also provides scholars with a new method for uncovering previously unrecognized disabilities in the ancient world. Last of all, it critiques the latent ableism in much New Testament scholarship, which assumes that the figures of the early Jesus movement were able-bodied.”

Stewart, David Tabb. “Sexual Disabilities in the Hebrew Bible.” Disability Studies and Biblical Literature, edited by Candida R. Moss and Jeremy Schipper, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 67–87. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137001207_5.

Thumiger, Chiara. “Mental Disability? Galen on Mental Health.”Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 283 – 298. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-28.

Toohey, Peter. “Disability in the Roman Digest.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 314 – 328. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-30.

  • Abstract: “Not a great deal has been published concerning physical or mental disability in the Roman Digest. What has been tends to focus on mental disability. It is possible that the Digest contains more on the subject of disability, in the broadest of senses, than most ancient works, even the literary and the medical. I have, therefore, attempted to provide a sampling of some of what seem to me to be the more intriguing passages within the Digest on this subject. What emerges is a vivid picture of how the Roman legal system may have understood and adjudicated some of the societal problems relating to disability.”

Trentin, Lisa. “Deformity in the Roman Imperial Court.” Greece and Rome, vol. 58, no. 2, 2011, pp. 195-208, doi:10.1017/S0017383511000143.

—. “Exploring Visual Impairment in Ancient Rome”, pp. 89-114. Disabilities in Roman Antiquity: Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem. Brill, 2013. DOI:10.1163/9789004251250_006.

—. The Hunchback in Hellenistic and Roman Art. Bloomsbury, 2015, doi:10.5040/9781472555816.

—. “The ‘Other’ Romans: Deformed Bodies in the Visual Arts of Rome.” Disability in Antiquity, edited by Christian Laes, Routledge, 2016, pp. 249 – 263. DOI:10.4324/9781315625287-26.

  • From abstract: “There are conspicuously few representations of disability, and none of the severely disabled, in the entire repertoire of Roman art. Even the god Hephaestus/Vulcan, famously characterized in the literary tradition as lame … is never portrayed as overtly disabled in the visual tradition; his lameness, when represented, is always discreet … and his body is otherwise youthful and physically robust… Vulcan’s representation underscores a tension in the (literary and) visual record and in our examination here of disability: if one of the most famous characters in Antiquity is rarely depicted as physically impaired, then perhaps we should wonder whether disability, as understood today, works at all as an ancient category of identification?”

—. “What’s in a Hump? Re-Examining the Hunchback in the Villa-Albani-Torlonia.” The Cambridge Classical Journal, vol. 55, no. 55, 2009, pp. 130-156. DOI:10.1017/S1750270500000233.

Valentine, Katy E. “Reading the Slave Girl of Acts 16:16-18 in Light of Enslavement and Disability”. Biblical Interpretation 26.3 (2018): 352-368. DOI:10.1163/15685152-00263P04.

  • Abstract: “This article analyzes the story of the exorcism of the slave girl in Acts 16:16-18 in light of recent studies in the field of disability. I show that the ancient world considered spirit possession to be a disability, and the slave girl is doubly vulnerable as one both possessed and enslaved. Her oracular status, however, gave her a limited amount of authority in her context, which was erased in the exorcism by Paul. The loss of this disability then increased the risk for the slave girl by angering her masters. The slave girl is a “narrative prosthesis” in the text; the story is interested primarily in her disability, and once her disability is removed, she disappears from the text. The story of the slave girl offers us insights about the power of embracing disabilities as valuable identities and sources of authority.”

Van Lommel, Korneel. “Heroes and Outcasts: Ambiguous Attitudes Towards Impaired and Disfigured Roman Veterans.” The Classical World, vol. 109, no. 1, 2015, pp. 91–117. DOI:10.1353/clw.2015.0085.

—. “The Recognition of Roman Soldiers’ Mental Impairment.” Acta Classica, vol. 56, 2013, pp. 155–84.

—. “Stoicism and War Wounds: Mucius Scaevola, Sergius Silus and Quintus Sertorius.” Journal of Ancient History and Archaeology, vol. 6, no. 2, 2019, pp. 19-26. DOI:10.14795/j.v6i2.388.

—. “The Terminology of the Medical Discharge and an Identity Shift among the Roman Disabled Veterans.” Ancient History Bulletin, vol. 27, no. 1/2, Jan. 2013, pp. 65–74.

Ward, Marchella. “Queering Kinship against Genealogy: Crip Ancestorship, Chosen Families, Alternative Intimacies and Other Ways of Refusing the Classical Tradition.” The Routledge Handbook of Classics and Queer Theory, edited by Ella HaselswerdtSara H. Lindheimand Kirk Ormand, Routledge, 2023, pp. 257 – 272. DOI:10.4324/9781003184584-23.

Watts-Belser, Julia. “Disability Studies in Jewish Culture in Late Antiquity: Gender, Body, and Violence Amidst Empire.” A Companion to Late Ancient Jews and Judaism; Third Century BCE to Seventh Century CE. Wiley-Blackwell, 2020. DOI:10.1002/9781119113843.ch23.

  • From abstract: “In late antiquity as in late modernity, the Jewish body is a potent site for contesting and condensing notions of identity, difference, and deviance. … In this essay, I argue that disability studies offers a robust set of analytical tools that can help illuminate critical contours of late antique Jewish culture, probing key practices of power and constellations of meaning within rabbinic literature and theology.”

Yarza de los Ríos, Alexander. “Abya Yala’s Disability: Weaving with the Thread and Breath of the Ancestors.” Disability Studies Quarterly, vol. 41, no. 4, 2022. https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v41i4.8445.

Zucconi, Laura M. (2023). Reading Ancient Temples through the Lens of Disability Studies and Mobility Design. Biblical Theology Bulletin53(4), 214-226. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461079231210529.

  • From abstract: “Modern archaeological scholarship typically overlooks the experiences of people with disabilities…. …recent developments in the field have demonstrated the possibility of uncovering previously hidden aspects… related to disabilities at healing shrines. Nevertheless, excavations and material culture interpretations still often neglect the lived experiences of individuals with disabilities in antiquity. This article proposes a novel approach that integrates disability studies and mobility design into archaeology to shed light on the lives of the disabled. It applies these concepts to examine access to temples for people with disabilities in ancient Greece, Egypt, and Canaan/Israel, serving as a proof of concept to show that archaeologists can uncover insights into disability by understanding the theological underpinnings of religious site construction.”