The hidden love of Jesus for animals
Christmas and Eastern are the biggest ‚Schlachtfeste’ on earth. Millions upon millions geese, ducks, lambs and many other animal species are killed at these „Christian“ holidays. Was Jesus no animal lover?
Veg: Was Jesus no animal lover?
Carsten Strehlow: I am convinced that Jesus was an animal lover and that he has not just included animals in his universal love but also even plants.
Veg: Is the animal love of Jesus just an assumption – or are there indications for this thesis?
Carsten Strehlow: Nor can it be proved completely if Jesus has exists historically at all it can be also not proved absolutely if he ate animals or not. Even if Jesus would appear amongst us and would declare that he had never eaten animals there will be people for sure who would although then doubt this fact. For example, Jesus said: »Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.« (Mt 5,44). A sentence which we barely understand today not to mention to be able to practice it. But such thing existed in a day as even the human slavery was legal. Such a sentence is barley put into question of somebody today, also not with regard to the then-time. But there are fierce discussions about the question if Jesus has eaten animals – even in vegetarian/ vegan circles!
It is nowhere written in the New Testament that Jesus has eaten eggs, milk products, honey or even meat or fish. The only mention of an egg (Lk 11,12) is to understand just as symbolically – in the form of allegories – as the frequently naming of fishes. The Greek word »opsarion« or »opsom« means not »fish«, but »side dish«, »side«, which has been eaten together with the main nourishment bread. Of course, theologians eating meat and fish have this translated with „fish“. The “fish” was also a symbol of the Ur-Christendom in the then starting fish-period. The 'feeding' with „fish“ as a „side dish“ has to be understood symbolically/spiritually and not materialistically. This “side dish” is the bright message of Jesus which should bring salvation to the fish-period. There is just one point (Lk 24,42-43) in which is told that Jesus should have eaten a roasted piece of fish. This should be happen after his supposed resurrection and is apparently an invention of the author of the Gospel of Luke. Of course, Jesus has not eaten Passover lamb. Markus, Matthew and Luke indeed wrote about a Passover meal but they just mention bread – no lamb! The last Supper has not been named as Passover meal in the Gospel of John. According to Jewish ritual the Passover lambs are slaughtered at the day before the Feast of Passover (Easter Saturday) and are eaten as Passover meal, namely on Good Friday. But all four gospels agree that Jesus has been crucified on Good Friday – the preparation day. That means this was at the same time as the slaughter of the Passover lambs took place in the temple. According to this the parting meal of Jesus was an evening before, at Holy Thursday, and no Passover meal! The time specification at Marcus, Matthew and Luke are just contradictory and wrong.
In contrast, it is reported in the New Testament very often that Jesus preferred fruits much more and indeed mainly grapes and figs. Additionally, he often ate and recommended bread. Today, we would name such nourishment as frugivor as no plants are damaged as well.
Veg: Are there also other references beyond the Bible?
Carsten Strehlow: It is important to disengage from this Bible myth and to activate heart and mind. The Bible is not fallen from heaven and Jesus has nothing written by himself. The modern text analysis discovered that the Bible is not a complete book but an accumulation of different writings which have been developed over several centuries. There is no original handwriting of the New Testament. There exists just copies of copies. Much of this was translated faulty or was passed wrong and much of this also was corrected or even falsified. It is really difficult to find the truth out of this.
There are also writings beyond the bible, the Apocrypha and the texts of church authors. According to these texts the most important apostles of Jesus like Peter, John and Matthew have been also living vegetarian or vegan or even frugivor. Additionally, there are two gospels in which Jesus clearly spoke out against the eating of animals.: »The Gospel of the complete life« and »The peace gospel of Essenians«. Both gospels are considered as falsification in the general theology. For sure, its authenticity is hard to prove – but who can prove the authenticity of the canonized gospels?
I think that Jesus derived from an Essenian family. According to declarations of the historian Philo from Alexandria and Flavius Josephus and the new platonic Porphyrius the Essenians lived vegetarians or vegan, alcohol abstinent and pacifistic. In my opinion the modern theology makes the mistake to put the Essenians on the same level as the Qumran. But they have been two completely different groups!
It is especially significant that the church authors Hegesippis, Augustinus and Ephphanius clearly wrote about James, called the righteous – the brother of Jesus – that he did not eat animals, drunk no alcohol and wore neither leather nor wool. The Gospel of Thomas indicated that James was installed by Jesus himself as his replacement. Therefore, he was the first leader of the ur-christian community of Jerusalem – and not Peter or even Paul! Why should Jesus and James be brought up differently by their common parents? Theses information about James is a important hint for me that Jesus also ate no animals, drunk no alcohol and wore neither leather nor wool. I claim that Jesus even took a further step and nourished frugivor to respect the life of plants as well.
Veg: How developed the meat-eating Christendom?
Carsten Strehlow: At the beginning, there were two directions: On the one hand the Jews Christendom whose followers were originally called Nazarenes, later then Ebionites. This direction represented the vegetarian/ vegan, alcohol abstinent and pacifistic line and was leaded by James the righteous, Peter and John. On the other hand the so-called heathen Christendom developed under Paul. Paul had never known Jesus and he represented another theology than the Nazarenes/ Ebionites. He made many concessions also regarding the nourishment to be able to evangelize at the heathens successfully. Again and again, conflicts rose between Paul and the apostles regarding this subject. Finally, the Pauline heathen Christendom has achieved against the Jewish Christendom and formed up to a church basically because of many compromises with the then Roman authorities.
Veg: In which dimension is the today’s Christendom still concerned with the Ur-Christendom?
Carsten Strehlow: The today’s church Christendom, especially the catholic one, is all but nothing concerned with the nazareneian Ur-Christendom and therefore nothing with Jesus at all..
Just because of inquisitions, burning of witches, crusades, Jew and women hatred as well as cooperation with Nazis the history of the church is blood red. The church keeps silent with regard to the exploitation of animals as they kept silent with regard to the slavery. They even ignore the vegan creation system written in Genesis (1,29-30) as well as the positive demonstration of their church fathers/ church tutors for vegetarism/ veganism (e.g. Basilius, Jerome). But there were even groups which kept to the Ur-Christian ideals, like e.g. the Marcionites, the Manicheans and the Catharists. Not least because of that they have been hunted by the church.
Veg: Is there a hope for animals that the future will be more animal friendly?
Carsten Strehlow: This question bothers me already for a long time: Why have animals to suffer and what is the destiny of animals? Until now I was not able to find an answer for this difficult question. By all means, I strictly refuse to see any sense in the sorrow of animals. But during we speculate about this question together we can already start not only to stop eating animals but also to consume no animal products anymore. Because for this animals are exploited and killed. The veganism is my personal boycott against these injustice systems. The earlier we start the better!
Vegetarism/Veganism as a part of Christendom, Berlin, 2000
only to order at:
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Carl Anders Skriver:
The way of living of Jesus and the first Christs, Bad Bellingen, 1988
ENKARPA – cultural history of humanity in the light of the phytagoric doctrine, Hannover, 1884
Born in 1966, is a vegan because of animal right reasons since January 1999 (before he was vegetarian for over 10 years). He is acting in the active animal protection since 1995. He is author of several articles and book recensions in vegetarism- and animal right journals.