25,179 오늘방문자수 : 6,821 / 전체방문자수 : 30,553,587
 
 
 
공지게시판
채식뉴스(News)
가입인사
질문과답(Q&A)
채식일기
자유게시판
잦은문답(FAQ)
전국채식식당,제품,서적
채식요리
블로그(채식요리)
블로그(채식식당)
채식급식
유명채식인
동영상TV(생명존중)
동영상TV(건강과식품)
동영상TV(환경생태)
동영상TV(명상종교)
동영상TV(일반종합)
동영상TV(음악)
동영상TV(요리)
동영상TV(애니메이션)
동영상TV(English)
영문자료(English)
첨부하기
후원하기
jesusveg.com(FAQ)
한채연 2007-09-20 12:38:07

Did God give humans dominion over animals?

Historically, the Scriptures have been used to justify slavery, child abuse, spousal abuse, and polygamy, so we must be careful not to misuse them to justify animal cruelty.

According to the book of Genesis, God created animals, including human beings, on the sixth day. In Genesis 1:28, God says: "Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." Immediately after, in Genesis 1:29, God states: "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food." Whatever the word that is translated as "dominion" means, it does not mean that we have a right to eat animals. In fact, most theologians recognize that this word is more accurately translated as "stewardship" and that the meaning of this text is that humans are supposed to be stewards and guardians, protecting and respecting the beings with whom we share the gift of creation.

Theologian Rev. Andrew Linzey states, "We need a concept of ourselves in the universe not as the master species but as the servant species--as the one given responsibility for the whole and the good of the whole. We must move from the idea that animals were given to us and made for us to the idea that we were made for creation, to serve it and ensure its continuance. This actually is little more than the theology of Genesis Chapter Two. The garden is made beautiful and abounds with life: Humans are created specifically to take care of it."

Genesis 9, the text often cited as justification for eating animals, is recognized by most theologians as either a very temporary post-flood concession (all vegetation had been destroyed) or as a concession to human sinfulness (Genesis 9 is also used to justify slavery). St. Jerome wrote: "As to the argument that in God's second blessing (Gen 9:3), permission was given to eat flesh--a permission not given in the first blessing (Gen 1:29)--let him know that just as permission to put away a wife was, according to the words of the Savior, not given from the beginning, but was granted to the human race by Moses because of the hardness of our hearts (Mt 19), so also in like manner the eating of flesh was unknown until the Flood ..."

No matter how one views God's original intent, the complete disdain afforded animals who are turned into food is absolutely heretical. The fact is that human beings are playing God with animals, genetically breeding them to grow so quickly that their hearts, lungs, and limbs can often not keep up. God's creatures have their bodies mutilated without painkillers, their natural desires totally thwarted, and their every need and desire entirely ignored. At the end of their miserable lives, they are trucked through all weather extremes, without food or water, to a violent, bloody, totally ignoble death. Humans are playing God with animals, and ethical people should have no part in it.


If God doesn't ordain meat-eating, why are there so many laws about what meat is and isn't clean, and why doesn't Jesus condemn meat-eating outright?

The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament):
There are "kosher laws," just as there are laws governing war-making and slavery.The kosher laws are so strict in order to discourage the consumption of animals. A God who is loving, compassionate, and merciful does not condone human beings killing or enslaving one another, and also does not condone animal exploitation. The kosher, slave, and war-making laws are intended to make war, slavery, and meat-eating less violent than the practices of the time. For example, the Scriptures tell us not to eat animals while they are still alive, which thus prohibits the practice, common at the time, of slicing off pieces of living animals (e.g., camels' humps) while keeping the animal alive and in excruciating pain.

The Hebrew Scriptures have been used over the years to justify many cruel and violent practices (such as spousal and child abuse, slavery, and war). It is unfortunate that they continue to be used to justify animal exploitation. To learn more about the Hebrew Scriptures and vegetarianism, please read "The Case for Jewish Vegetarianism."

The Christian Scriptures (New Testament):


In the four Gospels which are included in our Canon, Jesus is not seen condemning slavery, subjugation of women and children, or many other injustices. And thus, these and other injustices have been justified by Christians over the years. But Jesus' central message, of mercy and compassion, cannot be reconciled with violence toward people or animals."

And make no mistake about it, the way animals are treated today is completely merciless. Animals on factory farms are treated like machines. Within days of birth, for example, chickens have their beaks seared off with a hot blade. Male cows and pigs are castrated without painkillers. All of these animals spend their brief lives in crowded and ammonia-filled conditions, many of them so cramped that they can't even turn around or spread a wing. Many do not get a breath of fresh air until they are prodded and crammed onto trucks for a nightmarish ride to the slaughterhouse, often through weather extremes and always without food or water. The animals are hung upside down and their throats are sliced open, often while they're fully conscious. For more information, visit PETA's vegetarian Web site: www.meatstinks.com, or their anti-dairy site: www.milksucks.com.


I understand that many Christians don't believe that Jesus necessarily was a vegetarian, but embrace veganism because God's plan is one of love and peace. How can they advocate vegetarianism if they don't believe Jesus was a vegetarian?

In Is God a Vegetarian? (Open Court, 1998), Dr. Richard Alan Young, a professor at Temple Baptist Seminary in Tennessee, discounts the arguments that Jesus was a vegetarian, as does Rev. Andrew Linzey, author of many books on animal rights and Christianity (e.g. Animal Theology). They still argue, however, that Christians should attempt to live God's nonviolent vision here on earth, embracing compassion for animals. The arguments center on the concept of eschatology.

Eschaton means "end time." Scholars such as Linzey and Young embrace vegetarianism because they see the vegetarian garden of Eden and the vegetarian vision of the prophets (e.g., Isaiah's Chapter 11) as the vision for which we are called to live when we pray the Lord's prayer ("Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven").

Also, they note, Jesus' entire being was one of compassion, love, and mercy. At his sermon on the Mount, he states "Blessed are the merciful." The chronicle of his works is an account of the ultimate merciful man. "Have compassion," he tells us, "as God has compassion."

The world today is a violent place. As Christians, each of us can choose to add to that violence, suffering, and misery, or to withdraw our support for such violence and pain. We know that all animals feel love, loneliness, fear, and a range of other emotions. But more importantly, we know that they feel pain and have the capacity to suffer.

Today, animals raised for food live miserable lives and die violent bloody deaths. For example, pigs are castrated without painkillers and forced to live in factory stalls no bigger than their bodies. After a 20-week life of utter misery, they are loaded onto transport trucks like so many boxes in a warehouse and taken through weather extremes, without food and water. Sometimes, they freeze to the metal sides of the trucks in winter. At the slaughterhouse, they are hung upside down by one leg and their throats are slit, often while they are fully conscious. Although Linzey, Young, and most other eschatology-focused Christians embrace animal rights and liberation as central to their faith in the liberating nature of both Jesus and God, they also point out how violent, bloody, and cruel today's farming conditions have become, noting that these conditions did not apply to fishing in the sea of Galilee. Christians, they say, should follow the compassionate Christ by being vegetarians.

As Christians, we make a very basic choice, day in and day out, to take part in the torture and death of animals for food--or not to do so. At the very least, we should all stop eating animals, and there are a host of other steps we can take. As you do to the least, you do to Him.

Or to quote Professor young, "If God is both liberator and Creator, then God would want all creation to be liberated from oppression just like the Israelites were liberated. How could the God of the exodus ever sanction oppression against those of differing social standing, gender, race, or even species?"


I believe that the Bible is literally true, that it is God speaking through human beings. So that means Jesus ate fish after the resurrection and fed them to people in the multiplication miracle. Also, it means that Paul tells me it's OK to eat animals. And God sure kills a lot of animals (and human beings). Why should I be a vegetarian?

Please read our answers (in the Frequently Asked Questions section) to the questions related to Jesus' consumption of fish, Paul's statements about eating animals, and the presentation of God in the Hebrew Scriptures. We think that you may be swayed to see these Scriptures in a new light.

All that aside, Jesus clearly calls his followers to lives of gentleness mercy, purity of heart, justice, and peacemaking (e.g., Matthew 5: 5-9). There is so much violence and injustice in the world, from wars in faroff lands to violence in the inner cities here at home, and most of it is not easily dealt with by us as individuals.

But one area where each of us can definitely choose mercy, justice, compassion, and gentleness, is at the dinner table. As one simple example, chickens today are crammed into giant sheds with tens of thousands of other chickens, each with less space for movement than a standard sheet of paper. Their beaks are chopped off with a hot iron, causing many to starve to death because eating becomes so painful. After six weeks, they're loaded onto trucks and carted to slaughter, without food or water and through all weather extremes--many dying of heat exhaustion or by freezing to death. Finally, they are shackled and their throats slit, often while they are fully conscious. By the time they reach the slaughterhouse, 90 percent of chickens have suffered broken legs or bone deformities. Lives are similar for cows, pigs, turkeys, and other animals raised for food.

Every time we sit down to eat, make selections at the grocery store, or order food from a menu, we make a choice: Do we want to add to the level of misery and death in the world, or do we want to make a compassionate, merciful dietary choice? Do we choose misery or mercy, life or death? The Christian choice should be for mercy and life--a vegetarian diet.

For information on the health, environmental, and animal welfare impacts of animal agriculture, please visit PETA's new vegetarian Web site, www.GoVeg.com.


Paul's letters to Timothy (first letter, chapter 4) and to the Romans (chapter 14) say that all food is good to eat. He also calls abstinence from meat a false teaching. How do you reconcile vegetarianism with these teachings?

Using Paul's letters to justify eating meat betrays a misunderstanding of what Paul was saying. Paul's commentary on eating meat serves a specific historical purpose, just like his teachings on marriage and slavery. Viewed in context, Paul's writings support vegetarianism.

Recall that Paul's writings have been used over the years to justify all manner of evils, from slavery to spousal and child abuse to the Western expansion and slaughter of Native Americans. We must be careful not to misuse Paul's writings to justify the gross abuse of animals inherent in raising and slaughtering them for food.

Some vegetarian Biblical scholars simply note that the author of First Timothy says that "all food is lawful." Animals are not food, they note, but living creatures of God in their own right. The food given to humanity by God is the food of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:29) and the food of heaven, where "no one will harm or destroy over my holy mountain, for as water fills the sea, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord" (Isaiah 11). There will be no slaughterhouses in heaven.

It is crucial to recall that in all of his letters, Paul is writing to specific communities at a specific period in history, as is clear from his writings with regard to slavery and a woman's place in the congregation, which make sense in historical context, but have been misused for many years. Much in the scriptures attempts to address specific issues facing the early Church and must be understood within that framework. The letters to Timothy, written not by Paul but by one of his disciples 60 to 150 years after Paul's martyrdom, are good examples.

Vegetarianism was a hot topic in the early Church, as it has been ever since, with many Christians abstaining from meat for fear of eating meat offered to idols. Others abstained in order to affirm a God of compassion, the God of Genesis 1 and the prophetic vision of Isaiah 11, as addressed in our question on eschatology. Still others abstained because they believed material creation to be evil. It is only the vegetarianism of self-denial, abstinence from meat based on a belief in bodily impurity, which Paul disdains as heresy, as in First Timothy.

Any introduction to First Timothy, or even the brief notes in a study Bible, explain that among many early Christians were some who "despised everything concerning the body," and out of this they opposed marriage, drinking wine, and eating meat. They also instituted practices such as self-flagellation and nonstop fasting of one sort or another. It is this "ascetical vegetarianism" which is being condemned by the author of First Timothy.

Vegetarianism for others was an affirmation, rather than a rejection, of God's creation, and would thus be acceptable. As Dr. Richard Alan Young explains in Is God a Vegetarian, "The author [of First Timothy] condemns only those who turn vegetarianism into an absolute law because they believe that the physical creation is evil. … Within the Pauline tradition, it would have been perfectly acceptable to abstain for the right reasons" (p. 117).

Bible Scholar John Davidson concurs. Commenting on the use of First Timothy as a blanket rejection of vegetarianism in The Gospel of Jesus: In Search of His Original Teachings, he states that "The justification for eating meat…is a parody of logic and compassion. One could apply the same reasoning to anything in the world that one desired--that God had created it so it must be all right to eat it, indulge in it, possess it, and so on. This comment is also quite the reverse of Paul's attitude in which he recommends vegetarianism if eating meat seems to upset someone" (p. 941).

Apparently, Paul both adopted and advocated a vegetarian diet, as shown in his first letter to the Corinthians (chapter 8) and his letter to the Romans (chapter 14). Commenting on First Corinthians, chapter 8, Vaclavik explains that "Paul is here clearly stating that, if his habit of eating meat causes dissent among the Christian fellowship … he will cease eating meat from that day forward" (p. 309).

Some suggest that Paul was a vegetarian for the "wrong" reasons. However, as Davidson explains, "Paul was expecting the imminent end of the world" (p. 941). Thus, Paul's writings and practice focus on inclusivity and immediate salvation. Paul accommodates slave owners (e.g., I Corinthians 7:20-24, Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, I Timothy 6:1-2, Titus 2:9-10, Philemon 1) and meat-eaters, despite the direct contradiction of meat-eating and slavery with Jesus' counsel that human beings should be compassionate and merciful.

Young concludes, "From God's approval of creation (Genesis 1:31) to God's redemption of all creation (Romans 8:19-21), we learn that the created world is good and is to be valued for its own sake. Just as the early Church denounced those who devalued creation, the church today should denounce animal abuse wherever it is found, for it too debases God's good creation. Ironic as it may seem, the devaluing of animals by the Gnostics lead to a very strict form of vegetarianism, whereas the devaluing of animals today leads to an unrestrained eating of meat" (p. 119).

In summary, a vegetarian diet is in much better keeping with the life-affirming spirit of Paul's teachings than with one that supports the violence and disrespect for God's creatures inherent in a meat-inclusive diet.



Why don't we have a passage reading, "Thou shalt not eat meat," or a clear statement that Jesus didn't eat animal flesh?

It is helpful to remember, reading the Bible, that it was written by a variety of divinely inspired human authors, each part with a specific purpose, for a specific community, in a specific time period. The Christian Scriptures (New Testament) are the product of three centuries of intellectual and spiritual discussion and dissent among early Christians. The books were transcribed, again and again, over three centuries, often losing original meaning and taking on new meaning. Also, the texts which were finally chosen for inclusion in the Canon (the 27 books we now call the "New Testament") were picked in the fourth century, and there are a variety of texts written at the time (and earlier) that didn't make it into the Canon.

As Rev. Ernie Bringas explains in Going by the Book, "We do not possess, nor have we ever possessed, any of [the original writings of the Christian Scriptures]. They were lost or destroyed early on. What we do possess are copies of these books, most of them incomplete and several times removed from the originals …" (p. 173). (For a further discussion of how scholars determine what is authentic teaching, please visit the Popular Question, "How can you use scripture to prove that Jesus was a vegetarian, while discounting scripture that disagrees with your assessment?")

While it is true that we don't have an unequivocal "Thou shalt not eat meat" commandment, Jesus' most famous saying, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy" certainly endorses the vegetarian diet and arguably requires it, considering what we know about slaughterhouses and factory farms. Can anyone imagine Jesus working in a slaughterhouse? Of course not.

The Garden of Eden, God's perfect world, was vegetarian (Gen. 1:29-30). Immediately, God calls this ideal and non-exploitative relationship "good" (Gen. 1:31). This is the one time when God makes such a statement. There follow many years of fallen humanity, when people held slaves, waged war, ate animals, and committed various other violent acts. Although there are passages in the Scriptures that endorse eating animals, war, slavery, polygamy, animal sacrifice, and other practices that most people find immoral, these passages are a representation of what existed as a part of fallen humanity, not of God's ideal plan or vision. Despite the fall, the prophets tell us to expect a new age, a return to Eden, God's peaceable kingdom, when even the lion will lie down with the lamb and there will be no bloodshed or violence at all, "for the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of God" (Isaiah 11).

Most of us would agree that harming a dog or cat is unethical--unChristian even. It is both rational and Biblically sound to suggest, then, that harming any living being, including cows, chickens, pigs, and fishes, is equally immoral. There will be no factory farms and slaughterhouses in heaven, and Christians, who all pray for God's will "on Earth as it is in heaven," should be trying to live as closely as possible to that vision now. There is so much violence in the world today, and solutions are generally complex and the issues debatable. On this one choice, though, the issue is plain: Do I support cruelty to animals, needless suffering, violence, and death? Or don't I?

Make no mistake about it, on today's factory farms, animals are dehorned, debeaked, and castrated without anesthesia. To maximize profits, they are crowded together in the least space possible and are genetically bred so that most suffer lameness, crippling leg deformities, or bone breaks, because their legs can't keep up with their scientifically enhanced bodies. Finally, they are trucked without food or water, through all weather extremes, to a frightening and hellish death.

Does God love animals, as Jesus says? Does God care about even the lowliest sparrow? Does God's covenant extend to all the animals on land, and the birds in the air, and the fish in the sea, as Genesis tells us? If so, what does it mean that we treat animals so cruelly, with so little thought to the fact that they, too, are beloved by God. For more information on the treatment of animals on factory farms, please visit PETA's vegetarian Web site. Eating animals, dairy products, or eggs simply can't be reconciled with Christian living.


How can you use Scripture to prove that Jesus was a vegetarian, while discounting Scripture that disagrees with your assessment?

There is an adage that says, "The Bible can be used to justify any position." To a degree, that's a fair statement. Reading the Scriptures, one is presented with many messages that can't coexist. That is where theology comes in--making sense of sacred texts, attempting to discern the true meaning of divinity and existence.

Most reputable theologians consider Biblical interpretation to be the product of "progressive revelation"; that is, our understanding develops over time, in the same way that our understanding of science or linguistics or even computers develops over time. There is not one stationary truth, valid for all eternity. For example, 200 years ago, it was considered fine by most to be a slaveholding Christian; 300 years ago, Galileo was sentenced to the torture chamber for his belief that the Earth is not the center of the universe; 500 years ago, Martin Luther declared that Jews' "houses and synagogues should be set on fire" and called for death to Jews who attempt to worship or teach in public. Today, despite Biblical texts that justify these and other atrocities, we understand that the nature of God precludes slavery, torture, and anti-Semitism.

Scholarship and new discoveries, as well as a growing development of ideas, ethics, and common purpose, govern how we view Biblical revelation. God, in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), demands death for all manner of "sins," from adultery to sorcery to cursing one's parents. One story in the book of Numbers tells of a man who gathers wood on the Sabbath stoned to death in front of Moses, "as Yahweh had commanded." Most of the Patriarchs had slaves and multiple wives. Samuel, speaking for God, orders Saul to "kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" (1 Samuel 15). Pope John Paul II has said that any interpretation of Scripture that contradicts a rational understanding of God's goodness and mercy is incorrect.

So, yes, there are Scriptural passages that justify eating and exploiting animals. But there are many more passages that justify killing innocents in war, taking slaves, burning witches, anti-Semitism, and other clearly merciless, violent, and immoral actions. The good news is that there are far more and stronger Biblical arguments for treating all animals, human or not, as fellow creatures of God, worthy of respect and compassion, to be cared for, not exploited, tortured, or killed.

Most of us would agree that harming a dog or cat is unethical--unChristian even. It is both rational and Biblically sound to suggest, then, that harming any living being, including cows, chickens, pigs, and fishes, is equally immoral. A loving and merciful God, the God of the prophets and nonviolent garden of Eden, would not countenance animal abuse. The "Prince of Peace," prophesied in Isaiah, is Jesus Christ, according to Christian tradition. It would be unthinkable for the Prince of Peace to eat animals, considering God's original plan for the garden of Eden and Isaiah's vision of the "end time"--when even the lion will lie down with the lamb, and violence and bloodshed will cease to exist.



Why are there so few scholarly publications advocating Christian vegetarianism?


One area not in dispute among mainstream scholars is that the Christian scriptures (New Testament) should be discussed and studied and that, for example, passages that seem to justify slavery must be viewed in context. For more information on this topic, read the answer to, "If Jesus were a vegetarian, why don't we have a passage reading, 'Thou shalt not eat meat,' or a clear statement that Jesus didn't eat animal flesh?" "The fact that few scholars have addressed the issue of animal cruelty does not discredit the value of doing so."

Biblical scholars are products of society and academe, both of which accept as self-evident the status of animals as valuable only insofar as they're useful to humans and neither of which rewards a person for challenging the status quo.

In society, animal exploitation is the norm, and theologians and Biblical scholars tend to entrench or ignore societal mores, rather than challenge them. This is true both because they tend to believe them to be self-evidently true and also because as with most aspects of society, conformity is rewarded.

Take the historical example of slavery. As Rev. Andrew Linzey explains in Animal Theology, "…go back about two hundred or more years, we will find intelligent, respectable and conscientious Christians supporting almost without question the trade in slaves as inseparable from Christian civilization and human progress" (my emphasis, p. 141). Dr. Gary Francione points out, in Rain without Thunder, "If you had asked white men in 1810 whether blacks had rights, most would have laughed at you." It was not until society's attitudes changed markedly that theologians felt free to reevaluate the Biblical passages that appear to justify slavery.

So, "Why do you support slavery?" was not a question that anyone (including theologians) asked in 1800. Rather, those who opposed the practice were required to justify themselves. In the same way, it will come to pass that today's question, "Why should a Christian abstain from flesh?" will one day become "How can a Christian possibly justify violence and mercilessness against any of God's creatures?"

Saints Augustine (354-430) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), the two most well-respected and widely read Christian theologians in history, both entrenched the idea that women were born as defective humans and that a societal hierarchy, including slavery, was integral to God's plan. Today, such beliefs, considered self-evident both when Augustine and Aquinas argued for them and for more than 1,800 years after Jesus lived, are considered by most scholars to be self-evidently anti-Christian.

It should humble us that Christians so recently justified as Biblical mandates self-evidently unchristian activities like slavery, witch burnings, and the subjugation of women and children. This should allow all of us to consider the possibility that we are equally wrong-headed today in our understanding of how animals should be treated.

Once society comes to understand that exploitation on the basis of species is as unjustified as exploitation on the basis of gender, race, or nationality, scholars will advocate justice for all animals. One day, Christians will look back on the injustices done to animals with the same horror and shame we presently reserve for such relatively recent atrocities as slavery and the Inquisition.



Doesn't God give humans permission to eat meat in Genesis 9?


St. Jerome wrote: "As to the argument that in God's second blessing (Gen. 9:3), permission was given to eat flesh--a permission not given in the first blessing (Gen. 1:29)--let him know that just as permission to put away a wife was, according to the words of the Savior, not given from the beginning, but was granted to the human race by Moses because of the hardness of our hearts (Mt. 19), so also in like manner the eating of flesh was unknown until the Flood ..."

It is a sign of our poorly developed theological understanding that anyone uses Genesis 9 to justify the violence and cruelty inherent in today's factory farms and slaughterhouses. In Genesis 9, God makes a covenant "between [God] and [humans], and every kind of living creature." It is important to recall that by the time of the flood, God had come to realize that human hearts are "set on evil from childhood" (Genesis 8), and it is in the context of evil that God allows both eating animals and slavery in Genesis 9 (it is interesting to read the congressional debate between 1820-1865, in which one finds U.S. senators and representatives utilizing Genesis 9 to justify slavery as a part of God's plan). There are a host of stipulations about how to treat slaves and how to treat animals, but both are allowed, perhaps because by allowing them, God can then make them less vile by creating laws to temper human cruelty.

In the instance of eating animals, God recognizes that people will eat animals (violence has already taken over the Earth) but admonishes that "you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is its blood." This means little to us now, as most meat-eaters simply pick up a cellophane-wrapped hunk of meat from their grocer's freezer. But in context, this is a revolutionary passage in defense of animal welfare. At the time when Genesis was written, people would routinely hack bits off of animals (e.g., a donkey's leg or a camel's hump) and then pack the wound in salt, keeping the animals alive in complete and utter misery. God recognizes that humans are going to kill and eat animals, just as God realizes that humans are going to hold slaves, neither of which are actions consistent with God's ideal plan as presented in the Garden of Eden and the vision of Isaiah 11. Although God recognizes that people will eat meat, God requires that meat-eaters kill animals before eating them and sets up a variety of laws regarding the consumption of animals. For more on this topic, please read the question, "If God doesn't ordain meat-eating, why are there so many laws about what meat is and isn't clean, and why doesn't Jesus condemn meat-eating outright?"

A complete reading of Genesis 9, with God's covenant with all flesh, both humans and animals, as well as the begrudging line, "Fear and dread of you will be in all the animals …" paints a very clear picture of a God who is horrified by human violence and exploitation. It is hardly humanity's finest hour when we find animals living in fear and dread of us. Who of us has not seen a dog or a cat who has been abused and cowers in fear of any human contact? Is this what we aspire to with cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals? Of course not.

On today's farms, animals are treated like machines, never granted the Sabbath rest required by God or any of the consideration that is their due as God's creatures. Within days of birth, for example, cows have their horns torn from their heads and chickens have their beaks seared off with a hot blade. Male cows and pigs are castrated without painkillers. All of these animals spend their brief lives in crowded and ammonia-filled conditions, many of them so cramped that they can't even turn around or spread a wing. Many do not get a breath of fresh air until they are prodded and crammed onto trucks for a nightmarish ride to the slaughterhouse, often through weather extremes and always without food or water. The animals are then hung upside down and their throats are sliced open, often while they're fully conscious.

The only legitimate Christian response to such mockery of God's beautiful creatures is to adopt a vegetarian diet.


Why don't you focus your attention on abortion or child abuse? Why do you care about animals?


Since the principle that underlies all of Jesus' actions is the sanctity of life and the right of every being to be secure from violation and harm, it makes perfect sense that some organizations and individuals would focus their limited energy and resources on the alleviation of the millions of daily acts of violence against animals in laboratories, on factory farms, in the fur and leather trades, and on our streets. As animals have few defenders, this is an enormous undertaking. Those who are particularly adamant on the abortion issue should also consider the issue of vegetarianism, as it requires no additional effort and lends the credibility of personal action to their statements about being "pro-life."

There is so much violence in the world, from wars in sub-Saharan Africa to violence in U.S. inner cities. For the most part, the issues are complex and the solutions not easily formulated. Even with the issue of abortion, few of us will ever have to make this choice, and no one can make this choice for someone else, however much some people might wish to.

But there is one area where the solution is simple: the issue of animal abuse on factory farms. Each and every one of us can simply choose not to be animal abusers by becoming a vegetarian. Every time we sit down to eat, we make a choice: Do we want to support compassion and mercy? Or do we want to support misery, violence, and bloodshed? Are we animal abusers, or are we kind to animals? Most of us would agree that it is immoral, unchristian even, to cause gratuitous suffering to a dog or a cat. It is illogical, as well as unkind, not to extend this same understanding to cows, pigs, chickens, fish, and all other animals.

If we purport to be "pro-life," yet we choose to support violence, misery, and death every time we sit down to eat, what does that say about our convictions? For a simple palate preference, we have become "pro-death," we are paying for cruelty to animals. The only legitimate Christian or "pro-life" choice is vegetarianism.

For more information about animal exploitation for food, please visit PETA's vegetarian Web site.



What about Peter's vision in Acts, where the animals come down in the cloth?

This story, written by the author of the Gospel of Luke for his Greek community, has one point: that God loves all people, regardless of religion. Peter doesn't kill or eat these animals, and every interpretation makes the exact same point, that this passage "is a new intervention of the Holy Spirit so that the Church would come out of the Jewish environment and the Gospel would come to other people." (Christian Community Bible, Catholic Pastoral Edition).

These animals are part of a dream, and are symbolic of human beings, as the context makes absolutely clear. In this case, by saying that there is no such thing as an "unclean" animal, the vision tells Peter that there is also no such thing as an "unclean" human being. To make sure that we don't miss the point, the passage is framed by unclean Cornelius' vision in which an angel tells him to summon Peter, and Peter journey to Cornelius' house. One might think that would be enough for anyone to get the point.

But just to be absolutely certain, Peter is explicit, "You know that is forbidden for Jews to associate with anyone of another nation or to enter his house. But God has made it clear to me that no one should call any person common or consider him unclean; because of this I came at once when I was sent for … Truly I realize that God does not show partiality, but in all nations he listens to everyone who fears God and does good, whatever his nation may be."

As with other passages that are often used to justify actions that are inherently unchristian, the only way to misinterpret this passage is to totally ignore its context (and all of the commentaries). Interpreting this passage as being pro-meat requires that the reader completely ignore everything that the story is trying to communicate.

Clinging to this passage, which promotes inclusiveness, to justify eating animals today is particularly vulgar. Modern farms treat God's creatures like so many boxes in a warehouse--ripping out their teeth, slicing off their beaks, tearing out their horns, inflicting third-degree burns (branding), castrating them, and the list goes on, all without any painkillers at all. Agricultural scientists play God, forever struggling to make animals grow faster (or produce more milk and eggs). The animals pays the price, as they suffer heart attacks, leg deformities, and broken bones, because their hearts and legs can't keep up with their Frankenstein-like bodies. If their treatment hasn't killed them on the so-called farm, they are carted to slaughter through all weather extremes to a gruesome and bloody death under the knife.



Doesn't Jesus eat fish after the resurrection, help the fisherman catch fish, and serve fish during the multiplication miracle?

First, regardless of whether the fish in these events are actual fish, Christians today must ask ourselves, considering the fact that we have absolutely no physical justification for consuming the flesh of any animals, why we would chose to do so. We know that, biologically and physiologically, fish feel pain in the same way others animals do. We know that eating them is not good for us. Why, for a simple palate preference, would we cause pain and suffering to God's creatures? For more information on fish, visit PETA's pro-fish Web site: NoFishing.net.

Second, it's important to remember that Jesus was not a fisherman, but a carpenter like Joseph, and that the fish symbol has deep meaning for Christians, as it has for almost 2,000 years. The meaning given to the fish in Christianity is a result of the Greek word for fish, IXOUS, being a Greek acronym for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." In many instances, seeing the fish as symbols makes far more sense than a literal interpretation, within the context of the stories. Let's look at each of the fish stories, both literally and symbolically.

The loaves and the fishes:
Clearly, this story has deep symbolic meaning beyond a literal interpretation, and that is the entire meaning of the story, according to most Biblical scholars. For most scholars, the story has two meanings: first, this story represents Jesus' espousal of an ethic of compassion. Jesus teaches us that we are to share what we have with the needy, and that if everyone shares, there will be plenty for all. Second, the story represents Jesus' promise to the disciples that he will make them "fishers of men." That is, in multiplying fish, he multiplies disciples, symbolized by the fish.

But even a literal interpretation does not justify eating animals. Multiplying fish who are already dead (thus causing no additional suffering), to feed them to hungry people who do not understand the ethical objection to eating fish, could be seen as an act of compassion. Three other observations regarding the events as written down seem warranted:
·When the disciples ask where they will get enough food to feed everyone, they speak only of bread. This is borne out later as well: Every time the disciples discuss food, they discuss vegetarian food, principally bread.
·This miracle takes place on the sea, and Jesus at no point suggests that anyone go fishing, the logical choice, if he has no objection to causing God's sea animals to suffer. Rather, he creates plenty where there is want.
·When Jesus refers back to this event (e.g., Mt. 17, Mk. 8), he refers only to the loaves, never mentioning the fish, and he interprets the event symbolically, saying explicitly that the disciples are totally missing the point, when they interpret the event literally.

At the very least, we can say for certain regarding this miracle that Jesus does not cause fish to suffer or die and does not consider the fish to have been an integral aspect of this miracle. Again, though, no matter how this miracle is viewed, it does not justify the horrific treatment of fish and other animals for food today.

The nets filled with fish:
In Luke and John, Jesus is seen helping the disciples catch a vast quantity of fish. In Luke, the event is depicted as his first call of the disciples. In John, the event occurs after the resurrection.

Most reputable Biblical scholars see the events symbolically, and from a symbolic standpoint, Jesus assisting the disciples in netting massive quantities of fish could not be much clearer, especially considering his promise that he will make them "fishers of men." They are bringing disciples (fish) into the fold.

Regardless, a literal reading of the text shows animals cooperating with Jesus to prove his divinity. In both Gospels, so many fish fill the nets that the boats begin to sink. In Luke, Jesus told the disciples, "Henceforth, you will be catching men," and then they returned to shore, "left everything, and followed him." The story is clear: They couldn't get the fish into the boat because the boat was sinking. And since they immediately leave everything and follow, it seems unlikely that they somehow got the fish to the shore and left them to suffocate and rot.

The post-resurrection fish consumption stories:
The post-resurrection stories are seen by most scholars as late additions to the Gospels, intended to settle a historical schism in the Church regarding whether Jesus rose bodily. The inclusion of fish consumption, which occurs only in the Gospels of Luke and John (the last two written), would bolster the idea of Jesus rising bodily, showing that he must and can fulfill his need for food. Interestingly, the post-resurrection stories include the one aspect of Jesus' life that almost all scholars consider dubious, Jesus' statement that "these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." Few Christians believe they can consume poison or should play with poisonous snakes.

Regardless, it is difficult to imagine that these stories as precise representations of events, considering that there is almost no similarity among the four Gospels regarding the events that take place. And again, even if literally true, Jesus' decision to eat fish upon his return to earth (the ONLY time he is seen eating meat anywhere in the Gospels) should not make us feel good about supporting cruelty to God's creatures today. That Jesus may have had some ethereal reason to consume animal flesh, which seems unlikely, does not justify the horrific practices of commercial fishing fleets, slaughterhouses, and so on, today.

Conclusion:
For additional analysis of the "fish stories," please read the answer to the question, "Do you believe Jesus was a vegetarian?" But even if one believes that Jesus ate fish after the resurrection, multiplied them to feed the multitudes, and filled the disciples nets with them, that does not justify supporting the violent meat industry today. For more on this argument, please read our answer to the question that begins: "I believe that the Bible is literally true." For more information on the suffering of fish, please visit PETA's pro-fish Web site: NoFishing.net. For more information on factory farming and other abuses of cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys, visit PETA's vegetarian Web site: MeatStinks.com. The fact is, the only reason we can give for eating animals is that we like the taste of their flesh. Eating meat is bad for us, for the environment, and of course, for the animals. If, for a simple palate preference, we are willing to become animal abusers, what does that say about our belief in compassion and mercy?


Doesn't God call for animal sacrifice?

Regardless of the original motivation for the texts that appear to call for animal sacrifice, people today are not in a similar situation. In fact, more than 20 billion animals slaughtered for food in the United States every year, three times the global human population. The way these animals are treated makes an absolute mockery of God, rather than paying any sort of tribute. As just one example, God's creatures are genetically bred to grow so quickly that many experience chronic pain for their entire lives. For complete details on the treatment of animals who are turned into meat, click here: GoVeg.com.

The Hebrew Scriptures:
There is no animal sacrifice in God's ideal world, as represented by the Garden of Eden and God's holy mountain foreseen by the prophets (Isaiah 11). In fact, the Garden is entirely vegetarian (Genesis 1:29).

Unfortunately, the Hebrew Scriptures have been used over time to justify many atrocities, from slavery to witch burnings to the Inquisition to spousal and child abuse. Galileo was sentenced by the Pope to be tortured until he recanted the heresy that the Earth revolves around the sun, which is contradicted by Genesis. According to Leviticus, witches should be burned, and adulterers, disobedient children, and people who violate the Sabbath should be stoned to death. Lepers and the disabled were unclean and were not to enter the temple. One poor fellow in the book of Numbers (16) was stoned to death for gathering wood on the Sabbath. He is killed by Moses and the Israelites as God gives the orders. Lot is considered righteous, even after offering his virgin daughters to the men outside the gate in the Genesis story (19).

The point here isn't that God is violent and cruel. God is love, as His words through the prophets make clear. The Old Testament is more of a history than an explanation of God's intention, with the exception of the Garden of Eden (God's ideal world, toward which we're all called to strive) and the Prophetic visions (where He tells us that to know him is to be just, merciful, and humble). Meat-eating is part of the fallen creation, like stoning for adultery and "an eye for an eye" morality, both of which are called for by God according to a provincial reading of the Hebrew Scriptures but are denounced by the prophets and condemned as misinterpretation by Jesus.

Micah, Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea all condemn animal sacrifice. Hosea and Jeremiah state explicitly that human beings created animal sacrifice as an excuse to consume flesh: "They offer sacrifices to me because they are those who eat the meat, but Yahweh does not accept their sacrifices, for He is mindful of their sin and remembers their wickedness" (Hosea 8:13).


The Christian Scriptures:
Jesus opposes animal sacrifice from the first action of his ministry (baptism) to his final action (crucifixion). His life is one spent preaching mercy and compassion and explicitly opposing the Temple cult, a cult of animal sacrifice. Three points are especially relevant.

First, in Jesus' time, animal sacrifice was considered by many to be the only method of forgiveness for sin. Those who opposed it looked to the eternal law of God, the law of the Garden of Eden and the Prophets (e.g., Hosea 2:18, Isaiah 11:6-9), and instituted baptism for forgiveness of sins. Thus, in the course of his ministry, Jesus says multiple times, quoting the prophets, that his followers must learn to understand what God means when He says through the prophet Hosea, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." (Mt 9:13, 12:6-7). God is speaking here of animal sacrifice.

The stress on baptism in the Gospel and Acts of the Apostles doesn't have the same impact on us as it would have in first-century Palestine, but the people of Jesus' time understood that baptism represented a complete rejection of the violence and bloodshed involved in killing animals for forgiveness. John the Baptist prepares the way of Jesus by appearing in the desert, "preaching a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins." Luke explains that "the will of God" is baptism for forgiveness of sins, "whereas the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, in not letting themselves be baptized, ignored this will of God." This complete rejection of animal sacrifice (and the carnivorous diet which accompanies it) cannot be over-emphasized.

Second, animal sacrifice was carried out in the temple, which is why those who objected opposed the temple. Jesus speaks consistently of casting down the temple and overthrowing the temple. Jesus enters the temple and casts out the money changers and animal traders. He quotes from Jeremiah 7, which first-century Palestinians would have recalled:

Jeremiah 7 finds God saying that He never intended animal sacrifice and making the direct link between animal sacrifice and meat-eating. John the Evangelist places this as the first act in Jesus' ministry and places it just prior to the Sabbath ("As the Passover was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple court?"). So Jesus enters the temple and prevents people from sacrificing animals for the Sabbath meal. The crucial point is that these people were only selling animals and only for sacrifice. The people would eat the flesh of the animal sacrificed.

Third, and finally, Jesus' death on the cross is, for Christians, the final sacrifice, and Jesus' followers continue to celebrate His memory with vegetarian food, bread, and wine.

Conclusion:
Animal sacrifice was never a part of God's plan, as clearly stated in Genesis 1. Animal sacrifice was condemned by God through the prophets and by Jesus throughout his entire life.



Why are you focusing on Christianity?

The three religions that have most often been misused against animal welfare are the monotheistic religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. We started with Christianity, and have since launched a site addressing the issue of Islam and animal rights. We feel that the issue of Judaism and animal rights is very well covered by the organizations Jews for Animal Rights and the Jewish Vegetarian Society of North America.

For more information on Judaism and animal rights, check out the Jewish Perspective. For more information on animal rights and other religions, you will find a variety of Web sites on our "Links" page. In the "Scholarly Works" section, you will find ordering information for two books on vegetarianism and the world religions. If you know of a book or a link that we don't mention, please let us know. Also, click here to check out our site: islamicconcern.com.



Jesus was an observant Jew, so wouldn't he have eaten the sacrificial lamb on Passover?

Even if Jesus did eat the Passover Lamb 2,000 years ago, that should not placate us regarding the 20 billion of God's creatures who are abused for food each year. The way these animals are treated makes an absolute mockery of God, playing God with genetic breeding, mutilating of bodies without painkillers, and a complete disdain for every natural inclination and feeling of these animals, who are, remember, beloved by God and created by God with a capacity for pain and suffering. For complete details on the treatment of animals who are turned into meat, click here: GoVeg.com.


Beyond this point, there is strong evidence, actually, that Jesus did not eat the Passover Lamb. This question is closely linked to the issue of animal sacrifice in general, so please read our response to the animal sacrifice question, which contains detail not included here. In fact, the evidence that Jesus did not eat lamb on Passover is one of the stronger arguments for his vegetarianism, as there were many vegetarian Jews in Jesus' day, and one thing that distinguished them was their vegetarian Passover meals.

We see Jesus eating on Passover twice in the Gospels: First, in the Gospel of John, chapter 6, Passover is at hand, and the disciples ask Jesus, "Where will we buy enough bread to feed all these people" bread being the Passover food of the vegetarian Jews of Jesus' time. Second, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the "Last Supper" was a Passover meal. Again, Jesus and his disciples celebrated with bread.

Some argue that he cast out the animal traders because they were sending animals to their deaths. Regardless, his action prevented some Jews from celebrating their Passover with animal flesh, which certainly tells us where he stood on this issue.

There are other Jewish "laws" that Jesus unequivocally rejects. For example, gathering grain or wood on the Sabbath was punishable by death (Numbers 15), yet Jesus gathers grain and heals on the Sabbath; adultery was punishable by death (Leviticus 20), but Jesus calls for nonjudgmentalism; and crimes were supposed to be punished in kind, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" (Leviticus 24), but Jesus calls for forgiveness.

Jesus explains that each of these laws, although clearly stated in the Hebrew Scriptures, are not the law of God, but of sinful human beings. In the same way, there is nothing merciful or loving about dining on animal corpses. Eating meat is a product of human sin and violence. For more on this topic, please read our answer to the question, "Doesn't God call for animal sacrifice?"



It's natural to kill for food. Animals kill one another in the wild. Why shouldn't we?

We don't look to other animals for our moral cues in other areas. For example, some animals fight to the death over a mate, commit rape, or eat their young. Such "natural" events don't mean we're going to legalize rape, murder, or infanticide.

The fact remains: Factory farms and slaughterhouses are violent, bloody, places. We all understand that it is immoral to harm a dog or cat. It is equally immoral to pay someone to harm a chicken, cow, pig, turkey, or any other animal.



I consume the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus, so how can I reconcile that with being a vegetarian?

Vegetarianism and animal rights are based on the ethical paradigm of compassion for all sentient beings, not on some strict dogma. Vegetarians do not eat animals because they know that animals on factory farms are treated like machines. Within days of birth, for example, cows have their horns torn from their heads and chickens have their beaks seared off with a hot blade. Male cows and pigs are castrated without painkillers. All of these animals spend their brief lives in crowded and ammonia-filled sheds, many of them so cramped that they can't even turn around or spread a wing. Many do not get a breath of fresh air until they are prodded and crammed onto trucks for a nightmarish ride to the slaughterhouse, often through weather extremes and always without food or water. Finally, the animals are hung upside down and their throats are sliced open, often while they're fully conscious.

Since, according to Christian tradition, Jesus gave his life willingly, and there is certainly no additional suffering involved in receiving the Eucharist (communion), to partake of it is not a violation of one's vegetarianism.



Doesn't "Thou Shalt Not Kill" Apply to Humans, not animals?

It is important for us to remember that the Ten Commandments were given to a fallen and violent humanity. It is certainly true that originally, God's commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," applied exclusively to humans. In fact, it originally applied exclusively to Jewish men in one's own community (one's "neighbor" in a very tightly defined sense), and "kill" was more accurately translated "murder without a really good reason." That was the most God could hope for in the violent world in which Moses lived, and like the laws having to do with war-making and how to treat ones slaves, this law was God's attempt to make a very violent world somewhat less violent by telling people to, at the very least, not kill their immediate community members.

Society has come to believe that we should not kill any person gratuitously. Although such inclusivity is not what the sixth commandment demands, that is how most of us would interpret it today. So, in calling on people to extend the commandment to animals, vegetarians are simply suggesting that it is now time to include animals, which is actually a more faithful representation of God's real desire for humanity.

Indeed, as is discussed in previous questions, including those discussing animal sacrifice and dominion, God's ideal is represented by the Garden of Eden and by the visions of the peaceable kingdom described by the prophets. It is absolutely clear that God's ideal includes compassion and mercy for all God's creatures. As is even clearer, the way animals are treated before being turned into meat makes a complete mockery of God's love for God's creation. For more information on the exploitation of animals for meat, please visit PETA's vegetarian Web site: MeatStinks.com. To take God's desires seriously, we must all adopt a vegetarian diet.



Do you believe Jesus was a vegetarian?


There are a variety of books advancing the argument that Jesus was a vegetarian, as will be explained in a moment. However, whether Jesus was or wasn't a vegetarian, Christians today should be. For more on this argument, please read the question that begins, "I believe the Bible is literally true..." and the one beginning "I understand that many Christians embrace veganism..."

The basic argument for a vegetarian Christ:
The Garden of Eden, God's perfect world, was vegetarian (Gen. 1:29-30). Immediately, God calls this ideal and non-exploitative relationship "good" (Gen. 1:31). This is the one time when God makes such a statement. There follow many years of fallen humanity, when people held slaves, waged war, ate animals, and committed various other violent acts. Although there are passages in the Scriptures that endorse eating animals, war, slavery, polygamy, animal sacrifice, and other practices that most people find immoral, these passages are a representation of what existed as a part of fallen humanity, not of God's ideal plan or vision. Despite the fall, the prophets tell us to expect a new age, a return to Eden, God's peaceable kingdom, when even the lion will lie down with the lamb and there will be no bloodshed or violence at all, "for the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of God" (Isaiah 11). If Jesus is "the new Adam," who returns us to the Garden of Eden, as Christians believe, and if he is "the Prince of Peace" described in Isaiah 11, who ushers in God's new (and vegetarian) vision, as Christians also believe, it would be inconceivable for him to dine on animal carcasses.

And in fact, the evidence is convincing that the historical Jesus was a vegetarian. There were many faith-based vegetarians Jews in Jesus' time, for the same reason there remain so many today (visit www.JewishVeg.com for more on Judaism and vegetarianism). They understood that God's ideal was the vegetarian Garden of Eden depicted in Genesis and the Peaceable Kingdom described by the Prophets. Three issues that distinguished the Jewish religious sects that advocated living the vegetarian ideal on Earth were: 1) baptism, in place of animal sacrifice, for forgiveness of sins; 2) opposition to selling animals for slaughter in the temple; 3) celebration of the Passover with unleavened bread, rather than lamb.

In Jesus' day, preaching baptism for forgiveness of sins in place of animal sacrifice placed one clearly among the vegetarian sects of Judaism who were attempting to usher in the new age of Isaiah 11. It would not have been lost on anyone in first century Palestine that John, who came to "prepare a way for the lord," was baptizing people, not sacrificing animals. Isaiah 11, of course, declares that God's will is for compassion, for an age when even the lion lies down with the lamb, and there is no bloodshed at all.

For example, Luke explains that "the will of God" is Baptism for forgiveness of sins, "whereas the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, in not letting themselves be baptized, ignored this will of God." Thus, John preached baptism for forgiveness of sins, Jesus was baptized, and the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles all clearly and consistently advocate baptism. For the Jews who were not vegetarians, animal sacrifice was the way to forgiveness (and of course, after the sacrifice, the animal was eaten), but for the vegetarian Jews, baptism was advocated.

Complementing the new focus on baptism were opposition to the Temple, where the animals were sacrificed, and celebration of Passover without the lamb (slaughtered sacrificially in the Temple). In fact, Jesus rails against the Temple, and his single act of direct confrontation with the authorities is in the Temple, the slaughterhouse of first century Palestine, when he engages in direct action by casting out all those selling animals for sacrifice. We can debate his reasons, but the practical effect was a Jew preventing others Jews from engaging in the Passover slaughter they felt was called for by God. Clearly, Jesus rejects this notion, claiming twice that they should all learn the meaning of Hosea when he says, speaking for God, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."

Additionally, there are no scriptures in which Jesus eats lamb, which he would surely have eaten at Passover, had he not been a vegetarian. Vegetarian Jews, as one significant aspect of their faith, celebrated a perfectly orthodox vegetarian Passover. We see Jesus eating on the Passover exactly twice, and neither time is lamb involved. John places the first multiplication miracle on the Passover, yet the disciples ask Jesus only, "Where will we buy enough bread to feed all these people?" giving not even a thought to lamb, which would have been eaten had they not been vegetarians opposed to animal sacrifice. The last supper was a Passover meal and was also, apparently, vegetarian. The nonvegetarians ate lamb at the Passover, but the vegetarians ate only unleavened bread as, it seems, did Jesus.

One final point to make is that many Christians of the first three centuries, including all of the "Desert Fathers," were vegetarians and that they continued, despite being Jewish, to celebrate the Passover with bread and wine, not lamb's flesh. It would be strange indeed for the first Christians to have adopted a diet not followed by Jesus himself.

The Fish Stories:
In fact, the only Scriptures that depict Jesus eating or providing meat of any kind involve fish: Post-resurrection, Jesus is depicted as eating fish with the disciples; during his life, he is depicted multiplying loaves and fishes to feed the peasants who have gathered to hear him preach. For additional analysis of these stories, please read the answer to the questions that begin "Doesn't Jesus eat fish...?" and "I believe that the Bible is literally true..." From the perspective of the scholars who argue that Jesus was a vegetarian, the above arguments warrant a reconsideration of the fish stories.

Thinking about these stories in the light of all the evidence that Jesus was a vegetarian who took compassion for animals very seriously, it helps to remember that Jesus probably spoke in Aramaic, the Gospels were written generations after the resurrection in Hebrew and Greek, and the earliest versions we have are Greek translations and transcriptions from the fourth century--more than 300 years, two translations, and many transcriptions post-resurrection. None of the four Gospel authors ever met Jesus.

Most scholars agree that the post-resurrection stories of Jesus eating fish were added to the Gospels long after they were written, in order to settle various schisms in the early Church. (e.g., the Marcionites and other early Christians believed that Jesus did not actually return in the flesh. What better way to prove that he did than to depict him eating?) The scribes who added the stories were not, apparently, averse to eating fish. But since this is the only depiction anywhere in the Gospels of Jesus eating any animals at all, and in light of all the additional evidence, above, it seems clear that Jesus was.

Although it would not contradict the technical definition of a vegetarian to multiply fishes who are already dead to feed people who eat aren't opposed to eating fish (vegetarianism is based on compassion, not dogma), there are some interesting points to notice about this story. First, the disciples ask Jesus where they will get enough bread to feed the multitudes, never even thinking of buying fish or other animal products, and never suggesting a fishing expedition, despite being beside a sea. Also, evidence indicates that the story of the loaves and the fishes did not originally include fish. For example, the earlies

IP Address : 59.10.255.115