I didn't know almost any of that, and much is surprising, too.
Maybe you'll further indulge my curiosity here?
Pseudonym wrote:probably ubiquitous in the ancient European world prior to Greek civilisation, probably for reasons related to hygiene.
What do base that suggestion on? Do you happen to have a reference off the top of your, ummm... readily available?
Pseudonym wrote:Circumcision was essentially re-introduced because it was believed to be a treatment for masturbation
This, too, is a surprise. I'll google the history of circumcision. Maybe my questions can be answered there.
With the possible exception of Jim, I'd imagine that the treatment works unfailingly! For a couple of days, that is.
Pseudonym wrote:So actually, the prevalence of circumcision in the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th century English-speaking world is arguably due to over-eager medicine, not religion.
But, of course, you may as well ask this question of any type of cultural body modification, including ear piercing and armpit shaving.
Getting waaaayy off topic, I would have thought that armpit shaving might have originated as a cosmetic / olfactory practice, say, in harems with belly dancers (ahhhh, the thought of it ) rather than as some sort of medical or hygienic thing. This could be another bit of historical "news of the weird."
Pseudonym wrote:Brad wrote:While there are apparently some potential health benefits to circumcision, [...]
I have to wonder about correlation and causation here. Circumcision is, obviously, a practice which is seen more in Jews and Muslims. These are groups who may practice stricter sexual hygiene for cultural reasons, as a general rule.
So then you'd agree with me, though I only alluded to this earlier, that the focus on circumcision in the Hebrew bible was born of cultural dispositions and control needs rather than from actual mandates by a Hebrew-speaking deity? And the same for Muslims, though rather second-hand through the Abrahamic zeitgeist of the seventh century Middle-East?