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The practice of circumcision, or the cutting off of the foreskin, was not confined to Israel and Judaism but was common among other peoples (e.g., in Egypt; see Jer. 9:25–26). It probably arose in prehistoric times as an apotropaic act and was originally performed shortly before puberty (see Gen. 17:25). The OT refers also to the circumcision of adults (Josh. 5:2–9; Gen. 34:13–26). Only in P is circumcision made mandatory on the eighth day after birth. It thus acquires wide-ranging theological significance as a sign of the covenant (Gen. 17:10–14).

In early Judaism circumcision was…

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Schäfer, Peter, “Circumcision”, in: Encyclopedia of Christianity Online. Consulted online on 16 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2211-2685_eco_C910>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004169678, 20080512

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