Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 28–46 | Cite as

“For They Knew Not What It Was”: Rethinking the Tacit Narrative History of Religion and Health Research

  • Jeff LevinEmail author
Philosophical Exploration


Over the past couple of decades, research on religion and health has grown into a thriving field. Misperceptions about the history and scope of this field, however, continue to exist, especially among new investigators and commentators on this research. Contrary to the tacit narrative, published research and writing date to the nineteenth century, programmatic research to the 1950s, and NIH funding to 1990; elite medical journals have embraced this topic for over 100 years; study populations are religiously and sociodemographically diverse; and published findings are mostly positive, consistent with psychosocial theories of health and confirmed by comprehensive reviews and expert panels.


Religion Spirituality Health Healing Medicine 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Studies of ReligionBaylor UniversityWacoUSA

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