Biblical Archaeology Review 43:5, September/October 2017

Biblical Views: Reevaluating Biblical Infertility

By Joel S. BadenCandida R. Moss

“Be fruitful and multiply”—these are the first words God speaks to humanity in the Bible (Genesis 1:28). For many interpreters and religious communities, ancient and modern, they have been taken as a command to procreate, and procreation has been understood as a primary divine directive. But these words can read very differently to those who are unable to have children. Are they somehow in violation of the divine directive—or are they somehow cursed with infertility? This is a common view both in faith communities and in critical scholarship: that, in the Bible, infertility, like other physical impairments, is somehow a punishment for sin. In our book Reconceiving Infertility: Biblical Perspectives on Procreation and Childlessness, we push back against this reading.1

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