A topical and interesting discussion
The sexual abuse of children has now become a major and publicly recognized concern (and high time too!). A recent study by John W. Martens shows that for early Christians, too, it was a major concern, and that this is reflected in what appears to be a distinctive early Christian vocabulary to refer to the practice: John W. Martens, “‘Do Not Sexually Abuse Children’: The Language of Early Christian Sexual Ethics,” in Children in Late Ancient Christianity, eds. Cornelia B. Horn and Robert R. Phenix (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009), 227-54.
As Martens notes, there was a whole Greek vocabulary for the practice of having sex with children: “pederastia” (“child-love”), “pederastes” (“child-lover”), etc. Indeed, Roman-era poets and others celebrate the practice, and it seems to have been tolerated widely. It was particularly slave-children who likely suffered the most. But (and this is Martens’ contribution) in early…
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