A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics

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Overview

A Communion of Subjects is the first comparative and interdisciplinary study of the conceptualization of animals in world religions. Scholars from a wide range of disciplines, including Thomas Berry (cultural history), Wendy Doniger (study of myth), Elizabeth Lawrence (veterinary medicine, ritual studies), Marc Bekoff (cognitive ethology), Marc Hauser (behavioral science), Steven Wise (animals and law), Peter Singer (animals and ethics), and Jane Goodall (primatology) consider how major religious traditions have incorporated animals into their belief systems, myths, rituals, and art. Their findings offer profound insights into humans' relationships with animals and a deeper understanding of the social and ecological web in which we all live.

Contributors examine Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Daoism, Confucianism, African religions, traditions from ancient Egypt and early China, and Native American, indigenous Tibetan, and Australian Aboriginal traditions, among others. They explore issues such as animal consciousness, suffering, sacrifice, and stewardship in innovative methodological ways. They also address contemporary challenges relating to law, biotechnology, social justice, and the environment. By grappling with the nature and ideological features of various religious views, the contributors cast religious teachings and practices in a new light. They reveal how we either intentionally or inadvertently marginalize "others," whether they are human or otherwise, reflecting on the ways in which we assign value to living beings.

Though it is an ancient concern, the topic of "Religion and Animals" has yet to be systematically studied by modern scholars. This groundbreaking collection takes the first steps toward a meaningful analysis.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Academy of Religion - Ingvild Salid Gilhus
This substantial contribution opens up a broad field and will clearly be inspiration to further work on animals and religion. It is very much welcome.
Christian Century - Matthew Halteman
A Communion of Subjects delivers a wealth of resources for stirring the conscience and stoking the imagination.
religious Studies Review - Frederick M. Smith
Unique, compassionate, and far-reaching
Journal of the American Academy of Religion - Ingvild Sælid Gilhus
This substantial contribution opens up a broad field and will clearly be inspiration to further work on animals and religion. It is very much welcome.
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
This substantial contribution opens up a broad field and will clearly be inspiration to further work on animals and religion. It is very much welcome.

— Ingvild Sælid Gilhus

Christian Century
A Communion of Subjects delivers a wealth of resources for stirring the conscience and stoking the imagination.

— Matthew Halteman

religious Studies Review
Unique, compassionate, and far-reaching

— Frederick M. Smith

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231136433
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 4/13/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 720
  • Sales rank: 1,015,675
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Waldau is the director of the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Boston and is the author of The Specter of Speciesism: Buddhist and Christian Views of Animals (Oxford). He is also co-chair of the Animals and Religion Consultation at the American Academy of Religion and president of the Religion and Animals Institute. Kimberley Patton is professor of the comparative and historical study of religion at Harvard Divinity School, where she teaches a course on animals in religion. She is the author of several books, including most recently, The Sea Can Wash Away All Evils: Modern Marine Pollution and the Ancient Cathartic Ocean (Columbia).

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsEssay AbstractsHeritage of Volume - Mary Evelyn TuckerPrologue - Loneliness and Presence - Thomas BerryIntroduction - Paul Waldau and Kimberly PattonPart IPart II

Columbia University Press

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