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Abortion and the Early Church: Christian, Jewish and Pagan Attitudes in the Greco-Roman World Paperback – October 26, 1998


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Abortion and the Early Church: Christian, Jewish and Pagan Attitudes in the Greco-Roman World + When Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity + Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (October 26, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579101828
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579101824
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael J. Gorman is the Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary's Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where he has taught since 1991. He is a New Testament scholar who specializes especially in the letters, theology, and spirituality of the apostle Paul. His additional specialties are the gospel of John, the book of Revelation, theological and missional interpretation of Scripture, and early Christian ethics. In addition, he has a strong interest in the relationship between church and culture. From 1994 to 2012 he was Dean of the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary's.

He earned his B.A. degree summa cum laude in French from Gordon College in Massachusetts. He received the M.Div. and the Ph.D. cum laude in New Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, where he was also a teaching fellow in New Testament and an instructor in New Testament Greek. He has also been a visiting professor at Duke Divinity School, Wesley Theological Seminary, Mars Hill Graduate School, and Grand Seminare Notre Dame de l'Esperance in Cameroon.

He is the author of ten books and numerous articles on Biblical interpretation and on ethics. An avid traveler, he has also led several study trips to the cities of the apostles Paul and John in Greece and Turkey.

Michael Gorman was the 2005 recipient of The Fortress Press Award for Innovative Teaching in Graduate Schools and Seminaries, theological education's "teacher of the year" award. He also sits on several editorial councils and other professional committees. A United Methodist, he is an active layperson and a popular teacher at churches, institutions of higher education, and conferences representing many traditions.

Visit Michael Gorman's blog: www.michaeljgorman.net

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By C. Price VINE VOICE on September 25, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Though weighing in at a mere 101 pages of text, Abortion & the Early Church is an excellent overview on early Christianity's attitudes on that subject. Gorman examines the Pagan, Jewish, and Christian attitudes on abortion, spending more chapters breaking down Christian attitudes into the first three centuries and the fourth and fifth centuries. He then wraps up with two final paragraphs. One that rounds off the discussion of where Christian attitudes about abortion came from. Gorman concludes that Christian attitudes were heavily influenced by its Jewish history, but given Jesus' teachings on love and peace turned out to be more adamantly anti-abortion than the Jews. I suspect there is merit to this argument, but also think that much of Christianity's strong anti-abortion stance was due to its direct encounter with the pagan world. Even Jews in the diaspora tended to have their own communities and live amongst themselves. But many Christians were not only converted pagans, they were intent on spreading their own religion even deeper into Roman society. Such clashes tend to sharpen differences.

Up until this point, I benefitted from every part of the book -- even if I was not convinced on every point. Gorman does a good job of providing primary sources about pagan, Christian, and Jewish attitudes on abortion. He also does a good job of explaining those sources and spends much good analysis not only on what the attitudes on abortion were, but what the core of the issue really was. For example, was abortion criticized because it was an impediment to procreation, a means of covering up sexual immorality, a threat to the woman's life as well, or as the killing of a human life?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 14, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is well-researched and written examination of the early Christian church's position on abortion, contraception and taking of life.
His looking into this reveals that they were passionately against abortion and even had pagan and Jewish voices joining with them in this.
Citing early fathers the likes of Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, Chrysostom, Hippolytus and others who wrote and spoke articulately against abortion on grounds of the murder of innocent life, the sanctity of the marriage bed and the immorality and sin of this spreading taking of life.
I was frustrated with only one small part of this otherwise well done work, his final linking of abortion with nuclear arms and capital punishment. His writing as though the early church fathers were of this same mind is a matter that I honestly am not knowledgeable on, but will investigate. Suggest other readers understand a common theological problem with quoting the early church fathers, that of they wrote so much that most all sides of an issue find support in them. It is confusing.
Excellent gem of work that shows abortion is not a modern problem nor is the church's countercultural witness against it either. Valuable resource to the church.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By George on November 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Dr. Michael Gorman handles the question of the historic positions on abortion of major Greek philosophers (including Plato and Aristotle), Roman, Jewish, and early Christians in a very well documented text. The early Christian position stands in contrast to the others in it's overwhelming support of life at all stages. Toward the end of the book the author addresses the issue of a consistent ethic of life which elicits support for life in the context of human conflict, as well as for the unborn. Overall the book supports it's goal of presenting the issue of abortion in relation to the early church, providing many references, and a challenge for the future in addressing the issue of being pro-life in a consistent and comprehensive manner.
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