Could the Fate of the Prepuce in the Pauline Epistles & Acts Depend on Decrees in the times of Antoninus Pius & Hadrian?

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Could the Fate of the Prepuce in the Pauline Epistles & Acts Depend on Decrees in the times of Antoninus Pius & Hadrian?

Post by MrMacSon »

A. There are a number of passages in the Pauline epistles and Acts of the Apostles that address circumcision in relation to Jews and Gentiles, and in relation to budding Christianity.

B. A few scholars, such as Markus Vinzent, Robert M Price, and Hermann Detering (+/- others), argue that some or most of the Pauline epistles were edited, redacted or even largely written in the 2nd century either in or outside the Marcionite community/ies.

C. There were some decrees in the early to mid 2nd century which could explain the focus on circumcision in the Pauline epistles and Acts (as outlined in (A) above), especially if their pertinent passages were partly (or fully) written, edited or redacted in the 2nd century. Moreover, such redactions or editing, or even 2nd century composition, could explain some of their apparent contradictions towards circumcision.
The Digest of Justinian (a legal compilation collected by learned jurists at the behest of Justinian in 533) documents that, around 140, [page 391] Emperor Antoninus Pius at least modified the ruling of Hadrian to allow only the Hebrews to circumcise their children, while upholding the legal protections from circumcision for all other peoples:
  • Jews are permitted to circumcise only their sons on the authority of a rescript of the Divine Pius; if anyone shall commit it on one who is not of the same religion, he shall suffer the punishment of a castrator.64
While Pius limited the exemption to Hebrews, papyrological documents in Greek, dating from 155 to 189 CE., indicate that complex bureaucratic mechanisms were provisionally established to grant individual exemptions to this edict for certain members of the Egyptian priestly caste.65 Few such exemptions, however, appear to have been granted. The widespread approval for the abolition of circumcision was limited by neither space nor time, for, by the end of the third century, Pius's interdiction against circumcision was enhanced by the enactment of an additional legal prohibition:
  • Roman citizens, who suffer that they themselves or their slaves be circumcised in accordance with the Jewish custom, are exiled perpetually to an island and their property confiscated; the doctors suffer capital punishment. If Jews shall circumcise purchased slaves of another nation, they shall be banished or suffer capital punishment.66
The incorporation into the Digest of Pius's more recent revisions of the law banning circumcision would explain why the sixth-century compilers of the Digest did not include the obsolete original decree of Hadrian.

Frederick M. Hodges (2001) 'The Ideal Prepuce in Ancient Greece and Rome: Male Genital Aesthetics and Their Relation to Lipodermos, Circumcision, Foreskin Restoration, and the Kynodesme', The Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 75 [Fall]: pp. 375–405,
  • 64 Digesta 48:8:11 (Mommsen, Krueger, Watson [n. 61], 4: 853); translation from Amnon Linder, ed., The Jews in Roman Imperial Legislation (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1987), p. 100.

    65 U. Wilcken, 'Zur Geschichte der Beschneidung. I. Die ägyptischen Beschneid-ungsurkunden', Archiv für Papyrusforschung, 1902, 2: 4–13; P. Foucart, 'Rescrit d'Antonin relatif à la circoncision et son application en Égypte', Journal des Savants, 1911, 9: 5–14.

    66 Paulus, Sententiae 5:22:3–4, in Linder, Jews in Roman Imperial Legislation (n. 64), pp. 117–20.
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