A query I have in regards to the The Bible is what is the place of ‘vegetarianism’? Recently, and not for the first time, I’ve seen people make the claim that it is ‘the ideal’ in the garden of Eden before the fall and suggest that it will be so in The Kingdom as well. Therefore, I’ve asked Alice Linsley for her help in addressing this contention, which I was very grateful to receive once more.
MO- Do you see any evidence of this or is ‘the ideal’ establishing dominion in a different sense? I love Wendell Berry and Norman Wirzba- neither as far as I recall, suggest that this is so. Wirzba, I know, consciously rejects the idea of vegetarianism being the ideal state because it doesn’t have an element of sacrifice and thanksgiving which he enumerates and links to Christ’s sacrifice. I like his take in ways but wonder is it tenable. Perhaps it is if Fr Behr’s right in thinking of Christ as Saviour by His very nature (in the complex preordained way he lays it out.)
Moreover, if it was ‘the ideal’ in Eden, does that mean it is to be so in the coming Kingdom, because Christ, the friend of Fishermen who ate and drank after his Resurrection would suggest otherwise to me. There’s also that quote in Corinthians, which I think people misinterpret to say that God will destroy the stomach and food. Surely this is critiqueing their disincarnate notions about the point and not saying, even implicitly in response, “yes, you’re right, one day there will be no food or stomachs”. At most, it would seem to me that the mutual NEED between the stomach and food; food and the stomach will be done away with because we will be in God’s Eternal Kingdom and we will feed in Him, but not in a way which would necessarily do away with food or the stomach- in a properly Eucharistic sense!?
AL- Let’s begin by considering Eden as it is described in Genesis 2:10-14. This was a vast, well-watered region shown in red. It extended from the source of the Nile in the Ethiopian highlands (Havilah) to the Tigris and Euphrates. Biblical Eden had virgin forests, a large variety of edible plants, and sustained large herds in the grasslands. The region was well watered by extensive, inter-connected water systems including the Jordan, the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Nile, many smaller lakes in what is now the Sahara, Lake Chad, Lake Victoria and the Benue Trough which connected to the Atlantic coast of present day Nigeria. Food was plentiful and the archaic inhabitants of this region hunted, butchered their prey and likely cooked the meat on open fires.
AL- Vegetarianism is a trend and a distraction. It shifts our focus from the Tree of Life to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Don’t be tempted to eat of that tree. As Adam stretched out his hand and took of the fruit bringing the curse, so Christ stretched out his arms on the Tree and broke the curse.
MO- Insights from Biblical Anthropology help give more root to what seems to be a purely ‘mythological’ reading of Key Biblical Passages.
There seems to be nothing in Genesis for example, at this mythological level or otherwise, that justifies the conjecture of Vegetarians that God ‘only provided fruit and vegetables’ for humans to eat.
MO- Is this a case of eisegesis?
What would you say is the best way to contextualise the response to those who said food and the stomach will be destroyed?
Unfortunately, I can’t just let these disIncarnate readings lie, because they seem, even today to be laden with notions of Body and Soul that doesn’t fit with the Biblical Nephesh.
AL- Did death destroy the stomach of the Risen Lord? Apparently not, since He asked his disciples for food. After He raised Lazarus from the dead, He told the servants to give the newly raised something to eat.
AL- Notice that 1 Cor. 6:13 is a quotation. Paul is refuting the libertines who argued that satisfying sexual desire is the same as satisfying physical hunger.
MO- Yes, but some seem to suggest that he was implicitly agreeing with the libertines by not saying they were wrong about that. I don’t think that is the case at all and is it just me or is Elliot’s commentary here way off!? http://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_corinthians/6-13.htm
It appears indeed he is way off, as are those who proffer such suggestions.
Thanks again to Alice, who has been most helpful. I think, perhaps the keu think I’ll take away is this gem- ”It shifts our focus from the Tree of Life to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Don’t be tempted to eat of that tree. As Adam stretched out his hand and took of the fruit bringing the curse, so Christ stretched out his arms on the Tree and broke the curse.”
We are thinking about all things In Christ, for that is where Escatology leads us, Who it leads us to and just like he showed in an unusual way, literally, that food and the stomach were in him, beyond death, then food and the stomach may be in Him for us, again beyond death; as we join him in The Resurrection.
The Kingdom is not a garden but it is a garden city- https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2009/03/keep-the-fast-keep-the-feast
For a much more sensible picture on Christian food and agriculture, see Norman Wirzba, Wendell Berry, Fr Farrer Capon, Ellen F Davis, Fabrice Hadjadj etc because this fasion of ‘vegetarianism’ does not tell us the whole Truth of The Biblical Story.
Note- The Icon is the Tree of Life Icon and the painting is by Caravaggio.