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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

A Vegan Overview of the Bible. By Dr. Chapman Chen




God is love (1 John 4:7 NIV); God loves the world (John 3:16), including ALL His creation (Psalm 145:9); Christ is compassion (Matthew 12:6-7). A humanocentric reading of the Bible is thus misleading, speciesist, blasphemous, and destructive to our relationship with God, and to nature; the Bible should be read from a vegan, creation-based, and compassionate perspective instead.


1. Anthropocentrism is Theologically and Scientifically Invalid


The anthropocentric view that human beings are God's aim of creation, that humans have the right to use, abuse, torture, slaughter, and eat other animals at will, is based on no sound theological argument nor any valid scientific ground. "When we say that God values one being more than another, we are only expressing humanocentric prejudice" (Linzey 1995:33).


2. Veganism's Definition


The Vegan Society’s formal definition is: "Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."


Below please find a few instances from both the Old Testament and the New Testament, in which humanocentric readings of the Holy Scripture can and should be rectified and replaced by creation-friendly, vegan ones.


3. Old Testament Examples


3.1. Dominion is not Despotism


Out of humanocentrism, people have interpreted dominion in Genesis (1:26, 28) as domination and despotism. From a sober, vegan perspective, the word must mean stewardship for it is immediately followed by God's prescription of a vegan diet (Gen. 1:30).


3.2. Thou Shalt not Kill


Out of humanocentrism, people have interpreted the Sixth Commandment "Thou shalt not kill" as a prohibition against homicide only. From a vegan perspective, our omni-benevolent God bans all kinds of killings, including animal killing, except for self-defense. As put by Reuben Alcalay (1981), one of the greatest contemporary linguists cum author of The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary, the 6th Commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13 KJV; Matthew 19:18 KJV) means "any kind of killing whatsoever." The original Hebrew, he points out, is לֹא תִּרְצָח Lo tirtzakh, which requires us to stop ourselves from killing any sentient beings altogether.


3.3. I Desire Compassion, NOT Sacrifice


Out of humanocentrism, people have interpreted sacrifice of innocent creatures of God in the Old Testament as desired by God. People with a fair mind and a vegan outlook will notice that both God (Hosea 6:6) and Jesus (Matthew 9:13) have emphasized "I desire compassion, not sacrifice" and told us not to condemn the innocent (animals) (Matt. 12:6-7). From a vegan, creation-friendly perspective, God's commands to make animal sacrifices found throughout Leviticus must be due to "the lying pen of the scribes" (Jeremiah 8:8), for, again, how could an all-loving God possibly require people to slaughter innocent sentient beings just to please or placate Him?


4. New Testament Examples


4.1. Jesus Did not Eat Meat

Out of humanocentrism, meat-eaters always quote Jesus' miracle of the "five loaves and two fish" to prove that Jesus was not vegan. A somber, vegan mind will notice that in the miracle, Jesus broke loaves but not fish (Matt. 14); and He refers back to this incident merely by bringing up the bread, not fish (Matt. 16:9-10, Mark 8:18-20) (cf. Akers 2020:127). In fact, as put by Akers, "the repeated mention of this story by several diverse church fathers [e.g., Ireneeus, Arnobius, and Eusebius] (and even by Jesus himself) strongly suggests that the original tradition did not include fish as recorded in our canonical gospels" (2020: 127). So much the more, the Greek word for fish (ἰχθύας) was a code word for " Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior" (Akers 2020); and "fish" may also be a mistranslation of the Greek word for "fishweed" (Hicks 2019; Giron 2013).


Similarly, a sensible, vegan mind will realize that Luke's story of Jesus eating fish to prove to the eleven disciples at evening on the day of his Resurrection that he's no ghost is a forgery, for both the date and the venue contradict Mark and Matthew (cf. Vujicic 2016). And Jesus did not eat lamb at Passover for he deliberately held the Last Supper before Passover (John 13).


4.2. Jesus Died for Animal Liberation


Out of humanocentrism, Jesus' motivation for the cleansing of the temple is viewed as the moneychangers overcharging those Jews who had come to the temple to make a sacrifice. However, the primary target of Jesus's wrath was those dealers in cattle, sheep and pigeons rather than those moneychangers. In Luke, the moneychangers are not even brought up. His description of the temple as a "den of robbers" is an allusion to Jeremiah (7:11), which immediately follows Jeremiah's portrayal of murder and idolatry (7:9) and ends by stressing that God never demanded sacrifices (7:22) (cf. Akers 2020:118).


From a vegan perspective, prior to the Last Supper, Jesus, in emptying the Temple of animals about to be slaughtered for sacrifice, and in calling the Temple-turned-butcher-shop "a den of thieves", debunked the business fraud of animal sacrifice and disrupted the chief priests' and scribes' lucrative revenue stream, who immediately afterwards conspired to destroy Him (Mark 11:15-18), eventually leading to His arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection on Easter. In this sense, Jesus was a pioneer and martyr for animal liberation (cf. Akers 2020).


4.3. The Anti-Vegan Paul


Out of humanocentrism, meat-eating Christians accept Paul's teaching that we can eat any meat sold in the market without questions of conscience (1 Corinthians 10:25), which apparently violates Jesus' compassionate principle, Moses' Law, and the decree of the Apostle council in Acts 15 (Tabor 2012; Akers 2020). A sensible, vegan mind will suspect Paul of having hijacked Jesus' vegan church (Eisenman 2012: Voskuilen 2005).


5. Conclusion


In order to honor God, to love our animal neighbors as commanded by Christ, and to save our endangered Earth, it is high time we reexamined the Bible in reasonable, creaturely, compassionate, and vegan terms rather than from a speciesist, anthropocentric and animal-hostile perspective.



References


Akers, Keith (2020). The Lost Religion of Jesus. NY: Lantern Publishing & Media/ Woodstock & Brooklyn.


Chen, Chapman (2023). "Was Paul Really Converted by the Vegan Christ?" HKBNews, 6 Mar. https://www.hkbnews.net/post/was-paul-really-converted-by-the-vegan-christ-by-dr-chapman-chen


Chen, Chapman (2022a). "Meatism is Animal Sacrifice Detested by God." HKBNews, Jun 29. https://www.hkbnews.net/post/meatism-is-animal-sacrifice-detested-by-god-by-chapman-chen-hkbnews


Chen, Chapman (2022b). "Paul the Anti-Vegan is an Ineligible Apostle. Go VEGAN!" HKBNews, Nov. 27. (https://www.hkbnews.net/post/paul-the-anti-vegan-is-an-ineligible-apostle-go-vegan-by-dr-chapman-chen-hkbnews)


Chen, Chapman (2021). "How St. Paul Perverted Jesus' Vegan Teachings." HKBNews,

Dec 31. (https://www.hkbnews.net/post/how-st-paul-perverted-jesus-vegan-teachings-by-chapman-chen-hkbnews)


Clough, L. David (2012). On Animals: Volume One, Systematic Theology. London: T&T Clark International.


Eisenman, Robert (2012). James the Brother of Jesus and the Dead Sea ScrollsI. London: The Way Publishing.


Linzey, Andrew (1995). Animal Theology. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.


Hicks, Ryan (2018). Why Every Christian Should Be A Vegan. Dallas: Taughttoprofit.


Sion, Robert Mt. (2013). Paul the Antichrist. Saarbrucken: Bloggingbooks.


Tabor, James D. (2012). Paul and James. NY: Simon & Schuster.


Voskuilen, Thijs (2005) "Operation Messiah: Did Christianity Start as a Roman Psychological Counterinsurgency Operation?", Small Wars & Insurgencies, 16:2, 192-215, DOI: 10.1080/09592310500079940

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