Monday, February 04, 2008

Abortion And 1 Enoch

I've been reading Ethiopic book of Enoch (aka 1 Enoch) for my Dead Sea Scrolls class and was amazed to find some explicit condemnations in it with regards to abortion. Here are two key texts:

In Book II (The Book of the Similitudes), the author lists the fallen angels and their evil deeds:

"The fifth is named Kasadya, it is he who revealed to the children of the people (the various) flagellations of all evil--(the flagellation) of the souls and the demons, the smashing of the embryo in the womb so that it may be crushed, the flagellation of the soul....."
(1 Enoch 69:12)

In Book V (The Two Ways of the Righteous and the Sinner), Enoch is giving advice to his children and to the righteous and tells them:

"In those days, be ready, you righteous ones, to raise up your prayers as a memorial, and place them as a testimony before the angels; and they (the angels) shall bring the sins of the sinners for a memorial before the Most High. In those days, the nations shall be confounded, and the families of the nations shall rise in the day of the destruction of the sinners. In those days, they (the women) shall become pregnant, but they (the sinners) shall come out and abort their infants and cast them out from their midst; they shall (also) abandon their (other) children, casting their infants out while they are still suckling. They shall neither return to them (their babies) nor have compassion upon their beloved ones."
(1 Enoch 99:3-5)

Scholars date the composition of the books of Enoch from the Second Century B.C. to the First Century A.D. What this reveals to us is that the view of abortion being evil is not a modern view. It has been viewed as evil from ancient times. And why wouldn't it? If we hold murder to be evil, why would murdering an innocent child in the womb be any different?

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