Now, this is just silly. Last month a case report appeared in the Virology Journal (not, I'll admit, my normal read). It had the following title:
Influenza or not influenza: Analysis of a case of high fever that happened 2000 years ago in Biblical time
The original case was reported from two sources as follows
14 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick of a fever.
15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she arose, and ministered unto him.
29 And straightway, when they were come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
30 Now Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever; and straightway they tell him of her:
31 and he came and took her by the hand, and raised her up; and the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.
38 And he rose up from the synagogue, and entered into the house of Simon. And Simon's wife's mother was holden with a great fever; and they besought him for her.
39 And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she rose up and ministered unto them.
From this the authors deduce that the fever was influenza, despite the description not being as detailed as they would have liked:
Luke did not quantify the fever as the Fahrenheit temperature scale was not invented until 1724
Even God has his limits, eh?
The authors explain why they think this was influenza. They do consider a variety of other causes and reject them. Such as this
One final consideration that one might have is whether the illness was inflicted by a demon or devil. The Bible always tells if an illness is caused by a demon or devil (Matthew 9:18-25, 12:22, 9:32-33; Mark 1:23-26, 5:1-15, 9:17-29; Luke 4:33-35, 8:27-35, 9:38-43, 11:14) . The victims often had what sounded like a convulsion when the demon was cast out. In our index case, demonic influence is not stated, and the woman had no apparent convulsion or residual symptomatology.
This may surprise you, but I'm not 100% convinced. If Jesus had had access to mercury thermometer, and had told Luke the reading, I might have been more impressed. But for now I'm sceptical.
(ht: Cath Ennis)
Hon, K., Ng, P., & Leung, T. (2010). Influenza or not influenza: Analysis of a case of high fever that happened 2000 years ago in Biblical time Virology Journal, 7 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1743-422X-7-169