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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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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?Read more ›
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.
The world into which Christianity came easily tolerated abortion. A society which allowed infanticide could not be overly exercised by abortions! The satirist Juvenal noted that Rome's wealthy women rarely got pregnant because money allowed them to purchase abortions. Some women apparently wanted to maintain their trim appearance and sought to avoid the swollen stomach and limited activities pregnancy involves.
The Hippocratic Oath, of course, called physicians to "not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion," and some of the great "natural law" thinkers, such as Cicero, opposed it. Nero's tutor, the Stoic philosopher Seneca "lauded his own mother for not participating in unchastity, 'the greatest evil of our time,' and for never having 'crushed the hope of children that were being nurtured in [her] body'" (p. 28). Alone among ancient peoples, however, the Jews strongly condemned abortion. Though the Hebrew Bible does not clearly address it, by-and-large the Jews did not practice abortion. The only item at issue which divided the rabbis concerned the penalty necessary when "accidental or therapeutic abortion" occurred.
Early Christians sided with the pro-life Stoics and Jews. The New Testament does not specifically mention abortion, but second century documents, the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas directly denounce it. It is considered a form of murder, forbidden by the Law.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Although very much inclined to the conventional Christian belief about abortion -actually I find much of his interpretive arguments of certain passages in the Bible as... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jose Artiles-Gil
This book does a good and reasonably thorough examination of the views and practice of Abortion in the world of the Early Church. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Glenn Crouch
It is only occasionally that a professor reads a student's paper and think that it is so profound, so timely, so scholarly, and so well written that it demands publication. Read morePublished on February 10, 2012 by Bradley P. Hayton