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March 23, 1940


JAMA. 1940;114(12):1106. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.62810120017049

The description of the plague of the Philistines in the book of Samuel is one of the most interesting in the Bible, as it presents the one report of transmission of an epidemic from one place to others and names a distinct pathologic sign. It is, however, very hard to define what the condition was, and scores of translations have been tried to explain with what kind of morbid condition the sufferers were smitten.

In a paper read at the fifteenth annual meeting of the American Association of the History of Medicine at Atlantic City in April 1939, Church1 brought interesting material to show the need of revising our idea of the Columbian origin of syphilis. He tried to prove not only by documentary evidence, as Sudhoff did in a series of publications, but by roentgenograms of mummies, that this theory is erroneous.

Referring to the constant confusion of