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earlier tradition. Many continued to follow the Origenist (and Encratite) paradigm by regarding sex and procreation as strictly post-lapsarian developments. In this view it was the 'original sin' of Adam and Eve - and their consequent mortality - that made sexual reproduction necessary to sustain the human race. This position is found in a number of the Greek fathers, among them Gregory of Nyssa (De opificio hominis 17) and John Chrysostom. In one of his early ascetical treatises Chrysostom argued that in paradise the first human beings lived in a wholly non-sexual state: 'Desire for sexual intercourse, conception, labour, childbirth and every form of corruption had been banished from their souls. As a clear river shooting forth from a pure source, so were they in that place adorned by virginity' (De virginitate 14.3). Marriage, by contrast, 'springs from disobedience, from a curse, from death' (14.6).12

These negative tendencies in some of the Greek fathers were occasionally balanced by a serious concern with the moral formation of children. The writings ofJohn Chrysostom are instructive on this matter. In his early treatise Against the opponents of the monastic life, Chrysostom argued that monasteries provided the ideal context for the education of young men. The city was filled with too many temptations to allow for proper moral formation. But as his thought matured, Chrysostom came to see the Christian household as the primary place for education in Christian values. His essay On vainglory and the right way to educate children is virtually unique in patristic literature for its detailed advice to parents on how to shape the character of their children and help them to avoid the vices of urban life. Abandoning his earlier enthusiasm for monastic education, Chrysostom placed responsibility for the moral formation of children squarely on the shoulders of Christian parents (De inani gloria 22). Outside of the writings of Chrysostom, however, the moral and religious education of children remained an underdeveloped topic in early Christian discourse.13

The question of the original condition of Adam and Eve and the place of procreation in God's plan also exercised the minds of Christians in the West. Following the Greek fathers, Jerome observed that Adam and Eve had fulfilled the command to 'increase and multiply' only after the fall: 'Eve was a

12 Trans. Shore, 21-2; Chrysostom's thinking on this topic, however, may have evolved. In Hom. 20.1 on Ephesians (PG 62:135), he describes sexual desire (eros) as a power implanted in human nature 'from the beginning' (ex arches).

13 Exceptions are rare. Basil of Caesarea, for example, accepted children of both sexes into his monasteries and provided for their education (Regulae fusius tractatae 15). The Apostolic constitutions urged Christians to adopt orphaned children and to arrange suitable marriages for them. Bishops were encouraged to assist young men in learning a trade so that they could become self-sufficient (4.1.1-2).

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Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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