October 22nd, 2002

bswing

Things they don't tell you in Sunday School...

From A.N. Wilson's book Paul: The Mind of the Apostle (Random House, 1997).
"In Roman times, circumcision was done with a metal knife, and, if we believe that Paul did insist on Timothy undergoing circumcision, it is perhaps worth reminding outselves of the three essential parts of the ritual, without which it is not complete. The first part is milah, the cutting away of the outer part of the foreskin. This is done with one sweep of the knife. The second part, periah, is the tearing of the inner lining of the foreskin which still adheres to the gland, so as to lay it wholly bare. This was (and is) done by the operator - the mohel, the professional circumciser - with his thumb-nail and index finger. The third and essential part of the ritual is mesisah the sucking of blood from the wound. Since the ninteenth century, it has been permissible to finish this part of the ritual with a swab, but in all preceeding centuries and certainly in the time of Paul it was necessary for the mohel to clean the wound by taking the penis into his mouth. In the case of a young adult male such as Timothy the bleeding would have been copious." (p.131)