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Adults as Children

Images of Childhood in the Ancient World and the New Testament


James M. M. Francis

This book is a study of the image of the child in the teaching of Jesus and the literature of the New Testament set against the background of the ancient world, the Old Testament and Judaism. It also reflects on the complex relationship between attitudes to children and the imaging of the child. It is suggested that child imagery serves, generally speaking, as a window on tradition, and in religious discourse in particular it offers perspectives on the relationship between believing and belonging. In exploring how child imagery informs the teaching of Jesus, it is argued that his own use of such imagery, whilst not unique, being influenced primarily by the wider imagery of Israel as God’s son (child) and servant, is nevertheless distinctive. As a metaphor symbolising primarily a call to change and renewal, it conveys in microcosm the central themes of his message of the kingdom of God. The study goes on to explore the meanings of child imagery in the theologies of the Gospel writers and in other New Testament literary contexts.
Contents: The image of the child in the Graeco-Roman World – The image of the child in Judaism – The image of the child in the New Testament – Childhood as discipleship in the gospels – Child imagery in Paul – Child imagery in the Letter to the Hebrews – Child imagery in 1 Peter – The Childhood of Jesus and Jesus as Child.