Mike Aquilina

The Beginning of the End of Child Abuse

Sunday March 14th 2010, 1:59 pm

BMCR reviews a very important work, “Let the Little Children Come to Me”: Childhood and Children in Early Christianity, by Cornelia B. Horn, John W. Martens.

Through an exhaustive analysis of nearly every quote pertaining to children in the canonical New Testament, with some references from early patristic texts and some extracanonical, especially the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the authors attempt to answer a basic and important question: what “significant differences Christianity made in the lives of children, historically, sociologically, and culturally” in the first few centuries? The answer they posit is that “Christianity made life better for children” … “Christian criticism of practices of abuse, infanticide, abortion, and exposure led to improved lives for numerous children, in significant part because the Roman state embraced the Christian moral code in the course of the fourth and fifth century.”

Also important, on the same topic: When Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity, by O. M. Bakke.