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Tertullian and the Unborn Child : Christian and Pagan Attitudes in Historical Perspective (Hardcover)
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The literary works of Tertullian of Carthage (c. AD 160 - c. 225) represent an important epoch in the history of attitudes toward the foetus and embryo. Although his ideas were far from consistent, Tertullian was the first Christian writer to argue rigorously that human existence began at conception, and that abortion was therefore homicide. Moreover, he was the first Latin writer whose work has survived (Christian or otherwise) to examine the unborn child at length. Despite the clear significance of this turning point in the history of the family, classical scholars have paid surprisingly little attention to Tertullian’s attitude toward the child in utero. Those considering Tertullian’s treatises concerning unborn children frequently fail to consider the context behind his works: that of his complete corpus, his life and times, and his broad knowledge of Greco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian literature. This study provides a fuller picture of Tertullian’s attitude toward the unborn child than has been previously achieved, separating him from the contemporary abortion debate. Tertullian’s writings are treated as works of ancient rhetorical literature and analysed in light of his rhetorical aims, his understanding of prenatal biology, and his engagement with Roman and Christian cultural presuppositions concerning abortion.
Number of Pages: 194
Series Title: Medicine and the Body in Antiquity
Author: Julian Barr
Street Date: March 8, 2017
Item Number (DPCI): 248-40-1912
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