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Children and Childhood in World Religions

Primary Sources and Texts

Edited by Don S. Browning and Marcia J. Bunge

Publication Year: 2009

While children figure prominently in religious traditions, few books have directly explored the complex relationships between children and religion. This is the first book to examine the theme of children in major religions of the world.Each of six chapters, edited by world-class scholars, focuses on one religious tradition and includes an introduction and a selection of primary texts ranging from legal to liturgical and from the ancient to the contemporary. Through both the scholarly introductions and the primary sources, this comprehensive volume addresses a range of topics, from the sanctity of birth to a child's relationship to evil, showing that issues regarding children are central to understanding world religions and raising significant questions about our own conceptions of children today.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Series: Series in Childhood Studies

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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Preface and Acknowledgements

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pp. vii-x

This volume evolved out of a series of research programs sponsored by the Center for the Study of Law and Religion in the School of Law of Emory University. More specifically, it was part of the project called The Child in Law, Religion, and Society. This project began in 2003 and was the second phase of two research...

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pp. 1-14

Since every person on earth once was or is a child, children and childhood are bound to be central themes in the world’s religions. Indeed, references to children are often found in the authoritative texts, symbols, doctrines, and moral teachings of various religious traditions. Many religious rituals revolve...

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Chapter 1: Judaism

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pp. 15-82

Procreation, the commandment to bear offspring, is frequently noted as one of the central obligations in Judaism. Both because of the centrality of the commandment to procreate in the book of Genesis and because of the contrast between Jewish culture in antiquity and its sister religion, Christianity, the obligation to marry and...

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Chapter 2: Christianity

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pp. 83-150

The relation of Christianity to children and childhood is complex, diverse, and disputed. It is as old as the origins of Christianity itself in Jesus’s own birth and childhood and in his relationship to children. Two thousand years of Christian history have produced multiple and even conflicting theological understandings of...

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Chapter 3: Islam

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pp. 151-216

What exactly do we mean by Islam when referring to “The Child in Islam”? Do we mean the beliefs and practices of the about 213 million Muslims, who constitute 88 percent of the population of Indonesia, making it the largest Islamic country in the world? Or those of the about 380 million Muslims living in the Indian subcontinent...

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Chapter 4: Hinduism

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pp. 217-276

Recent work on childhood in India has made the crucial point that the child is defined by what the child is not. As the classical literature on childhood has also argued, there are several ways we can think about the idea of the “child” and its opposite.1 We can understand a child as a small homunculus, with lesser physical...

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Chapter 5: Buddhism

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pp. 277-336

Like many religions, Buddhism was not created with an eye to its long-term viability as a social institution. Instead, Buddhism came into its full institutional presence in a gradual manner, with much of the “architecture” of Buddhist thought and practice fashioned long after the death of the Buddha. This seems particularly true for the...

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Chapter 6: Confucianism

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pp. 337-392

For most of its long history in China, Confucianism was a moral system that rested on the religious underpinnings of ancestor worship and operated with the strong support of the state’s political and legal apparatus. A good way to approach our topic, as a chapter in Children and Childhood in World Religions, is to begin...


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pp. 393-394


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pp. 395-400

E-ISBN-13: 9780813548425
E-ISBN-10: 081354842X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813545172
Print-ISBN-10: 081354517X

Page Count: 412
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Series in Childhood Studies