God's Litmus Test of any Bible Verse. Go Vegan！By Chapman Chen, HKBNews
Updated: Aug 17
"Every translation is an interpretation," says Hans Georg Godamer. And no original copies of the Bible exist. God's litmus test of the authenticity of any Bible verse is "God is love" (1 John 4:16 NIV). In the same vein, "Thou shalt not kill," God commands (Exodus 20:13 KJV). Accordingly, every verse in the Bible which seemingly condones meat-eating is either a mistranslation or an interpolation.
(The Sixth Commandment in the exact Hebrew is "lo tirtzach". According to The Complete Hebrew/English Dictionary by Dr. Reuben Alcalay, one of the greatest scholars of Hebrew/English linguistics in the last century, "lo" means "thou shalt not" and "tirtzach" refers to "any kind of killing whatsoever", not just homicide!)
1. The Prime Directive to Help us Read the Bible
According to Don Gwillim (2009), the prime directive to help us tell "divine inspiration" from "human manipulation", as far as individual bible verses are concerned, is the two commandments given by Jesus Christ -- "Love the Lord your God..... and Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV). As God has everything and does not need anything from us, the only way we can love God is to love His creation. And by reason of the commonality of possessing a living soul the animals are also our brothers and sisters to be loved by us (Farians 2009). Genesis 1:30 KJV reads, "And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so". Now, Hebrew for the phrase "life" therein is "nephesh chayyah [living soul]", which is mistranslated as "life" in most English versions of the Bible. In my interpretation, this prime directive or litmus test can be further summarized as "God is love" (1 John 4:16 ESV).
2. Examples of Mistranslation of the Bible Regarding Meat-Eating
2.1 Dominion Means Stewardship, NOT Domination
In Genesis 1:28 KJV, God gave humans "dominion over... over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Meat-eating Christians think that dominion here means domination or humankind's God-given license to kill and exploit animals. However, as pointed by the "Vegan Sage" Jeff Popick (2007:113), if God really designed animals to have the capacity to sense and feel pain, fear and sorrow, and to instinctively prefer life and joy to death and sufferings, only for humans to torture, abuse, slaughter and eat them, then this God must be a sadistic, malicious, evil God, or Satan itself. This is "diametrically opposed to our notion of God" as love (ditto).
In fact, "Dominion" in Genesis 1:28 KJV means not domination or despotism but "stewardship" (Linzey 2016; Chen 2021b) and "protection" (Halteman 2007), because 1. In Gen. 1:29, humans were prescribed a vegan diet, right after they were given dominion over the animals; 2. In Gen. 2:15 NIV, humans were instructed by God to "take care of" the Garden with all the animals in it; 3. God made His covenant with not only humans (Noah and his descendants) but also animals (Gen. 9:8-17); 4. God has compassion for all creatures (Psalm 145: 9). 5. Animals are our folk and neigbors by reason of the commonality of possessing a living soul [Hebrew: nephesh chayah] (Gen. 1:30). 6. Christ always sided with the marginalized (Matthew 25:40 NIV); 7. Jesus died at least partly for animal liberation. (Mark 11:18); 8. Via Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, God reconciled himself to all groaning creatures and offered them hope of redemption (Colossians 1:19-20).
2.2 Did Jesus Feed People with Fish?
Jesus allegedly once fed 5000 hungry people with "five loaves and two fish" (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14). Mainstream Christian churches would have their followers "believe that Jesus Christ, an all-loving God, murdered fish, his own sentient creatures, and fed them to people who were needy," as pointed out by Popick (2007:117). "Did the fish not need their lives?" questions Popick (ditto). An all-loving, merciful God would not have ordained the perpetual suffering of others! (ditto). So the fish discourse, which cannot pass God's litmus test of any Bible verse, must be problematic.
In the miracle of "Five loaves and two fish" (Matthew 14) , Jesus neither condoned the eating of fish nor gave it to the masses (Matthew 14). As pointed out by John Vujicic (2009), "if you carefully read the text of Matthew 14, you will notice that Jesus only broke the LOAVES and gave ONLY THE LOAVES to the people." Twelve baskets were packed with the BREAD crumbs. When Jesus made a remark about the feeding of five thousand, he all along merely made reference to the LOAVES of BREAD AND THE BASKETS which held the bread crumbs. Jesus never mentioned in any way the fishes.
In St. John’s version even though reference is circuitously made to Jesus’s breaking of the fishes, the twelve baskets contained only the broken pieces of FIVE LOAVES. Obviously Jesus used only five loaves to feed the crowd and the reference to the fishes is a subsequent interpolation (Chen 2020).
Even IF St. John's, Luke's and Mark's versions are correct concerning the distribution of something called "fish", the translation is erroneous. It has now been discovered that the word was ψάριαφύκια, the Greek word for "fishweed" (a dried seaweed). ψάριαφύκια has been misinterpreted in this story as "fish". Undoubtedly dried fishweed would be more probable in a basket with bread, as fishweed remains a well-liked food amidst Jewish and Arab peasants akin to the group whom Jesus was addressing (cf. Raw Matt 2019).
Moreover, according to Denis Giron (2013), this helps explain Matthew 4:18-20, where Jesus gets his first disciples by telling some fishermen to give up their profession and follow him. Jesus even says to them "I will make you a fisher of men". Could this be Jesus was having them give up their barbaric line of work to do something more righteous? It may sound absurd, but it starts to make a little more sense when you take it in the same context as the story of feeding five thousand, where the disciples never even considered trying to catch some fish, despite being beside the sea. Why didn't they go fishing? Did Jesus teach it was wrong to eat fish?
2.3 Did Abel Really Offer a Bloody Sacrifice to God?
Genesis 4 tells us that God rejected Cain's pure, bloodless, vegan oblation but accepted Abel's violent, gory, animal sacrifice. This cannot be real for it goes against the essential Christian notion of "God is love". In fact, throughout the Bible, God again and again and again condemns animal sacrifice (e.g. Isaiah 1:12, Isaiah 22:12-14, Isaiah 66:2-3, Jeremiah 6:20, Psalm 50:7-14, Ezekiel 34:1-10, Hosea 6:6, 8:11-13, Micah 6:6-8, Matthew 9:13). And in Hebrews 11:4, Abel righteously presented to God "gifts," the plural form of which implies that it was various fruits of the ground rather than one kind of gift -- the fat portions of the firstborn (Chen 2021a).
Further, according to The Clementine Homilies, The Book of Jubilees, The Book of Adam and Eve, and the Essene Humane Gospel, Adam told both of his sons to offer a vegan sacrifice to God. Abel did precisely what his father instructed him, whilst Cain offered a lamb instead. So we have good reason to believe that the role of Abel and Cain is actually reversed by "the lying pen of the scribes" (Jeremiah 8:8).
As God is all-loving and all-good, He is vegan without a shed of doubt. And in order to maintain a direct connection with God (cf. Popick 2007:123), we have to be vegan, too!
Alcalay, Reuben (2000). The Complete Hebrew/English Dictionary. Brooklyn: Coronet Books.
The Book of Adam and Eve (n.d.). Trans. Solomon Caesar Malan (1882) from the Ethiopic (Gadla Adan wa Hewan) with notes from the Kufale, Talmud, Midrashim, and other Eastern works. Ed. Rutherford H. Platt, Jr. (1926) (https://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/index.htm#section_000) (https://www.gutenberg.org/files/398/398-h/398-h.htm)
The Book of Jubilees (160-150 B.C.). Trans. R.H. Charles (1913). Oxford: Clarendon Press. (https://www.bible.ca/manuscripts/book-of-Jubilees-full-text-PDF-Free-Online-Chronology-ancient-Jewish-calendar-Textual-variants-Bible-Old-Testament-Torah-Tanakh-Rabbinical-Judaism-170BC.htm#pdf) (http://wesley.nnu.edu/index.php?id=2127)
Chen, Chapman (2020). "Proofs that Jesus was Vegan." Dec. 28, HKBNews. (https://www.hkbnews.net/post/proofs-that-jesus-was-vegan-%E6%85%88%E6%84%9B%E8%80%B6%E7%A9%8C%E9%A3%9F%E5%85%A8%E7%B4%A0-by-chapman-chen-hkbnews )
Chen, Chapman (2021a). "Which One was Vegan? Cain or Abel?" July 27, HKBNews (https://www.hkbnews.net/post/which-one-was-vegan-cain-or-abel-by-chapman-chen-hkbnews)
Chen, Chapman (2021b). "Does Dominion in Genesis Mean Stewardship or Despotism?" July 12, HKBNews (https://www.hkbnews.net/post/does-dominion-over-animals-in-genesis-mean-stewardship-or-despotism-go-vegan-by-chapman-chen)
Chen, Chapman (2021c). ”Jesus Asks us to Serve the Animals. Go Vegan!" July 10, HKBNews (https://www.hkbnews.net/post/jesus-asks-us-to-serve-the-animals-go-vegan-by-chapman-chen-hkbnews)
Chen, Chapman (2021d). "Does Genesis Prescribe a Vegan Diet or a Meat Diet?" June 17, HKBNews (https://www.hkbnews.net/post/does-genesis-prescribe-a-vegan-diet-or-a-meat-diet-by-chapman-chen-hkbnews )
Chen, Chapman (2021e). "Follow Christ's Words n Love your Neighbors, includ. Animals." June 15, HKBNews. (https://www.hkbnews.net/post/follow-christ-s-words-n-love-your-neighbors-includ-animals-go-vegan-by-chapman-chen-hkbnews )
Christ, Jesus (1979). The Essene Humane Gospel. Santa Monica: Edenite Society. (http://www.subtleenergies.com/ormus/jesus/humane.htm)
Clement of Rome (n.d.). The Clementine Homilies: Epistle of Peter to James; Epistle of Clement to James; Homilies I-V. Trans. Rev. Thomas Smith, D.D. (1885) (https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/pseudo-clementina-clementine-homilies-iv-11501) (https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/080803.htm)
Gwillim, Don (2009). "Is a Vegan Lifestyle God's Will for Humankind?", Talk given at the London Vegan Fair 2009. (https://www.all-creatures.org/living/isa.html)
Halteman, Matthew C. (2007). "Animal Rights and Christian Responsibility". (https://itunesu-assets.itunes.apple.com/itunes-assets/CobaltPublic6/v4/1e/f6/8a/1ef68afb-1f2a-a3b3-2ed6-85447c967ef2/039ec204b1536dedfe7a145eff7b3a4a87d9886e9c5ea59a59ad980199590b72-1955737112.pdf?a=v%3D3%26artistId%3D1280838573%26podcastId%3D430708584%26podcastName%3DCenter%2Bfor%2BApplied%2BChristian%2BEthics%2BLectures%26episodeId%3D1000092793564%26episodeName%3DAnimal%2BRights%2Band%2BChristian%2BResponsibility%2B%2528Written%2BMaterials%2529%2B%25282%252F21%252F2007%2529%26episodeKind%3Dpdf%26pageLocation%3Ditc)
Jerome and Augustine (390). Correspondence of Augustine and Jerome concerning the Latin Translation of the Bible. (http://www.bible-researcher.com/vulgate2.html)
Linzey, Andrew (2016). "Christian Theology and Animal Rights." FRA. (https://fra-respect-animal.org/christian-theology-and-animal-rights-andrew-linzey)
Popick, Jeff (2007). The Real Forbidden Fruit -- How Meat Destroys Paradise and How Veganism Can Get it Back. MarcoIsland: VeganWorld Building.
Vujicic, John (2009). "Did Jesus Eat Fish?" (https://www.all-creatures.org/discuss/didjesuseatfish-20090506-jv.html)
Pic credit: The Creation of the Animals by J.R. Tintoretto (1550 A.D.)