Monday, June 05, 2017

Molding behavior

These distinctive terms that were developed to express condemnation of child sexual abuse appear also in text of other early Christian writers such as Justin, Tatian, Theophilus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, all from the second and third centuries AD. Sometimes they serve to illustrate “Gentile/pagan” depravity, and they form “a part of the apologetical battery thrown up at the Greco-Roman opponents of the Christians.” But the earliest uses in Didache and Barnabus show that the originating purposes in relabeling “pederasty” as “child (sexual) corruption” included also the concern to discourage the practice among Christians. In short, the terms are not simply ancient Christian propaganda against outsiders. They also reflect a collective effort to shape Christian behavior over against the practices tolerated in the wider culture, an effort that even included innovations in the vocabulary of sexual behavior.— Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World, page 168

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