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The controversy on religious male circumcision in early Christianity has played an important role in the history of Christianity and Christian theology.[1][2][3][4]

The circumcision of Jesus is celebrated as a feast day in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations, while the teachings of the Apostle Paul asserted that physical circumcision was unnecessary for the salvation of Gentiles and their membership in the New Covenant.[5][6][7][8][9][10] The first Council of Jerusalem (c. 50) declared that circumcision was not necessary for new Gentile converts[6][11][12] (a record of the council is found in Acts 15); Pauline Christianity was instrumental in the split of early Christianity and Judaism and eventually became the predominant position among Christians.[13][14] Covenant theology largely views the Christian sacrament of baptism as fulfilling the Israelite practice of circumcision, both being signs and seals of the covenant of grace.[15]

While circumcision is not observed by the majority of Christians in most parts of the Christian world and mainstream Christian denominations do not require circumcision,[16][17][18] it is still practiced among some Christian communities.[19][20][21][22] Despite the fact that Christianity does not require circumcision of its followers, some Oriental Christian denominations retained the practice of male circumcision,[23][20][16] and males are generally required to be circumcised shortly after birth as part of a rite of passage.[23]


Main articles: Brit milah and Religious male circumcision

See also: Covenant of the pieces

There are numerous references in the Hebrew Bible to the obligation for circumcision[24] and the uncircumcised are to be cut off from the people in Genesis 17:14.[25]

During the 1st century BC there was a controversy in Judaism relating to whether or not a proselyte who was already circumcised needed to be ritually re-circumcised. This is done via a pinprick creating a drop of blood and is still practiced to this day.

A similar controversy between the Shammaites and the Hillelites is given (Shab. 137a) regarding a proselyte born circumcised: the former demanding the spilling of a drop of blood of the covenant; the latter declaring it to be unnecessary. The rigorous Shammaite view, voiced in the Book of Jubilees (l.c.["in the place cited"]), prevailed in the time of King John Hyrcanus, who forced the Abrahamic rite upon the Idumeans, and in that of King Aristobulus, who made the Itureans undergo circumcision (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, xiii. 9, § 1; 11, § 3). According to Esther 8:17, Septuagint,[26] the Persians who, from fear of the Jews after Haman's defeat, "became Jews," were circumcised.[27]

1st and 2nd century AD Judaism

Jewish sources vary on whether or not circumcision of proselytes was a universal practice in tannaitic times.[28]

The issue between the Zealot and Liberal parties regarding the circumcision of proselytes remained an open one in tannaitic times[27]

The disagreement centers on the correctness of contradictory passages in the Babylonian Talmud and Jerusalem Talmud and which passage is older.[28] B. Yevamot 46a is summarized as follows:

Rabbi Joshua says that if a proselyte is immersed but not circumcised this is valid. Because our mothers were immersed but not circumcised. Rabbi Eliezer says the opposite. Because such was found regarding our fathers. However the sages say both are required.[28]

P. Kiddushin 3:12 (3:14, 64d) is summarized as follows:

Rabbi Eliezer says only circumcision is required the same as in B. Yevamot 46a. Rabbi Joshua says both are required.[28]

During tannaitic times uncircumcised semi-converts also existed, see God-fearer and Ger toshav.[28]

Circumcision of Jesus

Main article: Circumcision of Jesus

Circumcision of Jesus, sculpture in the Cathedral of Chartres

According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was circumcised eight days after his birth, in accordance with Mosaic Law.[29]

Mosaic Law in Early Christianity

Main articles: Law of Moses, Christian views on the Old Covenant, and Abrogation of Old Covenant laws

Similar differences and disputes existed within early Christianity, but disputes within Christianity extended also to the place of Mosaic Law or Old Covenant in general in Christianity. This is particularly notable in the mid-1st century, when the circumcision controversy came to the fore. Alister McGrath, an intellectual historian and proponent of paleo-orthodoxy, claims that many of the Jewish Christians were fully faithful religious Jews, only differing in their acceptance of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.[30] As such, they tended to be of the view that circumcision and other requirements of the Mosaic Law were required for salvation. Those in the Christian community who insisted that biblical law, including laws on circumcision, continued to apply to Christians were pejoratively labeled Judaizers by their opponents and criticized as being elitist and legalistic.[31]

Council of Jerusalem

Main article: Council of Jerusalem

See also: Jerusalem in Christianity and Early bishops of Jerusalem

James the Just, whose judgment was adopted in the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15:19–29, c. 78 AD: "we should write to them [Gentiles] to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood..." (NRSV)

Jerusalem was the first center of the Christian Church according to the Book of Acts,[11] The apostles lived and taught there for some time after Pentecost.[32] James the Just, brother of Jesus was leader of the early Christian community in Jerusalem, and his other kinsmen likely held leadership positions in the surrounding area after the destruction of the city until its rebuilding as Aelia Capitolina in c. 130 AD, when all Jews were banished from Jerusalem.[32]

In c. 48–50 AD, Barnabas and Paul went to Jerusalem to meet with the "Pillars of the Church":[11][33] James the Just, Peter, and John.[11][6] Later called the Council of Jerusalem, according to Pauline Christians, this meeting (among other things) confirmed the legitimacy of the Evangelizing mission of Barnabas and Paul to the Gentiles and the Gentile converts' freedom from most of the Mosaic Law,[6] especially from the circumcision of males,[6] a practice that was considered execrable and repulsive in the Greco-Roman world during the period of Hellenization of the Eastern Mediterranean,[34][35][36][37][38] and was especially adversed in Classical civilization both from ancient Greeks and Romans, which instead valued the foreskin positively.[34][35][37][36][39]

The primary issue which was addressed related to the requirement of circumcision, as the author of Acts relates, but other important matters arose as well, as the Apostolic Decree indicates.[6] The dispute was between those, such as the followers of the "Pillars of the Church", led by James, who believed, following his interpretation of the Great Commission, that the church must observe the Torah, i.e. the rules of traditional Judaism,[3] and Paul the Apostle, who called himself "Apostle to the Gentiles",[13] who believed there was no such necessity.[11][6][40][41] The main concern for the Apostle Paul, which he subsequently expressed in greater detail with his letters directed to the early Christian communities in Asia Minor, was the inclusion of Gentiles into God's New Covenant, sending the message that faith in Christ is sufficient for salvation.[6][40][41] (See also: Supersessionism, New Covenant, Antinomianism, Hellenistic Judaism, and Paul the Apostle and Judaism).

The decision of the Council did retain the prohibitions against eating meat containing blood, or meat of animals not properly slain, and against "fornication" and "idol worship".[42] The resulting Apostolic Decree in Acts 15 may simply parallel the seven Noahide laws found in the Old Testament, and thus be a commonality rather than a differential.[43][44][45] However, modern scholars dispute the connection between Acts 15 and the seven Noahide laws.[45] In roughly the same time period, rabbinic Jewish legal authorities made their circumcision requirement for Jewish boys even stricter.[46]

Teachings of Paul

Main articles: Apostolic Decree and Pauline epistles

Further information: Pauline Christianity and Paul the Apostle and Judaism

Artist depiction of Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, 16th century (Blaffer Foundation Collection, Houston, Texas). Most scholars think Paul actually dictated his letters to a secretary.[47]

While the issue was theoretically resolved, it continued to be a recurring issue among the early Christian communities. After the Council of Jerusalem, Paul wrote to the Galatians about the issue, which had become a serious controversy in their region.[5][7][9][10][12] There was a burgeoning movement of Judaizers in the area that advocated strict adherence to traditional Jewish laws and customs, including circumcision for male converts.[5][7][9][10][12] According to McGrath, Paul identified James the Just as the motivating force behind the movement. Paul considered it a great threat to his doctrine of salvation through faith and addressed the issue with great detail in Galatians 3.[12][48]

According to the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 15, the Jewish Christian leaders of the early Church at the Council of Jerusalem rejected circumcision as a requirement for Gentile converts,[11][12] possibly the first act of differentiation of Early Christianity from its Jewish roots[14] (See also: List of events in early Christianity). The rite of circumcision was especially execrable in Classical civilization[2][34][35][39][49][37][36] because it was the custom to spend an hour a day or so exercising nude in the gymnasium and in Roman baths, therefore Jewish men did not want to be seen in public deprived of their foreskins.[34][35][37][36] Hellenistic and Roman culture both found circumcision to be cruel and repulsive.[2][34][35][37]

Paul the Apostle, who called himself "Apostle to the Gentiles",[13][50] attacked the practice but not consistently; for example, in one case he personally circumcised Timothy "because of the Jews" that were in town (Timothy had a Jewish Christian mother but a Greek father Acts 16:1–3).[51] The 19th-century American Catholic priest and biblical scholar Florentine Bechtel SJ noted in the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Judaizers (1910):

Paul, on the other hand, not only did not object to the observance of the Mosaic Law, as long as it did not interfere with the liberty of the Gentiles, but he conformed to its prescriptions when occasion required (1 Corinthians 9:20). Thus he shortly after circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:1–16:3), and he was in the very act of observing the Mosaic ritual when he was arrested at Jerusalem (Acts 21:26).[52]

He also appeared to praise its value in Romans 3:1–2, hence the topic of Paul the Apostle and Judaism is still debated.

Rembrandt: The Apostle Paul, circa 1657 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

Paul argued that circumcision no longer meant the physical, but a spiritual practice[2][12][7][9][10][53] (Rom 2:25–29). And in that sense, he wrote 1 Cor 7:18: "Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised"—probably a reference to the practice of epispasm.[35][36][7][10][54] Paul was already circumcised ("on the eighth day", Phil 3:4–5) when he was "called". He added: "Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised", and went on to argue that circumcision did not matter:[12][7][9][10][53] "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts" (1 Cor 7:19).

Later he more explicitly denounced the practice,[5][8] rejecting and condemning those who promoted circumcision to Gentile Christians.[12][7][9][10][53] He accused those Judaizers who advocated circumcision of turning from the Spirit to the flesh.[12][7][9][10][53] In the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul warned Gentile Christians that the advocates of circumcision were "false brothers" (Gal 2:4),[5] and wrote: "Are you so foolish, that, whereas you began in the Spirit, you would now be made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal 3:3); he also wrote: "Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you" (Gal 5:2). He accused circumcision advocates of wanting to make a good showing in the flesh (Gal 6:12–13), and of glorying or boasting of the flesh (Gal 6:12–14).[12][7][53] Paul in his letters fiercely criticized the Judaizers that demanded circumcision for Gentile converts, and opposed them;[12][7][9][10][53] he stressed instead that faith in Christ constituted a New Covenant with God,[12][7][9][10] a covenant which essentially provides the justification and salvation for Gentiles from the harsh edicts of the Mosaic Law, a New Covenant that did not require circumcision[2][12][7][9][10][53] (see also Justification by faith, Pauline passages supporting antinomianism, Abrogation of Old Covenant laws).

Later views

See also: Primacy of Simon Peter

St. Peter holding the Keys of Heaven, by Rubens

According to Acts, Simon Peter condemned required circumcision of converts.[55] When the various passages from the New Testament regarding circumcision are gathered together, a strongly negative view of circumcision emerges, according to Michael Glass.[56] Some Biblical scholars think that the Epistle to Titus, generally attributed to Paul, but see Authorship of the Pauline epistles, may state that circumcision should be discouraged among Christians,[57] though others believe this is merely a reference to Jews. Circumcision was so closely associated with Jewish men that Jewish Christians were referred to as "those of the circumcision"[58][59] or conversely Christians who were circumcised were referred to as Jewish Christians or Judaizers. These terms (circumcised/uncircumcised) are generally interpreted to mean Jews and Greeks, who were predominate, however it is an oversimplification as 1st century Iudaea Province also had some Jews who were not circumcised, and some Greeks (called Proselytes or Judaizers) and others such as Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Arabs who were.

A common interpretation of the circumcision controversy of the New Testament was, that it was over the issue of whether Gentiles could enter the Church directly or ought to first convert to Judaism. However, the Halakha of Rabbinic Judaism was still under development at this time, as the Jewish Encyclopedia[60] notes: "Jesus, however, does not appear to have taken into account the fact that the Halakha was at this period just becoming crystallized, and that much variation existed as to its definite form; the disputes of the Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai were occurring about the time of his maturity." This controversy was fought largely between opposing groups of Christians who were themselves ethnically Jewish, see section Jewish background above. According to this interpretation, those who felt that conversion to Judaism was a prerequisite for Church membership were eventually condemned by Paul as "Judaizing teachers".

The source of this interpretation is unknown; however, it appears related to Supersessionism or Hyperdispensationalism (see also New Perspective on Paul). In addition, modern Christians, such as Ethiopian Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox still practice circumcision while not considering it a part of conversion to Judaism, nor do they consider themselves to be Jews or Jewish Christians.

The Jewish Encyclopedia article on Gentile: Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah[61] notes the following reconciliation:

R. Emden, in a remarkable apology for Christianity contained in his appendix to "Seder 'Olam" (pp. 32b-34b, Hamburg, 1752), gives it as his opinion that the original intention of Jesus, and especially of Paul, was to convert only the Gentiles to the seven moral laws of Noah and to let the Jews follow the Mosaic law—which explains the apparent contradictions in the New Testament regarding the laws of Moses and the Sabbath.

Contemporary practices

Main article: Religion and circumcision § Christianity

Coptic Children wearing traditional circumcision costumes

Today, many Christian denominations are neutral about male circumcision, not requiring it for religious observance, but neither forbidding it for medical or cultural reasons.[62][63] Covenant theology largely views the Christian sacrament of baptism as fulfilling the Israelite practice of circumcision, both being signs and seals of the covenant of grace.[15][64]

Since the Council of Florence, the Roman Catholic Church forbade the practice of circumcision among Christians; Roman Catholic scholars, including John J. Dietzen, David Lang, and Edwin F. Healy, argue that "elective male infant circumcision not only violates the proper application of the time-honored principle of totality, but even fits the ethical definition of mutilation, which is gravely sinful."[65][66] Roman Catholicism generally is silent today with respect to its permissibility, though elective circumcision continues to be debated amongst theologians.[67]

Ethiopian Orthodox Children wearing traditional circumcision costumes

The practice, on the other hand, is customary among the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, and also some other African churches,[23][68] and males are generally required to be circumcised shortly after birth as part of a rite of passage.[23] The Ethiopian Orthodox Church calls for circumcision, with near-universal prevalence among Orthodox men in Ethiopia. Eritrean Orthodox practice circumcision as a rite of passage, and they circumcise their sons "anywhere from the first week of life to the first few year".[69] Male circumcision is also widely practiced among Christian communities in Africa, certain Anglosphere countries, Oceania, South Korea, the Philippines and the Middle East.[17][21] While Christian communities in Europe and South America have low circumcision rates.[17] The United States and the Philippines are the largest majority Christian countries in the world to extensively practice circumcision.[70][23] Some Christian churches in South Africa oppose circumcision,[citation needed] viewing it as a pagan ritual, while others, including the Nomiya church in Kenya,[68][71] require circumcision for membership, despite St. Paul's warnings against those who required circumcision for salvation, in his epistle to the church of Galatia.[72][73]

The Greek Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church do not advocate circumcision among their adherents, but celebrate the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on 1 January,[74][75] while Orthodox churches following the Julian calendar celebrate it on Gregorian 14 January. The Orthodox Church considers it one of the twelve "Great Feasts". In the Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican churches, the commemoration of the circumcision of Christ has been replaced by other commemorations, such as the Feast of the Holy Name in the Lutheran Churches and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in the Catholic Church.[76][77]

Even though mainstream Christian denominations do not require the practice and maintain a neutral position on it,[78] it is practiced in certain Christian countries and communities,[19][70][20][79] while it is not observed in other Christian countries and communities.[17] Both religious and non-religious circumcision is common in some predominantly Christian countries such as the United States,[80] but outside of the Jewish and Muslim communities, not for reasons of religious observance; see circumcision controversies. It may be significant that Jewish applicants to American medical schools comprised 60% of all applications in the 1930s, at a time when circumcision was becoming popular in the US.[81] The prevalence of circumcision in the United States is approximately 80%.[82] According to studies, American Evangelicals and Mormons have the highest rates of infant male circumcision among Christian denominations in the United States.[83] According to Scholar Heather L. Armstrong of University of Southampton, about half of Christian males worldwide are circumcised, with most of them being located in Africa, Anglosphere countries (with notable prevalence in the United States) and the Philippines.[84] Many Christians have been circumcised for reasons such as family preferences, medical or cultural reasons.[84] Circumcision is also part of a traditional practice among the adherents of certain Oriental Christian denominations, including those of Coptic Christianity, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church.[84] Circumcision is common among Christians in the Philippines,[85][86] South Korea,[87] and Australia.[88][89] Circumcision is near universal in the Christian countries of Oceania,[90] and among the Christians of Africa,[22][91] being common among Christians in countries such as the Cameroon,[89] Democratic Republic of the Congo,[89] Ethiopia,[89] Eritrea,[89] Ghana,[89] Liberia,[89] Nigeria,[89] and Kenya,[89] and is also widely practiced among Christians from Egypt,[92] Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, and North Africa.[21][93][94] Circumcision is less common among the Christians of Canada, Europe and Latin America.[17][18] It is practiced amongst some Christians in the Indian subcontinent.[95]

See also


  1. ^ Stendahl, Krister (July 1963). "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West" (PDF). Harvard Theological Review. 56 (3). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Harvard Divinity School: 199–215. doi:10.1017/S0017816000024779. ISSN 1475-4517. JSTOR 1508631. LCCN 09003793. OCLC 803348474. S2CID 170331485. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 December 2021. Retrieved 12 February 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e Adams, Gregory; Adams, Kristina (2012). "Circumcision in the Early Christian Church: The Controversy That Shaped a Continent". In Bolnick, David A.; Koyle, Martin; Yosha, Assaf (eds.). Surgical Guide to Circumcision. London: Springer-Verlag. pp. 291–298. doi:10.1007/978-1-4471-2858-8_26. ISBN 978-1-4471-2857-1.
  3. ^ Jacobs, Andrew (2012). Christ Circumcised: A Study in Early Christian History and Difference. United States: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 9780812206517.
  4. ^ Bolnick, David; Koyle, Martin; Yosha, Assaf (2012). "Circumcision in the Early Christian Church: The Controversy That Shaped a Continent". Surgical Guide to Circumcision. United Kingdom: Springer. pp. 290–298. ISBN 9781447128588. In summary, circumcision has played a surprisingly important role in Western history. The circumcision debate forged a Gentile identity to the early Christian church which allowed it to survive the Jewish Diaspora and become the dominant religion of Western Europe. Circumcision continued to have a major cultural presence throughout Christendom even after the practice had all but vanished.... the circumcision of Jesus... celebrated as a religious holiday... [has been] examined by many of the greatest scholars and artists of the Western tradition.
  5. ^ a b c d e Dunn, James D. G. (Autumn 1993). Reinhartz, Adele (ed.). "Echoes of Intra-Jewish Polemic in Paul's Letter to the Galatians". Journal of Biblical Literature. 112 (3). Society of Biblical Literature: 459–477. doi:10.2307/3267745. ISSN 0021-9231. JSTOR 3267745.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Cross, F. L.; Livingstone, E. A., eds. (2005). "Paul the Apostle". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd Revised ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1243–45. doi:10.1093/acref/9780192802903.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Dunn, James D. G., ed. (2007). "'Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, but...'". The New Perspective on Paul: Collected Essays. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament. Vol. 185. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. pp. 314–330. ISBN 978-3-16-149518-2.
  8. ^ a b Thiessen, Matthew (September 2014). Breytenbach, Cilliers; Thom, Johan (eds.). "Paul's Argument against Gentile Circumcision in Romans 2:17-29". Novum Testamentum. 56 (4). Leiden: Brill Publishers: 373–391. doi:10.1163/15685365-12341488. eISSN 1568-5365. ISSN 0048-1009. JSTOR 24735868.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Thiessen, Matthew (2016). "Gentile Sons and Seed of Abraham". Paul and the Gentile Problem. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 105–115. ISBN 978-0-19-027175-6.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bisschops, Ralph (January 2017). "Metaphor in Religious Transformation: 'Circumcision of the Heart' in Paul of Tarsus" (PDF). In Chilton, Paul; Kopytowska, Monika (eds.). Language, Religion and the Human Mind. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 1–30. doi:10.1093/oso/9780190636647.003.0012. ISBN 978-0-19-063664-7. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Bokenkotter, Thomas (2004). A Concise History of the Catholic Church (Revised and expanded ed.). Doubleday. pp. 19–21. ISBN 0-385-50584-1.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Acts 15:1–2, 15:6–10; Galatians 1:15–16, 2:7–9, Galatians 5:2–3, 5:6–12, 6:12–15; Philippians 3:2–3; 1 Corinthians 7:17–21; Romans 2:17–29, 3:9–28, 5:1–11, Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11; Titus 1:10–16.
  13. ^ a b c Black, C. Clifton; Smith, D. Moody; Spivey, Robert A., eds. (2019) [1969]. "Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles". Anatomy of the New Testament (8th ed.). Minneapolis: Fortress Press. pp. 187–226. doi:10.2307/j.ctvcb5b9q.17. ISBN 978-1-5064-5711-6. OCLC 1082543536. S2CID 242771713.
  14. ^ a b Jewish Encyclopedia: Baptism: "According to rabbinical teachings, which dominated even during the existence of the Temple (Pes. viii. 8), Baptism, next to circumcision and sacrifice, was an absolutely necessary condition to be fulfilled by a proselyte to Judaism (Yeb. 46b, 47b; Ker. 9a; 'Ab. Zarah 57a; Shab. 135a; Yer. Kid. iii. 14, 64d). Circumcision, however, was much more important, and, like baptism, was called a "seal" (Schlatter, "Die Kirche Jerusalems," 1898, p. 70). But as circumcision was discarded by Christianity, and the sacrifices had ceased, Baptism remained the sole condition for initiation into religious life. The next ceremony, adopted shortly after the others, was the imposition of hands, which, it is known, was the usage of the Jews at the ordination of a rabbi. Anointing with oil, which at first also accompanied the act of Baptism, and was analogous to the anointment of priests among the Jews, was not a necessary condition."
  15. ^ a b Clark, R. Scott (17 September 2012). "Baptism and Circumcision According to Colossians 2:11–12". The Heidelblog. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  16. ^ a b Pitts-Taylor, Victoria (2008). Cultural Encyclopedia of the Body [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 394. ISBN 9781567206913. For most part, Christianity does not require circumcision of its followers. Yet, some Orthodox and African Christian groups do require circumcision. These circumcisions take place at any point between birth and puberty.
  17. ^ a b c d e Meyer, Barbara U. (12 March 2020). Jesus the Jew in Christian Memory: Theological and Philosophical Explorations. Cambridge University Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-108-49889-0. In his cultural accounts of circumcision, Boyarin clearly presupposes an alienated attitude to circumcision in Western countries. They show that the Christian memory of Jesus' circumcision is significantly weaker than the growing awareness of his Jewishness. In contemporary political debates – as in Canada or in North-European countries and especially in Germany – circumcision is typically described as an "archaic" rite, with those practicing it presented as forced to do so by some "ancient" law or custom.
  18. ^ a b Levine, Alan J. (2000). Captivity, Flight, and Survival in World War II. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-275-96955-4. In the last resort, even Jewish men otherwise well equipped to pretend to be Christians could be spotted, since circumcision was rare among Eastern European Christians.
  19. ^ a b Gruenbaum, Ellen (2015). The Female Circumcision Controversy: An Anthropological Perspective. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 61. ISBN 9780812292510. Christian theology generally interprets male circumcision to be an Old Testament rule that is no longer an obligation ... though in many countries (especially the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa, but not so much in Europe) it is widely practiced among Christians
  20. ^ a b c R. Peteet, John (2017). Spirituality and Religion Within the Culture of Medicine: From Evidence to Practice. Oxford University Press. pp. 97–101. ISBN 9780190272432. male circumcision is still observed among Ethiopian and Coptic Christians, and circumcision rates are also high today in the Philippines and the US.
  21. ^ a b c "Circumcision protest brought to Florence". Associated Press. March 30, 2008. However, the practice is still common among Christians in the United States, Oceania, South Korea, the Philippines, the Middle East and Africa. Some Middle Eastern Christians actually view the procedure as a rite of passage.
  22. ^ a b Creighton, Sarah; Liao, Lih-Mei (2019). Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery: Solution to What Problem?. Cambridge University Press. p. 63. ISBN 9781108435529. Christians in Africa, for instance, often practise infant male circumcision.
  23. ^ a b c d e N. Stearns, Peter (2008). The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World. Oxford University Press. p. 179. ISBN 9780195176322. Uniformly practiced by Jews, Muslims, and the members of Coptic, Ethiopian, and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, male circumcision remains prevalent in many regions of the world, particularly Africa, South and East Asia, Oceania, and Anglosphere countries.
  24. ^ Leviticus 12:3 says: on the eighth day a boy is to be circumcised.
  25. ^ Genesis 17:14
    Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.
  26. ^ Brenton's translation of Esther in the Septuagint 8:17: "in every city and province wherever the ordinance was published: wherever the proclamation took place, the Jews had joy and gladness, feasting and mirth: and many of the Gentiles were circumcised, and became Jews, for fear of the Jews."
  27. ^ a b Jewish Encyclopedia: Circumcision" Circumcision of Proselytes
  28. ^ a b c d e Lawrence H. Schiffman (1985). Who was a Jew?. Library of Congress Cataloging. Manufactured in the United States of America. pp. 32–38. ISBN 9780881250541. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  29. ^ Luke 2:21–24
  30. ^ McGrath, Alister E., Christianity: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing (2006). ISBN 1-4051-0899-1. Page 174: "In effect, they [Jewish Christians] seemed to regard Christianity as an affirmation of every aspect of contemporary Judaism, with the addition of one extra belief — that Jesus was the Messiah. Unless males were circumcised, they could not be saved (Acts 15:1)."
  31. ^ McGrath, page 174: "Paul notes the emergence of a Judaizing party in the region — that is, a group within the church which insisted that Gentile believers should obey every aspect of the law of Moses, including the need to be circumcised. According to Paul [reference is made to Galatians, but no specific verse is given], the leading force behind this party was James ... the brother of Jesus ..."
  32. ^ a b Cross, F. L.; Livingstone, E. A., eds. (2005). "James, St.". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd Revised ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 862. doi:10.1093/acref/9780192802903.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3.
  33. ^ St. James the Less Catholic Encyclopedia: "Then we lose sight of James till St. Paul, three years after his conversion (A.D. 37), went up to Jerusalem. ... On the same occasion, the "pillars" of the Church, James, Peter, and John "gave to me (Paul) and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision" (Galatians 2:9)."
  34. ^ a b c d e Hodges, Frederick M. (2001). "The Ideal Prepuce in Ancient Greece and Rome: Male Genital Aesthetics and Their Relation to Lipodermos, Circumcision, Foreskin Restoration, and the Kynodesme" (PDF). Bulletin of the History of Medicine. 75 (Fall 2001). Johns Hopkins University Press: 375–405. doi:10.1353/bhm.2001.0119. PMID 11568485. S2CID 29580193. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  35. ^ a b c d e f Rubin, Jody P. (July 1980). "Celsus' Decircumcision Operation: Medical and Historical Implications". Urology. 16 (1). Elsevier: 121–124. doi:10.1016/0090-4295(80)90354-4. PMID 6994325. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  36. ^ a b c d e Schultheiss, Dirk; Truss, Michael C.; Stief, Christian G.; Jonas, Udo (1998). "Uncircumcision: A Historical Review of Preputial Restoration". Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 101 (7). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins: 1990–8. doi:10.1097/00006534-199806000-00037. PMID 9623850. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  37. ^ a b c d e Fredriksen, Paula (2018). When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation. London: Yale University Press. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-0-300-19051-9.
  38. ^ Kohler, Kaufmann; Hirsch, Emil G.; Jacobs, Joseph; Friedenwald, Aaron; Broydé, Isaac. "Circumcision: In Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature". Jewish Encyclopedia. Kopelman Foundation. Retrieved 3 January 2020. Contact with Grecian life, especially at the games of the arena [which involved nudity], made this distinction obnoxious to the Hellenists, or antinationalists; and the consequence was their attempt to appear like the Greeks by epispasm ("making themselves foreskins"; I Macc. i. 15; Josephus, "Ant." xii. 5, § 1; Assumptio Mosis, viii.; I Cor. vii. 18; Tosef., Shab. xv. 9; Yeb. 72a, b; Yer. Peah i. 16b; Yeb. viii. 9a). All the more did the law-observing Jews defy the edict of Antiochus Epiphanes prohibiting circumcision (I Macc. i. 48, 60; ii. 46); and the Jewish women showed their loyalty to the Law, even at the risk of their lives, by themselves circumcising their sons.
  39. ^ a b Neusner, Jacob (1993). Approaches to Ancient Judaism, New Series: Religious and Theological Studies. Scholars Press. p. 149. Circumcised barbarians, along with any others who revealed the glans penis, were the butt of ribald humor. For Greek art portrays the foreskin, often drawn in meticulous detail, as an emblem of male beauty; and children with congenitally short foreskins were sometimes subjected to a treatment, known as epispasm, that was aimed at elongation.
  40. ^ a b Klutz, Todd (2002) [2000]. "Part II: Christian Origins and Development – Paul and the Development of Gentile Christianity". In Esler, Philip F. (ed.). The Early Christian World. Routledge Worlds (1st ed.). New York and London: Routledge. pp. 178–190. ISBN 9781032199344.
  41. ^ a b Seifrid, Mark A. (1992). "'Justification by Faith' and The Disposition of Paul's Argument". Justification by Faith: The Origin and Development of a Central Pauline Theme. Novum Testamentum, Supplements. Leiden: Brill Publishers. pp. 210–211, 246–247. ISBN 90-04-09521-7. ISSN 0167-9732.
  42. ^ Karl Josef von Hefele's Commentary on canon II of Gangra notes: "We further see that, at the time of the Synod of Gangra, the rule of the Apostolic Synod with regard to blood and things strangled was still in force. With the Greeks, indeed, it continued always in force as their Euchologies still show. Balsamon also, the well-known commentator on the canons of the Middle Ages, in his commentary on the sixty-third Apostolic Canon, expressly blames the Latins because they had ceased to observe this command. What the Latin Church, however, thought on this subject about the year 400, is shown by St. Augustine in his work Contra Faustum, where he states that the Apostles had given this command in order to unite the heathens and Jews in the one ark of Noah; but that then, when the barrier between Jewish and heathen converts had fallen, this command concerning things strangled and blood had lost its meaning, and was only observed by few. But still, as late as the eighth century, Pope Gregory the Third 731 forbade the eating of blood or things strangled under threat of a penance of forty days. No one will pretend that the disciplinary enactments of any council, even though it be one of the undisputed Ecumenical Synods, can be of greater and more unchanging force than the decree of that first council, held by the Holy Apostles at Jerusalem, and the fact that its decree has been obsolete for centuries in the West is proof that even Ecumenical canons may be of only temporary utility and may be repealed by disuse, like other laws."
  43. ^ Vana, Liliane (May 2013). Trigano, Shmuel (ed.). "Les lois noaẖides: Une mini-Torah pré-sinaïtique pour l'humanité et pour Israël" [The Noahid Laws: A Pre-Sinaitic Mini-Torah for Humanity and for Israel]. Pardés: Études et culture juives (in French). 52 (2). Paris: Éditions in Press: 211–236. doi:10.3917/parde.052.0211. eISSN 2271-1880. ISBN 978-2-84835-260-2. ISSN 0295-5652 – via
  44. ^ Bockmuehl, Markus (January 1995). "The Noachide Commandments and New Testament Ethics: with Special Reference to Acts 15 and Pauline Halakhah". Revue Biblique. 102 (1). Leuven: Peeters Publishers: 72–101. ISSN 0035-0907. JSTOR 44076024.
  45. ^ a b Fitzmyer, Joseph A. (1998). The Acts of the Apostles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries. Vol. 31. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. Chapter V. ISBN 9780300139822.
  46. ^ "peri'ah", (Shab. xxx. 6)
  47. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. p. 316-320. Harris cites Galatians 6:11, Romans 16:22, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 19. Joseph Barber Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians writes: "At this point [Galatians 6:11] the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name (2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:17) it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries... In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his handwriting may reflect the energy and determination of his soul."
  48. ^ McGrath (2006). Pp 174-175
  49. ^ Kohler, Kaufmann; Hirsch, Emil G.; Jacobs, Joseph; Friedenwald, Aaron; Broydé, Isaac. "Circumcision: In Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature". Jewish Encyclopedia. Kopelman Foundation. Retrieved 13 February 2020. Contact with Grecian life, especially at the games of the arena [which involved nudity], made this distinction obnoxious to the Hellenists, or antinationalists; and the consequence was their attempt to appear like the Greeks by epispasm ("making themselves foreskins"; I Macc. i. 15; Josephus, "Ant." xii. 5, § 1; Assumptio Mosis, viii.; I Cor. vii. 18; Tosef., Shab. xv. 9; Yeb. 72a, b; Yer. Peah i. 16b; Yeb. viii. 9a). All the more did the law-observing Jews defy the edict of Antiochus Epiphanes prohibiting circumcision (I Macc. i. 48, 60; ii. 46); and the Jewish women showed their loyalty to the Law, even at the risk of their lives, by themselves circumcising their sons.
  50. ^ Galatians 1:15–16, 2:7–9; Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11.
  51. ^ McGarvey on Acts 16: "Yet we see him in the case before us, circumcising Timothy with his own hand, and this 'on account of certain Jews who were in those quarters.'"
  52. ^ Bechtel, Florentine. Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Judaizers" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  53. ^ a b c d e f g Fredriksen 2018, pp. 157-160.
  54. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Circumcision: "To this epispastic operation performed on the athletes to conceal the marks of circumcision St. Paul alludes, me epispastho (1 Cor 7:18)."
  55. ^ Acts 15:7–10
  56. ^ The New Testament and Circumcision
  57. ^ Titus 1:10–16
  58. ^ Colossians 3:20
  59. ^ cultural/glass1
  60. ^ article on Jesus Jesus article on Jesus
  61. ^ Gentile: Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah
  62. ^ Loue, Sana (29 June 2020). Case Studies in Society, Religion, and Bioethics. Springer Nature. p. 42. ISBN 978-3-030-44150-0. Although many Christian denominations maintain a neutral stance with respect to infant male circumcision, there continues to be a debate regarding the practice.
  63. ^ Slosar, J.P.; D. O'Brien (2003). "The Ethics of Neonatal Male Circumcision: A Catholic Perspective". American Journal of Bioethics. 3 (2): 62–64. doi:10.1162/152651603766436306. PMID 12859824. S2CID 38064474.
  64. ^ Crowther, Jonathan (1815). A Portraiture of Methodism. p. 224.
  65. ^ Loue, Sana (29 June 2020). Case Studies in Society, Religion, and Bioethics. Springer Nature. p. 42. ISBN 978-3-030-44150-0. Simon Peter, considered the first Catholic Pope, condemned the practice of circumcision for converts (Acts 15). The Catholic Church formally denounced religious circumcision in its 1442 Cantate Domino, composed during the eleventh council of Florence (Eugenius IV, Pople, 1990 [1442]). Some Catholic hospitals today continue to oppose the practice based on the belief that it violates natural law within the Catholic moral tradition and Church teaching (Slosar & O'Brien, 2003). Various writings of the Church have been referenced in support of this position. The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides in pertinent part: 'Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against moral law. (United States Catholic Conference, 1997)' Directive 29 of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services advises that "all persons served by Catholic healthcare have the right and duty to protect and preserve their bodily and functional integrity" (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2001). Accordingly, neonatal circumcision performed for other than medical reasons is viewed as a prohibited amputation of the foreskin.
  66. ^ Marie, André (26 December 2016). "Circumcision: An Acceptable Practice?". The Catholic Thing. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  67. ^ Slosar, J.P.; D. O'Brien (2003). "The Ethics of Neonatal Male Circumcision: A Catholic Perspective". American Journal of Bioethics. 3 (2): 62–64. doi:10.1162/152651603766436306. PMID 12859824. S2CID 38064474. Michael Benatar and David Benatar (2003) identify and insightfully refute two arguments that opponents of neonatal male circumcision use in an attempt to demonstrate the moral illicitness of the practice. The first argument they consider is that circumcision is tantamount to an unjustifiable form of mutilation. The second argument is that, because circumcision is not a strictly therapeutic procedure, parents are not justified in giving consent for it on behalf of their child. As ethicists for a large Catholic health system, we have encountered a third argument opposing the practice, particularly in Catholic hospitals. In short, this argument is that the practice of circumcising male neonates is a violation of the natural law as conceived within the Catholic moral tradition and Church teaching. ... We are unaware of the Catholic Church explicitly addressing the practice of circumcising male infants in any of its official teachings.
  68. ^ a b Customary in some Coptic and other churches, indicating that it has been regionally normative since ancient times:
    • "The Coptic Christians in Egypt and the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians— two of the oldest surviving forms of Christianity— retain many of the features of early Christianity, including male circumcision. Circumcision is not prescribed in other forms of Christianity... Some Christian churches in South Africa oppose the practice, viewing it as a pagan ritual, while others, including the Nomiya church in Kenya, require circumcision for membership and participants in focus group discussions in Zambia and Malawi mentioned similar beliefs that Christians should practice circumcision since Jesus was circumcised and the Bible teaches the practice."
    • "The decision that Christians need not practice circumcision is recorded in Acts 15; there was never, however, a prohibition of circumcision, and it is practiced by Coptic Christians." "circumcision", The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001-05.
  69. ^ DeMello, Margo (2007). Encyclopedia of Body Adornment. ABC-Clio. p. 66. ISBN 9780313336959. Coptic Christians, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Eritrean Orthodox churches on the other hand, do observe the ordainment, and circumcise their sons anywhere from the first week of life to the first few years.
  70. ^ a b R. Wylie, Kevan (2015). ABC of Sexual Health. John Wiley & Sons. p. 101. ISBN 9781118665695. Although it is mostly common and required in male newborns with Moslem or Jewish backgrounds, certain Christian-dominant countries such as the United States also practice it commonly.
  71. ^ Mattson CL, Bailey RC, Muga R, Poulussen R, Onyango T (2005) Acceptability of male circumcision and predictors of circumcision preference among men and women in Nyanza province Kenya. AIDS Care 17:182–194.
  72. ^ Bible: Galatians ch 5 v2
  73. ^ Bible: Galatians ch 6 v15
  74. ^ Sicard, Sigvard von (1970). The Lutheran Church on the Coast of Tanzania 1887-1914: With Special Reference to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Synod of Uzaramo-Uluguru. Gleerup. p. 157.
  75. ^ Greek Orthodox Archdiocese calendar of Holy Days
  76. ^ "Year A 2019/2020" (PDF). Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. p. 5. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  77. ^ For example, "The Calendar of the Church Year" in The (Online) Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal Church in the United States of America), [1] retrieved 11 October 2006.
  78. ^ S. Ellwood, Robert (2008). The Encyclopedia of World Religions. Infobase Publishing. p. 95. ISBN 9781438110387. It is obligatory among Jews, Muslims, and Coptic Christians. Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians do not require circumcision. Starting in the last half of the 19th century, however, circumcision also became common among Christians in Europe and especially in North America.
  79. ^ Hunting, Katherine (2012). Essential Case Studies in Public Health: Putting Public Health Into Practice. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. pp. 23–24. ISBN 9781449648756. Neonatal circumcision is the general practice among Jews, Christians, and many, but not all Muslims.
  80. ^ Pfuntner A., Wier L.M., Stocks C. Most Frequent Procedures Performed in U.S. Hospitals, 2011. HCUP Statistical Brief #165. October 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. [2] Archived 2013-10-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  81. ^ "March 30: Jewish Doctors". Archived from the original on 2012-05-21.
  82. ^ Introcaso, Camille E.; Xu, Fujie; Kilmarx, Peter H.; Zaidi, Akbar; Markowitz, Lauri E. (July 2013). "Prevalence of Circumcision Among Men and Boys Aged 14 to 59 Years in the United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2005–2010". Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 40 (7): 521–525. doi:10.1097/01.OLQ.0000430797.56499.0d. PMID 23965763. S2CID 31883301.
  83. ^ Fayre Milo, Marilyn; C. Denniston, George; Hodges, Frederick Mansfield (2007). Male and Female Circumcision: Medical, Legal, and Ethical Considerations in Pediatric Practice. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 173–177. ISBN 9780585399379.
  84. ^ a b c L. Armstrong, Heather (2021). Encyclopedia of Sex and Sexuality: Understanding Biology, Psychology, and Culture [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 115-117. ISBN 9781610698757.
  85. ^ Castellsagué, X; et al. (2005). "Chlamydia trachomatis infection in female partners of circumcised and uncircumcised adult men". Am J Epidemiol. 162 (9): 907–916. doi:10.1093/aje/kwi284. PMID 16177149.
  86. ^ Lajous, M; et al. (2006). "Human papillomavirus link to circumcision is misleading (author's reply)". Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 15 (2): 405–6. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-05-0818. PMID 16492939. Circumcision is not usually performed by public sector health care providers in Mexico and we estimate the prevalence to be 10% to 31%, depending on the population.
  87. ^ Pang MG, Kim DS. Extraordinarily high rates of male circumcision in South Korea: history and underlying causes. BJU Int. 2002; p.89
  88. ^ Richters J, Smith AM, de Visser RO, Grulich AE, Rissel CE; Smith; De Visser; Grulich; Rissel (August 2006). "Circumcision in Australia: prevalence and effects on sexual health". Int J STD AIDS. 17 (8): 547–54. doi:10.1258/095646206778145730. PMID 16925903. S2CID 24396989.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  89. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Male circumcision: Global trends and determinants of prevalence, safety and acceptability" (PDF). World Health Organization. 2007.
  90. ^ "Circumcision amongst the Dogon". The Non-European Components of European Patrimony (NECEP) Database. 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-01-16. Retrieved 2006-09-03.
  91. ^ Nga, Armelle (30 December 2019). "The Ritual of Circumcision in Africa: The Case of South Africa". Africanews. This practice is old and widespread among African Christians with very close links to their beliefs. It can be executed traditionally or in hospital.
  92. ^ Thomas Riggs (2006). "Christianity: Coptic Christianity". Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices: Religions and denominations. Thomson Gale. ISBN 978-0-7876-6612-5.
  93. ^ Bakos, Gergely Tibor (2011). On Faith, Rationality, and the Other in the Late Middle Ages:: A Study of Nicholas of Cusa's Manuductive Approach to Islam. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 228. ISBN 9781606083420. Although it is stated that circumcision is not a sacrament necessary for salvation, this rite is accepted for the Ethiopian Jacobites and other Middle Eastern Christians.
  94. ^ J. Sharkey, Heather (2017). A History of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East. Cambridge University Press. p. 63. ISBN 9780521769372. On the Coptic Christian practice of male circumcision in Egypt, and on its practice by other Christians in western Asia.
  95. ^ Abdul W, Lubna S, Sundus I, Naila B (17 Jan 2017). "Reported Male Circumcision Practices in a Muslim-Majority Setting". BioMed Research International. 2017: 1–8. doi:10.1155/2017/4957348. PMC 5282422. PMID 28194416.