Friday, March 23, 2012

Christian Era on Abortion - Biblically Speaking: Common Era, Anno Domini

Abortion, Biblically Speaking.
Appearance: appears in 2 translations out of 17.
Abortion  is descriptive, abortion is not prohibitive.
No culpability.

Sacerdotalism.  Where the people believe because a priest said so.
Vet the sacerdotes.

I.   Usage of "abortion" in the Bible. 

Did anyone care about abortion, and the decisions being made and by whom (herbs were part of Eden), or was the issue left alone, to be decided not by outsiders. We will also check to see "abort" tomorrow, but so far, we have looked up abortion.

II.  The Canon

III.  Doctrine - see its evolution at http://italyroadways.blogspot.com/#!/2012/02/salvation-or-marketing-religions.html.  The issue arises where the Biblical references are not there, as to culpability;  and sacerdotalism later puts it in

IV.  Conclusion -- The wisdom of the ages is to leave the issue alone.
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I.  Usage of "abortion" in the Bible

A. The word "abortion" is found nowhere in the King James Version. 
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B.  Follow the research
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We clicked on the word "abortion", see http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/translationResults.cfm?Criteria=abortion&t=KJV.  Nothing.  This is a site that offers, at a click, reference to another version of the Bible.
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Maybe the translation is wrong.  Try another. Click on the translations home page, and search another translation in the drop-down list. The abbreviations may be unfamiliar, so just start at the top:
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After the King James: where the word 'abortion' does not appear, we try others: Tomorrow we check each abbreviation.  This is the list from the site, as they give it:
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NKJV   Abortion does not appear. Next?
NLT      Nothing
NIV       Nothing
ESV       Nothing
RVR       Nothing
NASB    Ditto
RSV       Not there, either
ASV       Some of these we don't know, but it is not here, either
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YLT        We do know that: Young's Literal Translation, see also Hebrewoldestament.com.  It appears once:  Job 3:16 -- "Or as a hidden abortion I am not, -- As infants, they have not seen light.  See http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/translationResults.cfm?Criteria=abortion&t=YLT&sf=5
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DBY       Appears once, but this is a different one, not Job 3:16 (what is the Hebrew word in Job?). This one is in the New Testament DBY translation, I Corinthians 15:8:  "and last of all, as to an abortion, he appeared to me" -- what??  Are those two words, Job's from Hebrew, and Corinthians, from Greek, the same? Have to check.  Still, both uses are descriptive, not prohibitive.
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WEB        No occurrence.
HNV        No occurrence
VUL         That would be Jerome's Latin Vulgate. No occurrence. What? Yes. No occurrence in Jerome's Latin.
WLC        Hebrew.  This doesn't even compute.  It puts us back to the original search we did, the KJV.  Not even a word for "abortion" in Hebrew?
LXX Greek  Also no results here, they put us back to the KJV.  Not a word for it in LXX Greek?
mGNT Greek   Ditto
TR  Greek.  Ditto

C.  Tentative Conclusion

No Biblical interest at all in the process or circumstances of abortion.  Hands and theology off. 

So:  Two translations, theYoung's Literal and the DBY, each have one reference to abortion, out of (count them) 17 versions of the Bible. Two out of 17 = you do the math.  And none of them prohibitive, only descriptive of the sight of one -  hidden, have not seen light, no account.  Then Jesus appears to Paul -- is Paul the abortion, the what? Paul, the incomplete, is that it? Who knows. Theologians, start your engines.

II.  Canon.

Early writers after the death of Jesus did address it.  Romans had (someone get details) engaged in infanticide, on occasion, we understand;  Christian religionists had transplanted themselves from Israel over to Rome somehow, through Paul's networking (Gospel of Thomas notwithstanding) and an issue was whether Roman infanticide look the other way, get a free pass in Christianity, or would Christianity define itself otherwise?
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The Canon considered all this and closed. It considered writings regarding it among early Christians, see Early Christian Writings on Abortion, and rejected all of them.  
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Known but rejected as to the Canon were the opinions of Clement I, and a writing called the Apocalypse of Peter, see Abortion: Writings by Clement, and the Apocalypse of Peter.  


III.  Doctrines.
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These are the human elements that continue after the human element of deciding what is in the canon and what is not.  Doctrine decided what would be in, what would be out. Even after the canon, human doctrine continued to evolve.  See, again, http://italyroadways.blogspot.com/#!/2012/02/salvation-or-marketing-religions.html  
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Doctrine .is based in many cases on claims to divine guidance, but for many thinkers at the time and later, "divine inspiration" is the last persuasive recourse of the factless.

Look how "doctrine" uses abortion to enforce sexual hierarchies -- Paul himself was appeared to, he says, as an "abortion"-- yet look what Irenaeus says:
1. Woman as being as incomplete as an abortion. 

Irenaeus, see http://www.ntcanon.org/Irenaeus.shtml/

1.  Ensoulment.  This is when the soul enters the foetus (or zygote, etc.); some found it relevant when the foetus "quickened" or moved in the womb and could be felt doing it.  The problem here is that the same word, npsh, or nephesh, is used for the soul of all living creatures, the breathing who fly, swim, walk.


2.  Sanctity of human life, as opposed to other life forms, see How We Got Sanctity for Human Life

Jerome was fine with it.  Not that anyone wants it, but when the decision by the decider is to be made, even Jerome steps aside.  Suddenly, the church comes up with insights into the ones allegedly with divine guidance: 

In a letter to Aglasia  from St Jerome, Jerome wrote, "The seed gradually takes shape in the uterus, and it [abortion] does not count as killing until the individual elements have acquired their external appearance and their limbs."

For the next few centuries, the Aristotelian ensoulment theory moved in and out of papal fashion.
In the 13th century Pope Innocent III wrote a letter that ruled on the case of a Carthusian monk who had arranged for his lover to obtain an abortion. The Pope decided that the monk was not guilty of homicide if the foetus was not 'animated'.

Also that century, St Thomas Aquinas considered only the abortion of an 'animated' foetus as murder.

Then, in the 16th century, along came Pope Sixtus V who issued a papal bull in 1588 that threatened those who carried out abortions at any stage of gestation with excommunication and the death penalty.

Just three years later Pope Gregory XIV revoked the Papal bull and reinstated the 'quickening' test -- he said 'quickening' happened 116 days into pregnancy.

From the 17th century abortion became murder again. In 1869 Pope Pius IX reversed the stance of the Roman Catholic church once more.

He dropped the distinction between the 'foetus animatus' and 'foetus inanimatus' in 1869.

Canon law was revised to refer simply to the 'foetus' and the largely tolerant approach that had prevailed in the Catholic church for centuries ended.

Papal decrees in 1884 prohibited caraniotomies, an operation that killed the foetus by dismembering its skull in order to save the life of the pregnant woman.

In 1886, a second decree extended the prohibition on all operations that directly killed the foetus, even if done to save the woman's life.

All of the above is relevant to the current abortion referendum.

The Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill is what we will be asked to give constitutional protection to, and that bill determines -- in effect -- that human life begins after conception, that is, when the fertilised egg is implanted in the womb and not before.

The fertilised egg can be legally destroyed before that, a position that is contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The most recent statement on this from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith makes this absolutely clear.

In a document outlining the Church's position on procreation issues, the congregation states: "From the moment of conception, the life of every human being is to be respected in an absolute way because man is the only creature on earth that God has wished for himself and the spiritual soul is immediately created by God; his whole being bears the image of the Creator.

"Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end.

"God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can, in any circumstances, claim for himself the right to destroy directly an innocent human being... the human being must be respected -- as a person -- from the very instant of his existence."

It could hardly be more explicit. As I write, the Pro-Life Campaign appears to have decided to live with what amounts to a fundamental shift from its core belief, even though the implantation clause serves only to legalise the morning-after pill and IUDs, rather than heralding in an abortion regime.

However, other anti-abortion groups, fearing that once the slide from 'conception' begins, it might not stop there, might just decide to oppose the referendum.

IV.  Conclusion. 

Say the word "abortion" and the room polarizes. The New Testament is silent as to any moral issue related to abortion. The entity subject to the abort process is incomplete to begin with. Paul himself, in describing his state of inferiority, that he cannot be called an apostle because he did not know Jesus, uses the metaphor of being no better than an abortion, dead in the womb. Does it matter if a third force intentionally dislodged that occupant of the womb? The Bible makes no differentiation.


Old Testament. The Old Testament is silent as to any moral issue related to abortion. There are only references in the Old Testament to abortion as a description: of decay, of something worth nothing. There are no admonitions, no moral judgments as to any behavior regarding inducing it.
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Leave the issue alone. You made it to birth; was that a good idea?  If you think so, then incentivize in positive societal ways so that the mother will want to give birth to others but no force, no approbation.  Her decision.



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