The Bible tells the story of God’s covenantal relationship with God’s chosen people and the whole world. While Christians and biblical scholarship tends to focus on what this means for humanity, God’s love is not so narrow. Rather it embraces all animals, plants, and even the changing landscapes.
Though scholars have wrestled with the idea of dominion rooted in the first chapter of Genesis, this struggle rarely occurs in practice. Rather, Christians tend to act as colonizers, latching quickly onto the dominion of animals, people, and land. As a result, the earth has been abused, the environment has been neglected, and animals and women alike have been objectified and treated with violence, all in the name of God. A vegetarian poses a threat to this way of life, for she steps down from this unjustified position of privilege, prioritizes compassion, and advocates for others in need.
In this study, I will holistically consider the relationship the role of animals in the Bible, and what this teaches readers about our relationships with one another, animals, and the world itself through it. Through a theological examination of relevant biblical texts and excerpts from Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, I will discuss the potential of a Christian vegetarian diet as a signpost of the Kingdom of God.
I argue that the Bible asks readers to thoughtfully consider their choice of food, as they look back to the created order and toward the coming consummation. This project will trace the widespread place occupied by food in the Bible and the complicated relationship readers have had with it, reinvigorating the neglected issue of vegetarianism as a spiritual practice.
CATHERINE C. TOBEY holds a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Theology and Spanish Language and Literature from Whitworth University. Ms. Tobey is a passionate educator, pastor, and community builder, interested in the interplay between theory and practice, the theology of Karl Barth, international travel, and vegan food.