Nonfiction 14

Childhood and Violence in the Western Tradition by Laurence Brockliss, Heather Montgomery

By Laurence Brockliss, Heather Montgomery

The violence and forget suffered via kids this present day is a standard topic of media consciousness and masses political hand-wringing, now not simply in Britain yet in different elements of the western international. As but, besides the fact that, there was no try and discover this crisis traditionally and think about how the boundary among stable and undesirable parenting could have replaced throughout time. This e-book makes an attempt to fill the space through interpreting the function of violence and forget within the relatives among parents/carers and youngsters from the Bronze Age to the current. via demonstrating how the boundary among appropriate and unacceptable kinds of childrearing has shifted throughout the a while, and never unavoidably in a linear course, it will emphasise how rather fresh our modern realizing of fine and undesirable parenting is, and accordingly the excessive probability that that figuring out has now not been thoroughly digested.

The publication is split into six, multi-authored chapters. the 1st 4 take care of diverse manifestations during the centuries of what may this present day be thought of violence and forget: 1) baby sacrifice; 2) infanticide and abandonment; three) actual and psychological cruelty; and four) exploitation. The 5th and 6th chapters glance on the quite a few violent and non-violent recommendations utilized by young children as coping mechanisms in what to us turns out a truly harsh international. each one bankruptcy comprises a few brief chronologically or thematically particular extracts, written by means of approximately forty historians, sociologists, anthropologists, literary students and theologians, and knitted jointly right into a coherent narrative by way of the editors.

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On human sacrifice more generally, see D. D. Hughes, Human Sacrifice in Ancient Greece (London: Routledge, 1991); M. A. Green, Dying for the Gods: Human Sacrifice in Iron Age and Roman Europe (Stroud: Tempus, 2001). 15 H. Sader, ‘Phoenician Stelae from Tyre’, Berytus, 39 (1991), 101–26; H. ’, Berytus, 39 (1991), 39–82. 16 Sites include those at Carthage and Sousse in North Africa, Motya in Sicily, Nora Sulcis, Monte Sirai and Tharros in Sardinia, and possibly Amathus in Cyprus. 17 See further S.

However, in neither story is God presented as an unwilling or reluctant recipient of this type of offering. An alternative approach might confront head-on the religious reality of child sacrifice in ancient civilisations, but lessen its impact by casting the practice as a ‘primitive’ form of population control or socio-economic prudence, in which the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter and the non-sacrifice of Abraham’s son vividly illustrate the preferential status of male children over female children.

12 Indeed, God appears unmoved by Jephthah’s distress, for neither a divine messenger nor a substitute animal appears in order to prevent the girl’s death. Whilst these biblical stories have generated centuries of uneasy theological debate, they remain discomforting to modern sensibilities – whether religiously-felt or not – for the biblical traditions have played a formative role in the shaping of modern western societies and their moral and ethical parameters. As such, the biblical portrayals of the apparently acceptable face of child sacrifice are, for many, distinctly unsettling.

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