by David Gunn

– The ongoing debate over the ethical viability of abortion has tended to center on the issue of when precisely life may be said to begin. The reason for this is not difficult to grasp: if it is granted that life begins at conception, then it logically follows that the fetus within the womb merits all the legal rights and protections due to living human beings, including the legal protection against murder. If on the other hand life does not begin until birth, then the fetus cannot be expected to receive those rights and protections, and abortion is therefore an ethically viable (though not necessarily ethically praiseworthy) option.[1] Should any decisive determination be made regarding the issue of when life begins, it would therefore wield game-changing influence over the entire abortion debate. Of course, no enduring determination of the sort has yet been made, and the debate continues.

For those that regard the Bible as the sole authoritative depository of moral truth, what Scripture contributes to the issue of when life begins is an obvious subject of interest. If the Bible teaches that life begins at conception, as pro-life advocates typically aver, then it follows that believers in the authority of Scripture ought not to condone the practice. Yet recent statistics indicate that sixty-nine percent of abortion clients in America are Christian teens from Protestant and Catholic backgrounds, with Protestants comprising forty-two percent of all abortions in America and Catholics comprising twenty-seven percent.[2] So are pro-life advocates who cite the Bible as a pro-life document simply wrong? What exactly does the Bible say about the subject of when life begins?

The perspective of this paper is that although the Bible does not explicitly designate a fixed point at which life begins (indeed, the biblical authors nowhere set out to answer directly the question of when life begins), it does nevertheless contain teachings that directly impact the subject by means of implication. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that according to the Bible, human life clearly originates within the womb and therefore may be said to begin prior to birth. One passage (Luke 1:39-45) gives rise to an even more detailed implication: that life definitely begins prior to the sixth month of gestation, and very probably prior to the end of the first month of gestation. I will not seek to be exhaustive, but will endeavor to survey and briefly exegete those passages that are most germane to the issue at hand. Those passages include Ex. 21:22-25, Ps. 139:13, Jer. 1:4-8, and Luke 1:39-45.


Exodus 21:22-25

When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.  (23)  But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life,  (24)  eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,  (25)  burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.[3]

This casuistic law occurs shortly after the giving of the Decalogue, and envisions a scenario in which two men are struggling with one another and accidentally deliver a blow to a pregnant woman. If “her children come out” (וְיָֻצְאוּ יְלָדֶיהָ) yet there was no injury (אָסוֹן), a fine would be levied against the guilty party. However, if there was significant injury, the law of lex talionis would be enacted. The talion principle is explicitly said to extend even to the retributive taking of “life for life” (נֶפֶשׁ תַּחַת נָפֶשׁ) in this instance (v. 23). The point is this: even inducing the premature healthy birth of a child resulted in a fine, but if the blow to the mother caused the baby to emerge injured, the talion principle applied, even to the point of “life for life.” This strongly implies that the fetus in the womb is recognized by the Mosaic Law as possessing human life, and therefore meriting normal legal protection.

That this passage is exegetically difficult is beyond dispute. However, whether or not it addresses the subject of when life begins turns almost entirely on the interpretation of וְיָֻצְאוּ יְלָדֶיהָּ. This point is often lost in technical discussions of this passage. Sprinkle, for example, obfuscates the issue by raising numerous exegetical difficulties that ultimately have virtually no bearing on the status of the unborn in this pericope.[4] One such instance is his lengthy discussion on whether or not lex talionis is meant to be applied literally in this case. He suggests that monetary ransom is probably in view rather than the literal retributive taking of a life since the damage inflicted seems to be accidental.[5] This is certainly debatable, and Layton makes a persuasive case that the intentional nature of the physical struggle would render the literal application of lex talionis perfectly viable.[6] But in the final analysis, such a discussion has little bearing on the issue at hand. How the principle of talio was to be enacted in this case is far less important than the fact that it was indeed prescribed for enactment one way or another. That necessitates that the injured party be recognized in the eyes of the law as a person.[7]

The controlling issue, then, is whether וְיָֻצְאוּ יְלָדֶיהָ refers to premature birth or to miscarriage. Numerous English translations lean toward miscarriage,[8] which while not necessarily establishing the sub-human status of the fetus would nevertheless seem to strip this passage of its relevance to the abortion issue.[9] However, the interpretation favoring miscarriage over premature birth must be rejected on grammatical grounds. Congdon aptly sums up the germane arguments. First, יָלָד denotes a living child in every other occurrence of the word in the Old Testament (Mosaic usage included).[10] One may argue that this verse is an exception to the general usage, but nothing in the context would seem to require such, so that line of defense amounts to little more than special pleading. Second, if Moses intended to communicate the idea of miscarriage in this passage, it is exceedingly strange that he used the ambiguous verb יָצָא (“to go or come out”) when the normal term for miscarriage,שָׁכַל, was available.[11] This objection is especially strong given the fact that שָׁכַל is used by Moses to denote miscarriage only two chapters later, in Ex. 23:26.

Sprinkle feels that this second point is an argument from silence that could just as easily be turned on its head: “Why did the author not use the ordinary word for a live birth יָלָד, if he had that in mind?”[12] But this rebuttal misses the point entirely. A premature birth may be either a live birth or a stillbirth, and this level of generality is demanded by the circumstances envisioned. After all, if the author had used יָלָד, then lex talionis would only be applicable in the case of injury, not death. The notion of a premature birth is sufficiently general to allow for either a healthy birth (in which case only a fine is levied, v. 22), or else for the baby to be born injured or stillborn (in which case lex talionis would be enacted, v. 23). Thus, the unborn fetus is recognized as a living human being by this law.

One final grammatical anomaly needs to be addressed, as some feel that it supports the miscarriage view. Why does the author use the plural rather than the singular form of יֶלֶד? Again, Sprinkle champions the miscarriage view, arguing that יְלָדֶיהָ is a “plural of abstraction” with the sense “‘the product of her womb,’ an apt term for an inadequately developed baby.”[13] Why this interpretation should be exegetically preferred, however—especially given the fact that the fetus itself would still be singular—is unclear. Other equally plausible explanations for the plural form could easily be advanced. Kaiser feels that the plural is used to allow for the baby to be either sex.[14] Keil and Delitzsch feel that it is used indefinitely, to allow for multiple babies (twins, triplets, etc.) to be in view.[15] Kline feels it is a generic plural, used to cover “both contingencies” (i.e., either a successful or an unsuccessful premature birth).[16] All of these explanations are plausible, and none is obviously exegetically preferable to the others. Therefore, the weight of grammatical evidence seems still to support the view that premature birth rather than miscarriage is in view, and that the human personhood of the fetus in the womb is supported by this passage.


Psalm 139:13-16

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  (14)  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  (15)  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  (16)  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

This Psalm bears witness to the majesty and sovereignty of God. The psalmist explores these themes via several vectors: The Lord’s intimate knowledge of him (139:1-6), his inability to flee from the Lord (139:7-12), and the Lord’s creative intrauterine activity (139:13-16). From there, the psalmist launches into an imprecatory call for God to judge his enemies (139:19-22), and for Him to examine the psalmist himself to expose any impurity (139:23-24). But so far as the subject at hand is concerned, vv. 13-16 constitute the section of primary interest. Here, the psalmist describes the Lord “creating” (קָנִיתָ) his internal parts, “weaving him together” (תְּסֻכֵּנִי), and “seeing” (רָאוּ) him in his embryonic state (גָּלְמִי). As the locus of these actions is the womb, this passage has direct bearing on the question of when life begins according to the Bible.

In considering this passage’s relationship to the abortion debate, it is important to remember that technically it makes no prescriptive ruling on the matter of abortion. However, descriptively it strongly supports the notion that life begins within the womb, i.e. prior to birth.[17] The psalmist depicts God “conducting, regulating, and observing” his prenatal development.[18] Throughout this process, it is important that he does not seem to regard this as merely the development of his physical body, but of himself as a person. The proliferation of first-person suffixes throughout this passage attests to that; the psalmist envisions not merely his developing body within the womb, but his developing self. In other words, the essence of who he both is and is yet to be, resides within the womb in fullness of life and personality.

Ward discounts this passage as having any bearing on the abortion discussion whatsoever. He argues that the psalmist’s emphasis is upon God’s foreknowledge and nothing more. “This in no way suggests that he [the psalmist] was a nephesh before he was born, but that the Creator knows things and people before they exist.”[19] This objection is surely occasioned by the positing of a fallacious false dilemma, as if this psalm must either emphasize God’s foreknowledge or His creative power. In fact Psalm 139 emphasizes both of these (and His omnipresence as well, vv. 7-12). While the language of intrauterine creation is obviously figurative for God’s superintending the normal formative process of gestation,[20] the psalmist nonetheless sees the intrauterine activity as very much an act of creation. Though his father and mother conceived him, God is his creator.[21] This is confirmed by the verbs employed by the psalmist. God is not depicted here merely as seeing or knowing the unborn psalmist, but as creating him (קָנִיתָ) and weaving him together (תְּסֻכֵּנִי). There is no convincing reason on exegetical grounds to conclude that these verbs, depicting as they do an active and involved Creator-God, are intended by the author merely to signify foreknowledge.

That the emphasis of this psalm is upon God’s sovereignty rather than merely His foreknowledge is also confirmed by its standing within a broader theological theme that pervades the Old Testament: the sovereignty of God in human conception.[22] An ancient Israelite, steeped in the rich traditions of Hebrew narrative, could hardly have read a psalm such as this without recalling to his mind how God’s power was manifested in the conceptions of Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Samson, and Samuel. Relatedly, it bears mentioning that God’s sovereignty is made manifest in the closing of wombs as well, such as had occurred to the women of the household of Abimelech, king of Gerar.[23] With this theological theme so pervasive in the Old Testament and so essential to the very historical foundations of Israel as a people group, it is hard to imagine any legitimate reading of Psalm 139:13-16 that fails to emphasize God’s sovereignty. The birth of a child is often colloquially referred to as a “miracle,” but from a biblical perspective such a designation is actually highly appropriate. Moreover, the term “miracle” may properly be extended not only to a child’s birth, but also to his or her conception, as both fall under the purview of the sovereign superintendence of God Himself.

The point is this: if this passage emphasizes God’s sovereignty and His creative power rather than merely His foreknowledge, then it follows that vv. 13-15 describe the psalmist’s creation event, which is attributed directly to the hand of God. And if the psalmist may be described as having been created by God while he was still within the womb, then that fixes the moment of his life’s beginning at sometime prior to birth. In fact, the mention of the embryonic state (גָּלְמִי) in v. 16 would seem to imply that this creation event, the beginning of the psalmist’s life, is envisioned as taking place quite early during the gestation process, as גֹלֶם seems to connote a substance that is as yet not completely formed (Holladay and Köhler, s.v. “גֹּלֶם”).


Jeremiah 1:4-8

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,  (5)  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  (6)  Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”  (7)  But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  (8)  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.”

The historical context surrounding this passage is provided in vv. 1-3. Jeremiah introduces his account by reporting that the word of Yahweh came to him both during the reign of King Josiah (in the thirteenth year of his reign) and later during the reign of King Zedekiah. Presumably, the revelation transcribed in vv. 4ff. occurred during one of those two revelatory periods, most likely the earlier one given the nature of the revelation. In this passage, Yahweh reveals to His prophet that He has had special plans for him since before his birth, indeed since before his existence began. Those who find an anti-abortion implication in this passage tend to point out that the actions of God toward the unborn Jeremiah strongly suggest that Jeremiah possessed full personhood within the womb.

Some protest, however, that this passage has little or no bearing on the abortion debate. Marquis concedes that “aborting Jeremiah would have been contrary to God’s will” given Jer. 1:4-8, but argues that this has more to do with his calling by God than with his moral status as an embryo.[24] Since it is unclear that all embryos have been “called” by God in the sense that Jeremiah was, this passage cannot be indiscriminately applied to all. After all, the emphasis of this passage is not upon the moral status of the unborn, but upon the peculiar importance of Jeremiah given his prenatal “call” to be a prophet. And besides, if God is omniscient to the point of having perfect foreknowledge, then would He not simply refrain from “calling” any fetus that He knew would be aborted?[25] Surely the fact that He called Jeremiah cannot be separated from the fact that He knew Jeremiah would in fact be born.

This argument seems compelling at first, as it focuses upon the text’s primary meaning, but it ultimately fails because it overlooks the fact that a text may (and usuallly does) give rise to legitimate secondary implications beyond the primary meaning. If this were not true then the application of biblical texts to contemporary life would be impossible most of the time, given the contextually-bound and situational nature of Scripture. That this passage does not primarily address the moral status of the unborn is granted, but that does not mean that it does not invariably make certain implications that are relevant to the debate.

Specifically, the implication made is that Jeremiah’s life began prior to his birth, and that implication is made at least twice. First, it is said that Yahweh “formed” (אֶצָּורְךָ) Jeremiah in the womb. This language is reminiscent of Ps. 139:13, and the comments made concerning that verse apply here as well. Interestingly, the word used here to describe Yahweh’s creative intrauterine activity is a form of יָצַר, the same word used in Gen. 2:7-8 to describe the creation of Adam.[26] Due to the conceptual parallels between these two passages (both describe the formation of a human male, and attribute it to God), it is altogether possible that Jeremiah alluded to Gen. 2:7-8 here intentionally. Note that Yahweh does not claim to have formed only Jeremiah’s body in the womb, but to have formed Jeremiah himself; the second-person suffix signifies this in the MT, and comes across into the LXX as the personal pronoun σε.[27]

Second, Yahweh claims to have “consecrated” (הִקְדַּשְׁתִּיךָ) Jeremiah prior to his birth. Again, the second-person suffix suggests that this consecration extended to Jeremiah himself rather than merely to his body. This constitutes strong evidence for the argument that life begins prior to birth, as that is precisely when this consecration is said to have taken place. In other words, if Yahweh consecrated Jeremiah for service while he was still in the womb, then it stands to reason that he was more than simply a cluster of impersonal cells at that point. Now the point may be raised that consecration (from קָדַשׁ) does not require a personal direct object, but is oftentimes used to describe inanimate objects that have been set apart for the Lord’s use.[28] Does this observation allow the prenatal Jeremiah to be viewed as a non-personal entity? In the final analysis it does not, as the specific aim of that consecration is explicated at the end of v. 5: “I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” While sacred days, sacred buildings, sacred vessels, and sacred furniture are able to be consecrated in various ways, they cannot in any case be consecrated for the ministry of “prophet to the nations.” Such a consecration requires that its object be a living sentient life-form, not an inanimate object.

The other objection to the pro-life reading of this passage comes from Ward, and consists of little more than a reiteration of his argument against a pro-life reading of Psalm 139. Again, Ward asserts that this passage is focused merely upon God’s foreknowledge, and therefore has nothing to contribute to the abortion debate.[29] As before, this is fallacious insofar as any verse is capable of having more than one focus. Foreknowledge is indeed emphasized in this passage, but so is God’s calling of Jeremiah, which is clearly a more active enterprise than mere cognitive perception.[30] In fact, as Feinberg points out, this passage depicts God performing no fewer than four actions with regard to Jeremiah: He knew him, formed him, consecrated him, and appointed him.[31] The first action does not have much bearing on the abortion debate per se because it takes place prior to Jeremiah’s being formed (and, as Ward argues, because it concerns merely foreknowledge), but the second action explicitly describes God as forming Jeremiah within the womb, and the remaining two actions (which appear to be an instance of hendiadys) presuppose that the prenatal Jeremiah is a living being. Therefore, this passage supports the notion that human life begins prior to birth.




Luke 1:39-45

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah,  (40)  and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  (41)  And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,  (42)  and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  (43)  And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  (44)  For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  (45)  And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

This pericope recounts the first post-conception meeting of two pregnant cousins, Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth is pregnant with John the Baptist while Mary is pregnant with Jesus Christ, and both pregnancies were announced beforehand by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:5-38). This passage provides interesting insight into the Bible’s view of the unborn and furnishes strong evidence for the notion that human life begins prior to birth. Two lines of argument support this contention.

First, as soon as Elizabeth is greeted by Mary, the fetus John leaps within Elizabeth’s womb. This seems to imply some level of consciousness, no doubt engendered by the fact that John has been filled with the Holy Spirit (cf. Luke 1:15).[32] From its placement in the flow of the narrative, it is clear that this fetal motion is not random, but comes in direct response to Mary’s arrival.[33] This kind of intrauterine response to external stimuli suggests that the fetus is in fact a living person. Notably, Elizabeth has only been pregnant for about six months at the time of this pericope, so that would seem to fix the terminus ad quem for the beginning of human life at six months.

As with the other passages surveyed, the pro-life reading of this one has not escaped criticism. The counter-argument can be made that the main characters with which the narrative is principally concerned at this point are Mary and Elizabeth, not the unborn John and Jesus. Therefore, this passage should not be used to equate John-the-fetus with John-the-person.[34] This argument is terribly unconvincing. For one thing, although the narrative does indeed feature Mary and Elizabeth at this point, it nevertheless pauses to emphasize the fetal motion of John as a joyful prelude to Elizabeth’s Spirit-filling, whereby she obtains immediate insight into the identity of Mary’s unborn child.[35] Therefore, the action is important to the narrator and fits naturally into the sounding events. If the movement were simply a random fetal motion such as occurs normally throughout a pregnancy, then why does Luke bother to record it here?

For another thing, within the broader context of Luke’s Gospel, the principal characters are not Elizabeth and Mary but Jesus Himself, with John the Baptist serving as His forerunner. As crude as it may sound, the only real purpose for Elizabeth and Mary at this point in the narrative is to serve as conduits for the entry of John the Baptist and Jesus into the world. Therefore, it seems most congruous with Luke’s purpose and the broader context of his Gospel to adopt Davis’ interpretation of the movement of John the Baptist: it is “an intrauterine response to Jesus, newly conceived in the womb of Mary.”[36] This is supported by v. 44, which depicts the fetus’ leaping as a result of the coming of the presence of Jesus (carried in Mary’s womb) to Elizabeth’s home (note the causal γὰρ).

An additional argument in support of the view that John’s fetal motion implies prenatal consciousness comes from the lexical definition of σκιρτάω, translated “leaped” here. This word does not denote just any random act of leaping, but specifically the act of leaping as a result of great joy. BDAG defines σκιρτάω thus: “Exuberant springing motion, [to] leap, [to] spring about as a sign of joy” (BDAG, s.v. “σκιρτάω”). That being the case, Luke seems to be ascribing not only some level of consciousness but also of emotion to the unborn John, which supports the pro-life reading.

The second line of argumentation in favor of the pro-life reading comes not from the unborn John in this passage, but from the unborn Jesus. First, if Davis is right in interpreting John’s fetal motion as a response to the presence of the unborn Jesus, then that would mean that Jesus Himself possesses a personal identity at this point, one that is recognizable through the filling of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, since personal identity does not precede life, this would support the view that life begins prior to birth.

Second, Elizabeth’s Spirit-inspired outburst twice projects personality onto the unborn Jesus. First, in v. 42 Elizabeth ascribes blessedness not only to Mary, but also to the “fruit of [her] womb.” Jesus is not yet born, and the sentence’s grammar demands that this blessedness must be a present reality, not a prediction of future status. Furthermore, given the parallelism between Jesus’ blessedness and Mary’s, it stands to reason that they are both blessed in the same manner. This places Jesus-the-fetus on equal ground existentially speaking with Mary-the-mature-adult. The implications for the abortion debate are not difficult to grasp.

Second, in v. 43 Elizabeth expresses how overwhelmed she is that “the mother of my Lord would come to me.” If Mary is recognized as a mother at this point when her first child is still developing in utero, then that assumes her unborn baby is a living person. Furthermore, the personal identity of the unborn Jesus is again implied in Elizabeth’s use of the phrase τοῦ κυρίου μου to describe Him. This is clearly the language of subordination, if not of outright worship. It would seem strange indeed for Elizabeth to subordinate herself to a non-living, non-personal mass of cells. It could perhaps be argued that Elizabeth’s dialogue embedded in narrative cannot be used to determine biblical doctrine conclusively as her speech merely reflects the medical understanding of the day, but such an objections misses Luke’s divinely-inspired characterization of Elizabeth’s verbal outburst. He does not depict it as a casual conversation or an ordinary, spontaneous discussion, but as words that arise as a direct result of the filling of the Holy Spirit (vv. 41b-42a). Therefore, the content of her speech is supplied directly by the Holy Spirit. This does not reflect merely Elizabeth’s view of prenatal ontology; it reflects the view of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. Thus, it cannot be so easily dismissed.

One final observation on this passage bears mentioning. Assuming the second line of argument for the pro-life reading is valid and Jesus is regarded as a living person in the present pericope, it must be stressed that this meeting takes place very shortly after His conception. Therefore, the terminus ad quem for the beginning of human life would have to be shifted back from six months’ gestation (the age of the fetal John) to significantly less than that, probably to within the first month of gestation (cf. Luke 1:36, 39). Of the various options typically advanced for the moment when life begins, this observation would limit feasibility to conception, segmentation, or implantation; the first recognizable brain activity (at six weeks) or the fetus’ quickening (at thirteen to twenty weeks) is too late.





While there is no one locus classicus in the Bible on the topic of abortion and while no biblical passage may be said to address the topic directly, there is nevertheless a significant body of biblical teaching that addresses the topic by implication. Most of these passages contain implications specifically for the subject of when life begins, which is convenient and relevant since that would appear to be the central issue around which the abortion debate revolves. The moment at which life begins would seem logically to correspond to the moment at which an individual attains moral rights and protections, and the weight of biblical teaching appears to fix this moment at some point prior to birth.

Several biblical arguments have been advanced to support this view. First, the fact that the law of lex talionis applies to the unborn establishes their moral status. Second, God is depicted as creating the psalmist and forming his internal organs within his mother’s womb, and also as looking with concern on the psalmist in his embryonic state. Third, God tells Jeremiah that He consecrated him for the ministry of prophecy before he was born, thus signifying personhood before birth. Fourth, both John the Baptist and Jesus are described in terms suggesting personhood prior to their births. When taken together, these arguments suggest that the uniform biblical view on the status of the unborn is that they come to life prior to birth. Furthermore, the fourth and final argument strongly implies that this moment occurs prior to the sixth month of gestation at the latest, and probably even prior to the end of the first month of gestation.

In light of these arguments, abortion would still remain an ethically viable (though not necessarily ethically praiseworthy!) option for anyone who chooses to deny that the Bible is in any way morally authoritative or ethically binding. But for those that regard the Bible as Holy Scripture, the almost inevitable conclusion must be that abortion is an unethical and immoral practice completely at odds with God’s own view of the unborn. Therefore, for an adherent to the Bible’s teachings to support, engage in, or voluntarily receive an abortion, is tantamount to violating one’s own ethical standard.










Allen, Leslie C. Psalms 101-150. Waco: Word Books, 1983.


Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.


Bullock, C. Hassell. “Abortion and Old Testament Prophetic and Poetic Literature.” In Abortion: a Christian Understanding and Response, edited by James K Hoffmeier, 65–71. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987.


Congdon, Robert N. “Exodus 21:22-25 and the Abortion Debate.” Bibliotheca Sacra 146, no. 582 (June 1989): 132–147.


Davis, John Jefferson. “The Moral Status of the Embryonic Human: Religious Perspectives.” Ethics & Medicine 22, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 9–21.


Dyer, Charles H. “Jeremiah.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 1123–1206. Old Testament ed. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985.


Feinberg, Charles L. “Jeremiah.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, 6:355–691. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.


Geisler, Norman L. Christian Ethics. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.


Holladay, William Lee, and Ludwig Köhler. A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Leiden: Brill, 1971.


Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. “Exodus.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein. 2:285–497. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.


———. What Does the Lord Require? Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

Keil, C. F., and F. Delitzsch. The Pentateuch. Translated by James Martin. Vol. 2. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949.


Kline, Meredith G. “Lex Talionis and the Human Fetus.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 20, no. 3 (Spring 1977): 193–201.


Layton, Scott. “An Exegesis of Exodus 21 22-25 in the Light of Ancient Near Eastern Law.” ThM thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979.


Liefeld, Walter L. “Luke.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, 8:797–1059. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.


Marquis, Don. “Abortion and the Beginning and End of Human Life.” The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 34, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 16–25.

Marshall, I. Howard. “Luke.” In New Bible Commentary, edited by G. J. Wenham, J. A. Motyer, D. A. Carson, and R. T. France, 978–1020. 4th ed. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1994.


Martin, John A. “Luke.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 199–265. New Testament ed. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983.


McConville, Gordon. “Jeremiah.” In New Bible Commentary, edited by G. J. Wenham, J. A. Motyer, D. A. Carson, and R. T. France, 671–708. 4th ed. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1994.


Morris, Leon. Luke. The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1988.


Naden, Corinne J. Abortion. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2007.


Reagan, Michael, and Jim Denney. The New Reagan Revolution. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2010.


Ross, Allen P. “Psalms.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 779–899. Old Testament ed. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985.


Sprinkle, Joe M. “The Interpretation of Exodus 21:22-25 (Lex Talionis) and Abortion.” Westminster Theological Journal 55, no. 1 (1993): 233–253.


Ward, Roy Bowen. “The Use of the Bible in the Abortion Debate.” Saint Louis University Public Law Review 13, no. 1 (February 1993): 391–408.


[1] Corinne J. Naden, Abortion (Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2007), 30.


[2] Michael Reagan and Jim Denney, The New Reagan Revolution (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2010), 201.

[3] Except where otherwise noted, all English Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV), Copyright Crossway Bibles, 2001. The Hebrew text of the Old Testament utilized is Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), Copyright German Bible Society, 1996. The Greek text of the New Testament utilized is Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, 27th Edition (NA27), Copyright Deutsche Bibelgeselschaft, 1998.

[4] Joe M. Sprinkle, “The Interpretation of Exodus 21:22-25 (Lex Talionis) and Abortion,” Westminster Theological Journal 55, no. 1 (1993): 234-236.


[5] Ibid., 237-243.


[6] Scott Layton, “An Exegesis of Exodus 21 22-25 in the Light of Ancient Near Eastern Law” (ThM thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979), 12-13.


[7] Meredith G. Kline, “Lex Talionis and the Human Fetus,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 20, no. 3 (Spring 1977): 194.


[8] Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., What Does the Lord Require? (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 113.

[9] Joe M. Sprinkle, “The Interpretation of Exodus 21:22-25 (Lex Talionis) and Abortion,” 253.

[10] Robert N. Congdon, “Exodus 21:22-25 and the Abortion Debate,” Bibliotheca Sacra 146, no. 582 (June 1989): 138.


[11] Ibid.


[12] Joe M. Sprinkle, “The Interpretation of Exodus 21:22-25 (Lex Talionis) and Abortion,”, 249.


[13] Ibid.


[14] Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. “Exodus,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, 2:285–497 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 434.


[15] C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, translated by James Martin, vol. 2, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), 135.


[16] Meredith G. Kline, “Lex Talionis and the Human Fetus,” 199.

[17] C. Hassell Bullock, “Abortion and Old Testament Prophetic and Poetic Literature,” in Abortion: a Christian Understanding and Response, edited by James K Hoffmeier, 65–71 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), 68.


[18] Ibid.


[19] Roy Bowen Ward, “The Use of the Bible in the Abortion Debate,” Saint Louis University Public Law Review 13, no. 1 (February 1993): 398.


[20] Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 779–899, Old Testament ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 892.


[21] Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (Waco: Word Books, 1983), 162.


[22] John Jefferson Davis, “The Moral Status of the Embryonic Human: Religious Perspectives,” Ethics & Medicine 22, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 12.


[23] Ibid., 12-13.

[24] Don Marquis, “Abortion and the Beginning and End of Human Life,” The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 34, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 22.


[25] Ibid., 23.

[26] Charles L. Feinberg, “Jeremiah,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, 6:355–691 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 384.


[27] Norman L. Geisler, Christian Ethics, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010), 148.


[28] Charles H. Dyer, “Jeremiah,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 1123–1206, Old Testament ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 1130.


[29] Roy Bowen Ward, “The Use of the Bible in the Abortion Debate,” 398.


[30] Gordon McConville, “Jeremiah,” In New Bible Commentary, edited by G. J. Wenham, J. A. Motyer, D. A. Carson, and R. T. France, 671–708, 4th ed. (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1994), 675.


[31] Charles L. Feinberg, “Jeremiah,” 383.

[32] John A. Martin, “Luke,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 199–265, New Testament ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983), 204.


[33] I. Howard Marshall, “Luke,” in New Bible Commentary, edited by G. J. Wenham, J. A. Motyer, D. A. Carson, and R. T. France, 978–1020, 4th ed. (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1994), 983.


[34] Roy Bowen Ward, “The Use of the Bible in the Abortion Debate,” 401. He appears to be supported (perhaps inadvertently) by Leon Morris, Luke, The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1988), 82.


[35] Walter L. Liefeld, “Luke,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Frank E. Gaebelein, 8:797–1059 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 834.


[36] John Jefferson Davis, “The Moral Status of the Embryonic Human: Religious Perspectives,” 15.

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