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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

No Animal Sacrificial Rituals in the Proto-Deuteronomic Text! By Dr. Chapman Chen


Summary: In Deuteronomy 11:26, God announces a blessing and a curse. The 15 chapters that ensue are dedicated to a set of complex codes on animal sacrifice and flesh consumption. Then, out of nowhere, Chapt. 27 resumes the blessing and curse narrative in Chapt. 11. There’s good reason to believe that the middle part is an interpolation inserted by “the lying pen of the scribes” (Jeremiah 8:8 NIV), especially when we consider the fact the Shapira Manuscript, the original copy of Deuteronomy dismissed by pseudoscience in the 1880s but recently rehabilitated by Dershowitz and Tabor (2021), does not contain any animal sacrifice rituals. Indeed, Prof. James Tabor (2024) argues that all animal sacrificial rituals are interpolations added by greedy priests like the priestly writers of Leviticus 3:12-16, Numbers 28: 2-6, and Exodus 29; whereas Godly prophets like Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah are pro-compassion and anti-sacrifice. Jesus even died for attacking the sacrificial system and liberating animals from the Temple (Akers 2020). Kam Waters (The Ellen Fisher Podcast 2024), the co-director of Christspiracy, also notes that there are two sets of the Mosaic Law, one fake and one genuine (2 Kings 22).



1. The Strange Structure of Deuteronomy


As pointed out by Dershowitze and Tabor (2021), the composition of the Book of Deuteronomy presents a peculiar layout. It starts with a declaration in Deuteronomy 11:26 (NIV), stating, " See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse”, indicating that these events would transpire on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. However, the account is suddenly cut off. The expected details about the blessings and curses are missing, and instead, we are met with a succession of animal sacrifice statutes. These statutes span from chapter 12 to chapter 26, forming the set of laws that lend the book its title, Deuteronomy, which translates to "second law." (note 1).


2. No Animal Sacrifice System in The Shapira Manuscript


Then, unexpectedly, in chapter 27 towards the book's conclusion, the narrative returns to the events at Gerizim and Ebal, picking up where chapter 11 left off. This unusual narrative structure implies that the legal code was later interpolated into the original story of Gerizim and Ebal. Remarkably, in Shapira Scrolls’, in particular, The Valediction of Moses’ (Dershowitz 2021) rendition of the story, the narrative flows without interruption, and the comprehensive legal code of Deuteronomy is absent.  


The Shapira Scrolls, also known as the Shapira Strips or Shapira Manuscript, were a set of leather strips inscribed in Paleo-Hebrew script. They were presented by a Jerusalem antiques merchant Moses Wilhelm Shapira in 1883 as an ancient biblical artifact related to the Book of Deuteronomy. Shortly after their presentation, the scrolls were denounced by pseudoscience as forgeries. The controversy and accusations of forgery led to Shapira's tragic suicide in 1884.


However, Prof. Idan Dershowitze’s 2021 book The Valediction of Moses: A Proto-Biblical Book, and the 2021 article “The Shapira Scrolls: The Case for Authenticity” published by Dershowitz and Prof. James D. Tabor in the Biblical Archaeology Review, argues with new concrete evidence that the Shapira Scrolls were real scrolls predating every version of Deuteronomy we have ever had and even the Dead Sea Scrolls (note 2). The Shapira Manuscript matches the mainstream versions of Deuteronomy in most ways, but contains no animal sacrificial rituals.


3. The Vegan Prophets vs The Greedy Priests


The discrepancy is probably due to “the lying pen of the scribes” (Jeremiah 8:8 NIV). As contended by James Tabor (2024), there are two opposing forces in the Bible:- the vegan prophets versus the greedy priests. Jesus was opposed to the sacrificial system – “I desire compassion rather than sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13 NASB) (note 3). The prophets were also opposed to sacrifices. For example, Isaiah 1:11-17 and Amos 5:21-24 criticize the people's reliance on ritual without sincere devotion to God's commandments. Jeremiah 7:21-23 also emphasizes obedience over sacrifice.


4. The Lying Pen of the Scribes


By contrast, many priests, e.g., the priestly writer/scribe of Leviticus 3:12-16, that of Numbers 28: 2-6, and that of Exodus 29, were pro-animal sacrifice, probably because the animal sacrifice rituals in the Temple-turned-butcher-shop were a lucrative source of income for them. The priestly writers of the Bible, therefore, interpolated animal sacrifice rituals into the narrative when they were not originally there. That’s why Jeremiah reminds us to beware of “the lying pen of the scribes” (Jeremiah 8:8 NIV).


5. Two Mosaic Laws


Kam(eron) Waters, the co-director of the 2024 documentary, Christspiracy, also notes that in the Bible, it says in 2 Kings 22 that another law of Moses was discovered by Hilkiah the priest during the reign of King Josiah. When it was shown to the King, he ripped his robe and said “we have been doing it wrong!” (The name of the father of Jeremiah the vegan prophet was none other than Hilkiah.) Similarly, the vegan Ebionites believed that there’re false insertions into the Jewish scriptures:-“And neither do they receive the whole Pentateuch of Moses, but cast out certain passages” (Panarion 30.18.7). When Jesus said: “Blessed are you who are poor” (Luke 6:20 NIV), he was probably referring to the Ebionites (for not all poor people are good, righteous people that deserve to be blessed). 


6. Conclusion


Animal sacrificial rituals in the Bible, be it in Deuteronomy or Exodus or Leviticus or wherever else, must be interpolations made by the "lying pen of the scribes" (Jeremiah 8:8 NIV). Otherwise, how would God, who is LOVE (1 John 4:16), delight to see innocent creatures slaughtered and bled to death, and go on to consume them as His favourite dish?


As a matter of fact, both God and Jesus Christ have explicitly said, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" (Hosea 6:6 NIV, Matthew 9:13 NIV, Hebrews 10:8). True Prophets invariably protested against the sacrificial cult and offered to God bread instead of burnt animal flesh [Leviticus 21:6, 21-22]. Jesus even died for opposing the barbarous animal sacrifice system. In emptying the Temple of animals about to be slaughtered for sacrifice, and in calling the Temple-turned-butcher-shop "a den of thieves" (Mark 11:16, Luke 20:46, Matthew 21:12-13 KJV), He debunked the business fraud of animal sacrifice and disrupted the chief priests' and scribes' lucrative revenue stream (Akers 2020: 117-119; Chen 2024), who immediately afterwards conspired to destroy Him (Mark 11:15-18), which eventually led to His arrest, trial and crucifixion.


In this vein, eating animals is animal sacrifice detested by God. For eating animal flesh means sacrificing innocent animals' lives, a sacrifice to the idol god of the belly (Philippians 3:19), and a sacrifice to gluttony (Proverbs 23:20-21) (cf. Hicks 2018). Thus, go VEGAN (cf. Chen 2022)!




1. Some examples include:

These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep…you may not eat the camel, the rabbit or the hyrax… The pig is also unclean…. (Deuteronomy 14:3-8 NIV)


Set apart for the Lord your God every firstborn male of your herds and flocks… year you and your family are to eat them in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose.  If an animal has a defect, is lame or blind, or has any serious flaw, you must not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. You are to eat it in your own towns. (Deuteronomy 15:19-21 NIV)


This is the share due the priests from the people who sacrifice a bull or a sheep: the shoulder, the internal organs and the meat from the head. You are to give them the firstfruits of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the first wool from the shearing of your sheep,  (Deuteronomy 17:3-4 NIV)


2. Prof. Idan Dershowitz is currently the Chair of Hebrew Bible and Its Exegesis at the University of Potsdam and Prof. James D. Tabor served as a Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte from 1989 until 2022 and was the department chair from 2004 to 2014.)





Chen, Chapman (2022). "Meatism is Animal Sacrifice Detested by God." HKBNews, 29 Jun.


Dershowitz, Idan (2021). The Valediction of Moses: A Proto-Biblical Book, Forschungen zum Alten Testament 145. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2021.


Dershowitz, Idan and Tabor, James D. (2021). “The Shapira Scrolls: The Case for Authenticity.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Winter Issue.

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


Tabor, James (2024). “Lost in Translation: The Jerusalem Temple as a Den of Ravenous Wild Beasts.” James Tabor (YouTube Channel), Jun 6. 


The Ellen Fisher Podcast (2024). “Was Jesus Actually a Vegan? DEBATE: Christian Animal Activist vs Reverend Hunter.” 25 Jun. YouTube Channel.


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