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Is God a Vegetarian? is one of the most complete explorations of vegetarianism in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Young, a linguistics and New Testament scholar, attempts to answer the question being asked with greater and greater frequency: "Are Christians morally obligated to be vegetarians?"
Many people are confused about the apparent mixed messages within the Bible. On the one hand, God prescribes a vegetarian diet in the Garden of Eden and the apocalyptic visions of Isaiah and John imply the restoration of a vegetarian diet. However, it is also clear that God permits, Jesus partakes in, and Paul sanctions the eating of flesh. Does the Bible give any clear guidance?
Close readings of key biblical texts pertaining to dietary customs, vegetarianism, and animal rights make up the substance of the book. Rather than ignoring or offering a literal, twentieth-century interpretation of the passages, the author analyzes the voices of these conflicting dietary motifs within their own social contexts. Interwoven throughout these readings are discussions of contemporary issues, such as animal testing and experimentation, the fur industry, raising animals in factories, and the effects of meat-eating on human health.
Posted June 17, 2014
Pros: Excellent discussion of concept, Intriguing read from beginning to end. Covers vegetarian issue in the most through way that I have ever seen in a book on religion and diet. Provocative title
Cons: Author's personal bias and conclusion may not be a good fit for some reasons. Author's openness may not be a good fit for others. More work needed on last section.
Was Adam and his companion Eve vegetarian? (Check Genesis 1:29)
If so, why was Noah and his family allowed to eat meat? (Genesis 9:3)
Did Jesus say that dietary laws were no applicable? (Matthew 15:11)
What was going on with those vegetarians in the New Testament (Romans 14_1-4)
This book covered a lot of ground for me and changed my perspective on diet and the Bible more than any other book has. Some of the questions that are shown above were some of the same ones that I struggled with as I began to seriously study the Bible. Ever since 2007, I have sought to reconcile my beliefs about faith with my beliefs about food. That journey has led me to seek a diet that is organic and as close to nature as possible. In other words, I became a Paleo.
I chose this book because of the provocative title and because it offered a chance to explore "the other side" of being healthy. As a Paleo, meat is encouraged (if not worshiped) in some circles. That can lead to a one-sided diet. What about vegetarians?
In this book, Richard A. Young attempts to provide readers with a case supporting that vegetarianism was and is God's preferred diet for humans (and if I read correctly) animals.
That presents a problem...
The Bible is replete with examples of animal sacrifice and eating meat (Jesus ate fish!).
The author seeks to solve this problem by walking the reader through almost every section in the Bible covering diet (from Old Testament to New Testament). He guides readers through Jewish history and philosophy as well as early Christian writing to come to support his surprising belief that vegetarianism is the preferred physical and spiritual diet for humans. Sprinkled throughout the book are recipes that can help a reader get started on the vegan and vegetarian path. There is a small section covering how to get started, but I didn't find it as useful as just following the recipes.
If you are a person of the Christian faith who has questions or issues about eating meat (or just curious about veganism/vegetarianism), this is definitely the book for you. If you are not, you might find some interesting insights on diet and Bible, but you might be turned off by the author's conclusion and personal opinion that are sprinkled rather heavily in the text. The author does a decent job of showing opposing sides, but if you aren't looking to change diet, this book isn't for you.
After reading this, I will never look at vegetables and fruit the same again! I don't know if I will go as far as vegan or vegetarian, but I certainly have more respect for them. I also plan on including some vegetarian days into my diet and will see how it goes.