TheoLog Entry

“Early Christian writing discusses the use of self-injury as ritual.”

So says Dr. Kammie Juzwin, a psychologist in suburban Chicago, in a Tribune article about the increase of self-injury among depressed teens (“Self-Injury Cuts Deeper Into America’s Youth,” August 1, 2005).

What could he possibly mean? Readers of Israel’s scriptures know well that it is foreign gods who demand self-injury, not the God of the bible (see the story about Elijah and the prophets of Baal, 1 Kings 18). Perhaps this is a reference to Origen’s self-castration, reported by Eusebius of Caesaria. In response to Jesus’ enigmatic words (Matthew 19:12) Origen apparently went the extra mile. The old joke among church historians asks why someone who took so much of scripture to be allegorical speech decided to read this particular verse so literally!


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