History Session - 2010 Meeting, Antalya, Turkey - The Older History of Nonmedical Circumsicion

Article Index

3. The Older History of Nonmedical Circumsicion

Mikko Reunanen, MD
Hospital of Mehilainen, Turku, Finland

About 10.000-6.000 BCE aboriginal tribes in deserts of Australia and tribes in north-eastern Africa  practised circumcision as puberty rite.

Some believe also that in mummies you can sometimes see circumcised men. It may also be that they have had only dorsal incision on medical reasons. In Egyptian relief (for example from sixth dynasty) you can see the circumcision or shaving of the pubic hair. In later dynasties the Pharaoh Ahomse and Pharaoh Amenhotep I were not circumcised.

The first description of circumcision is in The Holy Bible (about 600 BCE), in Genesis 17:10-12 or 1st part of Tora: God said to Abram (Abraham): ”For your part you must keep my covenant… every male among you must be circumcised at his 8th day…you shall cut off the flesh of your foreskin, and that will be the symbol of the covenant between us”. According to this the Jewish people circumcise their sons at the age of eight day.

In the Greek literature and sculptures the men are not circumcised, the long foreskins are admired, the circumcised men being slaves, Egyptians and Semites as well as Jews (Herodotus, 485-420 BCE). The apostle Paul argued that ”in Christ Jesus neither physical circumcision nor uncircumcision count for anything” ( Gal 5:6). So in the apostolic council at Jerusalem, 49 CE, it was not seen necessary to circumcise the Christians. thereafter even the Jews decided that circumcision has value if you observe the law (of Moses).

Circumcision is an old Arab tradition (dated before CE), and in The Holy Coran (Qur´an) it is not mentioned at all. In old traditions (of Abraham) it is under the Tahara (=hygiene) in Hadith (sayings of Muhammad), with cutting of the nails and shaving of the beard.

Ecumenical Council of Florence, 1438-1445: A person making a circumcision has risk for loosing eternal salvation.