The  ISFNR Belief Narrative Network Online Lectures deal with folk beliefs of all kinds, and the narratives that are used to pass them on. The idea is that in the first week of each month, various international scholars present pre-recorded lectures on the subject of their choice which will later go on to be freely available on the ISFNR web site to anyone who wishes to make use of them as part of their research or in their teaching. The initial on-line showing is  nonetheless always followed by a half an hour live on-line zoom meeting in which those who attend will be able to ask the speaker questions. 

The lectures take place on the first Friday of each month at 17.00 Central European time, except during the summer months of July and August. 

Next lecture

Ildikó Csepregi

Non-medical disease causation: punishment and sin in Greek and early Christian illness narratives

June 02, 2023. at 5 p.m. CET

Speaker's Biography:

I am a historian of religion and a medievalist; after having studied Classics and medieval studies, I earned my PhD from the Central European University and the European Doctorate title from the Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice. For several years have been working on the transformation of Greek religious practices, esp. the practice of temple sleep (incubation) and published on various aspects of ritual healing and the formation of the Christian cult of the saints as well as pilgrimage sites. My research fields include: pilgrimages,  illness narratives, non-medical healing, miracle accounts, the hagiography of doctor saints, dreams and the formation of healing cults.


Maria Zambrano Research Fellow

Department of History, GEAAT, Grupo de Estudios de Arxeoloxia, Antiguidade e Territorio, University of Vigo, Spain 


In this lecture I would like to focus on some non-medical causes of illness. Wrongdoing, committing a ritual error, or being cursed or bound were well known features in ancient Greek illness interpretations and together with sin, they persisted in early Christian religious healing stories as well. I would like to highlight a few illness narratives where we have such descriptions with their clear attributions and consequences. They determine the sick persons’ attitude to their own illness, to their choice of healing method and healer. They also shed light on surrounding common beliefs regarding purity and pollution. I chose illness narratives that reflect a variegated attitude in attributing illnesses, at the intersecting traditions of Classical Greek and Biblical ideas with those of the emerging Christianity.