“Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:14
The book of James was one of the earliest written parts of the New Testament. Although references to healing with oil are sparse (yet abound in the Gnostic Gospels), the anointing oil plays an enormous role in Old and New Testaments, as there are 90 references. A complete list can be found here:
Yet, anointing with oil for the purpose of healing is only mentioned one other time in the New Testament.
“And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” (Mark 6:13)
Paul prayed for the removal of a thorn (2Corinthians 12:7), gave a prescription to Timothy (1Timothy 5:23), kept the physician Luke close by (2Timothy 4:11). If the anointing oil had healing properties, why did Paul never use the oil nor refer to it even once?
Imagine yourself living at the time these events took place. A wonderful healing oil has been rediscovered by John the Baptist, and after John is killed, the Christian movement emerges. Suddenly, a Harry-J.-Anslinger-type appears and starts throwing all the leaders in prison and torturing them for more names.
The torturer’s name is Saul and he soon discovers he is dealing with a non-violent movement, something Rome is unfamiliar with. These people are easily rounded up and confess everything and have no weapons nor any desire to fight back except through words, and meekly accept whatever judgments are handed down.
But after most of the leaders are dead, Saul changes his name to Paul and becomes a Christian. Imagine Anslinger joining a jazz band and smoking reefer in public, and you might understand why I have difficulty accepting this conversion. He was, after all, the chief Inquisitioner for many years.
Same as it ever was.