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View Diary: Where in the Bible? (22 comments)

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  •  As I Understand It... (1+ / 0-)
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    For one thing, when anti-abortionists talk about "When Life Begins", they're really talking about ensoulment, the point at which the living tissue which grows into a baby becomes an individual with a soul.  They don't use that term because "Life begins" sounds scientific and sounds so common sensical, whereas "ensoulment" sounds like theological jargon.  (Which it is.)

    The most ancient Jewish belief about life was that the soul entered the body of an infant when it took its first breath, which they based on the story in Genesis where God formed Adam out of clay but only after God breathed into his nostrils did Adam become a living being.  

    Funny.  I get the impression that the Eden story in Genesis 2 isn't taught all that much anyone.  Everyone seems to be more focused on the 7 Days of Genesis 1 and arguing about Monkey-Evolution and all, but the account in Genesis 2 is less cosmic, more of a human scaled story.  But I'm getting away from the point.

    In the Middle Ages, the general belief was that Ensoulment occured at "The Quickening", that is, the time when the mother could feel the baby moving around in her womb.  Since that's the earliest the mother can actually feel that it's alive in her, that seems quite reasonable.

    But, you asked, what does the Bible say?

    There are three Bible passages used to bolster the "Life at Conception" argument.

    The first in usually the one from Jeremiah

    "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
    -- Jeremiah 1:5, (NIV)
    As I see it, this verse is speaking about God's Foreknowlege, not about the state of the pre-natal prophet's soul.  You could just as easily render it, "When you were just a twinkle in your father's eye..."

    The second passage they usually use is the story in Luke where Mary, having just learned that she will bear the Messiah, goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who is several months pregnant with a child of her own, who will eventually become John the Baptist.

    When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb... In a loud voice she exclaimed "Blessed are you amoung women, and blessed the child you will bear! ... As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy."
    -- Luke 1:41-42, 44 (NIV)
    To me this sounds like a great proof-text if you want to justify The Quickening as the time of ensoullment.  It doesn't really say one thing or another about anything earlier.  What's more, you could just as easily say that the baby's kick at that moment was a coincidence and Elizabeth only interpreted it as a pre-natal prophecy.

    The last verse is from the Psalms, and I can't find it right now; but it goes something like  "In sin did my parents concieve me,"  but as with the Jeremiah passage, I think that here the writer was engaging in hyperbolie.

    Nowhere in the Bible does it flat out say that Life Begins at Conception.  I say that with authority, because if it did the anti-abortion folks would have better Bible verses to back up their arguments.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 06:53:01 AM PDT

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