In his books, Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective and Circumcision, the Hidden Trauma: How an American Cultural Practice Affects Infants and Ultimately Us All, anthropologist Dr. Ronald Goldman maintains that, as is true of the increasing controversial American practice of circumcision, "Jewish circumcision is dependent on the acceptance of cultural myths" (Goldman, Trauma, 303).
Where it touches on the same issue, A. N. Wilson in his book Paul: The Mind of the Apostle is equally as interesting. (Wilson is the literary editor of the British newspaper the Evening Standard.) When a Roman official asked, concerning circumcision, why God had not created man originally as he wanted him to be a rabbi replied that "it was in order that man should perfect himself by the fulfillment of a divine command." From the viewpoint of St. Paul the only agent for self-improvement was God (Wilson, 130-131). In Galatians 5:2-6, Paul writes "neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only things that counts is faith working through love. Nevertheless, despite Paul's opinion, enough Gentiles converted to Judaism or to the sect of Judaism that eventually became Christianity that the Flavian Emperors made it a capital offense for a Gentile to be circumcised (Wilson, 105). Ironically the Hellinized Jews of Syria were developing a more liberal attitude and the ritual of circumcision had started to wane. Yet over the blood sacrifice of the foreskin Judaism and Christianity were ultimately to divide, leading eventually to the anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust. The final irony is that today mostly "Christian" America continues the mutilation of male children and that among the most reasoned criticism of circumcision is that of an enlightened Jewish anthropologist.
This issue of the Journal includes another in a series of articles by Dr. John Sonne, Interpreting the Dread of Being Aborted in Therapy and a discussion of the interrelated issues of Sexual Assault and Birth Trauma. A brief anthropology paper on birth in several indigenous cultures Celebrating a Return to Earth, by Anne H. Maiden, Ph.D. was based on a presentation at a previous APPPAH Conference.
Ruth J. Carter, Ph.D.
Georgia College & State University