Elias Brasil de Sousa at Baldwin Memorial Lecture
By School of Religion - May 11, 2023

On April 15th the School of Religion of Loma Linda University held the Annual Dalton Baldwin Lectureship at the Damazo Amphitheater, in the Centennial Complex. The speaker of the 2023 event was Dr. Elias Brasil de Souza, Director of the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) of the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. The title of Brasil de Souza’s lecture was “Health and Healing in the Hebrew Bible: Implications for the Adventist Health Message.” Dr. Brasil de Souza is originally from Brazil and holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Theology from the Latin American Adventist Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Old Testament Theology from Andrews University.

Dr. Brasil de Souza’s lecture was divided into three main parts. First, he discussed the terminology of health and healing in the Old Testament. He noted that even though the concept of “health” is present throughout the Hebrew Bible, there is no Hebrew word to describe this condition. Several words in the OT describe the state of being healthy. One of them is the word shalom, often translated as “peace” but it carries the notion of completeness, a wholistic view of the person. Another term is tsedaqah, commonly rendered as “righteousness,” the idea of having a life properly ordained. “Holiness,” the Hebrew lexeme qadosh, also connotes the notion of health. As for the process of healing, he pointed out that God is the ultimate healer in the OT, but on many occasions He carried out healing by other means (Exod 15:22-25; Numbers 21:4-8).

The second part of Dr. Brasil de Souza’s lecture dealt with theological themes regarding health and healing in the OT. The creation story of Genesis 1-3 is foundational for a proper assessment of health and healing in the Hebrew Bible. In those chapters, the reader finds that humans were created in the image and likeness of God, a clear indication of their value in the Creator’s eyes. While their disobedience occasioned the entrance of sin, disease, and death into the world, the OT discloses God’ redemptive plan for humanity which involves healing and restoration.

The third part of Dr. Brasil de Souza’s lecture discussed the implications of the two previous sections for the Adventist message of health. He reminded the audience the value of humans in God’s eyes as exemplified in the life and ministry of Jesus – his teaching, preaching, and healing the sick (cf. Mt 4:23). Several passages in the OT connect healing and praise of God (e.g., Psa 6:4-5; Jer 17:14; etc.). Such an understanding of healing aligns well with the first angel’s message in Revelation 14:6-7, an fundamental part of the Adventist DNA: “Fear God and give Him glory.” By healing people for over a century, Loma Linda University Hospital is giving glory to God and the giver and restorer of life in response to the angelic imperative.

The School of Religion would like to thank the Baldwin family for their generosity in sponsoring the Dalton Baldwin lectureship for the 10th year.

Article by: Gustavo Assis