Greater or Lesser Harm
The ancient Greek cult of the Kriophoros is captured in the image of the ram-bearer’ and can teach us something about the nature of harm. The Kriophoros is also foundational in Early Christian Art (http://albertis-window.com/2017/03/the-mosocophoros-kriophoros-and-early-christian-art/). In the ancient world, the imagery and metaphor of sheep was used as a medium for understanding life. You can see images of the Kriophoros on the Acropolis. The symbol of the shepherd carrying the lamb on their shoulders was attributed to the myth of Hermes cult (500 BC) but later was adopted into Christian mythology. The image of the Kriophorus can be found in the catacombs.
Like many things in transition from Greek, Roman and to Christian traditions, there was much mingling of symbols, cults and myths in the first Century. Much of the theology at the time was an amalgam of cults and symbols.
The idea of carrying the lamb on shoulders is that it had wandered away from the flock, and was in danger of being killed by wolves. So, the good shepherd wanders out to find the lost sheep and in order to stop it’s wandering, breaks its leg and carries it back to the flock. Here the lamb recovers in safety under the protection of the flock and the shepherd. Hence the act of harm was understood as an act of protection. By the third and fourth century, the Kriophoros has become an orthodox Christian tradition and was used to understand the early Christian gospels use of the sheep and lamb metaphor.
There are fascinating links between the myth of the Kriophoros and Aries in Astrology and zodiac symbology. Hermes is mentioned in the Illiad as the protector of sheep.
Regardless of the amalgam of cultic symbology brought into Christianity, it has always been accepted in Christian theology, that harm is not wrong. Indeed, that good can come out of harm even though it may involve pain and suffering. This was also foundational to the theology of Luther and you can buy ceramic Kriophoros in Wittenberg.
When I was in Logrono, Spain I once was wandering around the town market on a Sunday morning looking for a coffee and to my surprise saw a Kriophoros jumbled amongst a range of trinkets at one of the stalls. So I snapped it up and it now sits in my glass semiotics cupboard. I haven’t seen one since.
The Kriophoros serves as a nice reminder of the syncretism of ideas and the notion that harm is not bad. Many a time I have experienced pain and suffering at the hands of a doctor, for my good. Of course, the idea of zero harm is a key element in the cult of Transhumanism (https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-3-030-16920-6 ) that presents the idea, that one day fallible humans will never die. The only other cult that sustains this delusion is safety.