Many kinds of disease are mentioned in the Bible but it is difficult to identify them by their modern names. The incidence of disease and the means of cure were highly important in biblical times, and its causes were sometimes ascribed to God as punishment for sin—as when a plague hit the whole nation because of David's presumption in counting the population (2 Sam. 24). But such a view of God was modified by the later Chronicler (1 Chron. 21: 1; cf. 2 Sam. 24: 1) who attributes the whole episode indirectly to Satan. In the NT Satan and his creatures are said to be responsible (Mark 1: 25; Luke 13: 16, 32) for illness. The connection between sin and disease is questioned by Job (Job 2: 10) and by Jesus (John 9: 1–3).

The vast number of disfiguring and painful complaints, the cases of paralysis and mental illness, malformations of limbs and organs, and the inadequacies of medical care (Mark 5: 26) and diagnosis (1 Sam. 16: 15) all bear witness to the precariousness of existence as an essential part of the context of the biblical narratives.