Early Judaism

In Judaism at the beginning of the common era, this text was interpreted in various ways. In most interpretations, developing life was not generally regarded as possessing the legal status of a person, but abortion was nonetheless opposed, in part because of its interference with creation, in part because it violated the command to reproduce, and in part because it deprived the family (in particular the father) of something of value in the birth of another child. Generally speaking, Judaism objected to the widespread acceptance of abortion (and even of infanticide) in the ancient world, even if it did not see abortion as a highly serious offense.

In the translation of this Hebrew text into Greek, a significant mistranslation occurred. Where the original says "no harm," the translators substituted "no form," thereby introducing into religious debate the distinction between the unformed and the formed fetus. The widely influential Jewish scholar Philo (c. 20 b.c.e.—c. 50 c.e.), for instance, distinguished between formed and unformed fetus, and early christianity picked up this distinction.

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