Jesus in the temple (Greco) – public domain image
As we approach Easter, it is worth reminding everyone why Jesus was killed: because of his opposition to animal sacrifice.
This opposition led him to go into the temple and disrupt the animal sacrifice business. Shortly thereafter he was crucified by the Romans, doubtless because of his actions in the temple. Christians often remember the incident in the temple as “Jesus drives out the dishonest money changers,” but it is clear from both the gospels as well as the history of Christianity that the money changers had little to do with it. It is one of the few incidents in Jesus’ life that is found in all four gospels (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-17). Continue reading
Whenever I discuss Jesus’ vegetarianism, one of the most frequent questions I get concerns the “fish stories” in the New Testament—stories where Jesus is depicted calling fishermen as disciples, serving fish to the 5000, miraculously helping the disciples catch fish, or in one case actually eating fish. The problem with these stories, which I’ve explained elsewhere, is that they are all stories fairly obviously added many decades after Jesus’ life by people who never knew Jesus personally. As evidence of an actual historical event in Jesus’ life, they are worthless.
What most people don’t know is that there is also a fish story about Pythagoras, which strongly resembles the “miraculous catch of fish” stories told about Jesus. What is especially interesting is that these stories about Jesus seem to be copied from the story about Pythagoras—but with the ending completely changed. Continue reading
I’ve added a video of Victoria Moran’s interview of me on December 26, 2021. It’s not the whole service, just the part with the interview.
UPDATE Jan. 6, 2022: the replay of my conversation with Victoria Moran has been posted here. The interview part goes from about 25:07 to 48:32 (starting with an introduction by Victoria).
I’ll be the guest speaker at the Compassion Consortium online service on Sunday, December 26. The service will be at 4 pm Eastern time (= 1 pm Pacific = 2 pm Mountain = 3 pm Central) via Zoom, and last 90 minutes; the conversation with me will be about 15 or 20 minutes.
Topics will likely include my research on early Christianity, why the historical Jesus was vegetarian, and why this matters today. If you want to hear me, you can register for the service here. (You have to order “tickets,” but they’re free.) If you miss the service, there is often a replay of past services on their web site. Continue reading
[The following article by Keith Akers was published in The Ark, No. 234, Autumn/Winter 2016 issue. The Ark is the publication of the Catholic Concern for Animals.]
Is vegetarianism part of Christianity, or are they incompatible? Christianity and vegetarianism don’t have to be in competition, but in practice they are. While many become vegetarians for health reasons, the heart of vegetarianism is its ethical component — the practice of not eating meat out of concern for the suffering of animals. Continue reading
On Christmas day, WCUW radio (91.3 FM, in Worcester, Massachusetts) will broadcast an interview of me on Marlene Narrow’s “Vegan Nation” show. It will be on Friday, December 25, 2015 at 12:30 pm to 1 pm Eastern time (10:30 – 11:00 am Mountain time). (The interview has been pre-recorded.) The content will center around Jesus and vegetarianism. You can listen online by going to their website and click on the button on the left-hand side that says “WCUW Live / Listen Now!”
UPDATE December 26: here’s the link to the archive of this show (an MP3 file).
The End of Captivity? A Primate’s Reflections on Zoos, Conservation, and Christian Ethics. Tripp York. Cascade Books, 2015. 135 pages.
The End of Captivity? is a short, open-ended Christian meditation on humans and their effects on wild animals. The book is both challenging and infuriating at the same time. It is challenging because it asks us to question the basic logic that puts animals in zoos. But it is sometimes infuriating because, as the author points out, human dominion over the planet is so complete that there isn’t very much space around for wild animals. Where, exactly, can we send them? Continue reading
Jesus in the temple (Greco)
The latest data on Christianity comes from a recent report from the Pew Research Center on religion and public life. It sounds as if Christianity is on track to disappear as the dominant religion in America within a generation or two. In fact, it’s possible that Christianity might eventually disappear from American life altogether. Is this good news or bad news? The answer might seem to depend on whether you identify with Christianity. If you’re some religion other than Christianity, or atheist or agnostic, it’s great news; otherwise, not so much.
I’d like to ask a slightly different question — what does this mean for vegans? Even Christian vegans hold a perspective which is so different from that of other Christians, that the decline of Christianity does not clearly have a good or a bad implication. Continue reading
I will be giving a talk on “Animals in Earliest Christianity” to the Animal Rights Academy in Toronto this Tuesday. Alas, I will not be there physically, but I’ll Skype in via computer, and I understand that the conversation can go in both directions and we’ll have questions and answers.
The talk will be at University College, 15 Kings College Circle, room 256, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, from 7 pm until 9 pm EST on Tuesday, February 3. There is a Facebook page for the event here.
The talk is free, so if you’re in the area, I hope you can make it and we can talk about such questions as: what was the attitude of the earliest Christians towards animals? Was Jesus, or anyone else, a vegetarian? Is animal rights compatible with Christianity? And perhaps the most puzzling question of all, should we care?
UPDATE March 24, 2016: I just found out that the talk has been uploaded to YouTube. The bad news is, the video and audio are seriously out of synch. So maybe you could listen to it as long as you don’t pay too much attention to the video portion. Otherwise the video and audio are both of pretty good quality. If anyone knows how to fix the synchronization problem, let me know. In the meantime, though, here’s the link.
Jesus and Nicodemus (H. O. Tanner)
What role would an Ebionite Christian Church play — why would anyone want to form one at all? The main reason is to provide a place for ethical vegetarianism in Christianity. The Ebionites, whatever else you may say about them, believed that vegetarianism was part of the gospel message. When Epiphanius asks an unnamed fourth-century Ebionite why they abstain from meat, when meat-eating is in the Bible, the Ebionite responds, “Christ revealed it to me.” Continue reading
Jesus and Nicodemus (H. O. Tanner)
A reader of this blog recently asked, “When are we going to form the ECC (Ebionite Christian Church)? Or maybe EUC, Ebionite Universal Church?” Many vegetarians and vegans who come from the Christian tradition find that there isn’t really a Christian church, group, or denomination, which it makes sense to join. So why not form our own? Here are my thoughts.
One person recently commented on this site, “Compassionate Spirit could respond [to the need for a vegetarian or vegan alternative in Christianity] by offering a religious experience at Christmas and Easter to see if it meets a need.” This request doesn’t sound that hard. Christmas and Easter are the two most common Christian holidays, and there’s all this material on vegetarianism and Christianity.
Actually, though, this request is actually a lot tougher than it sounds. Let me tell you about it! Continue reading
“Mnemosyne Dance” and her daughter
“Mnemosyne Dance” is the pseudonym of a local (metro Denver) vegan activist who is looking for a church where she and her family can feel at home. I thought it would be interesting to interview her for this blog and she agreed. This “interview” was conducted partially in person but then by e-mail. Here’s what she said.
Question: “Mnemosyne,” I understand that you’re looking for a church and you’re vegan. Can you tell us what your background is?
Mnemosyne Dance: I was raised as a conservative Christian, with a Baptist and Pentecostal background. My religious beliefs sheltered me from other ideas. But in early adulthood, I started to change my worldview. In about 1990 I became active in the animal rights movement in Indianapolis. My core beliefs are in the Christian tradition, but I also support animal rights and am now vegan (past 9 years). Continue reading
Paul and Jesus. How the Apostle Transformed Christianity. James Tabor. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012.
This is a marvelous little book which is basic to understanding the “historical Paul.” It’s so simple, elegant, and straightforward, that after reading it, one can’t help wondering why someone hadn’t written it earlier. Not only is it important to understanding the historical Paul, but it’s also important to understanding the historical Jesus — because it is through Paul that we have some of our best information about the early Jesus movement.
James Tabor is a key figure in the growing movement to recognize and understand “Jewish Christianity.” Continue reading
A Polite Bribe is an excellent representation of Paul’s journeys as presented in Acts. Because Paul describes his first two journeys to Jerusalem (as a Christian) in his letters, we have the opportunity to “compare and contrast” events in Paul’s letters with the same events described in Acts, written at least fifty years later. But we are adrift when it comes to Paul’s third journey. Paul never mentions this third journey in his letters — except prospectively, as a journey he intends to make at some time in the future. Continue reading