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From: Robin (
Subject: I did not mean
Date: February 4, 2003 at 10:24 pm PST

In Reply to: Re: God prescribed a vegetarian diet posted by balance808 on February 4, 2003 at 10:52 am:

to infer that the Authorized Version (King James Version) is not bona fide. It is a fairly accurate translation for its time. The team that prepared the Authorized Version were the best Bible scholars of their day. However, they were hampered in that they did not have access to the Greek manuscripts to which contemporary Bible translators now have access. A number of excellent books comparing Bible translations are available in print and they point out the strengths and weaknesses of each translation, including the AV. In my own Bible study I use several different translations--among them the AV, the New International Version (NIV) and more recently the English Standard Version (ESV). The use of several translations was suggested by New Testament scholar Reginald Fuller for pastors who were studying the Bible in preparation for a sermon. He also recommended the American Standard Version (ASV)--not to be confused with the New American Standard Version (NASV)--as a good word for word, phrase for phrase translation for pastors with no New Testament Greek.

The word which the AV renders as "Thou shalt not kill" and the ESV as "You shall not murder" is "ratsach." Strongs' Concordance provides the following information about this word. 1) To murder, slay, kill. a0 (Qal) To murder, slay. 1) Pemeditated. 2) Accidental; 3) As avenger. 4) Slayer (intentional) (participle); b) (Niphal) To be slain.; c) (Piel) To murder, assassinate. 2) Murderer, assassin (participle0 (subst.). a) (Piral) To be killed. It is used in the AV a total of 47 times, sometimes rendered as "slay," "smite," and "murder," each time referring only to the killing of a human being. I checked each reference in which it is used to satisfy myself that it is indeed used only to apply to the killing of humans.

I cannot find any Biblical evidence that Jesus himself was a vegetarian. Consequently I have to take the position of an agnostic toward the idea that he practiced vegetarianism. I believe that I have covered already what the New Testament does tell us about Jesus which is related to eating, food, and meals. On the basis of his teachings and the nature of his ministry I believe that he did eat whatever he was served. As you yourself observed, the Jews of Palestine in the days of Jesus' flesh ate meat but quite sparingly in comparison with modern-day Americans. Their diet largely consisted of cereals like wheat and barley, legumes like lentils, peas, and broad beans, almonds, pastachio nuts, cucumbers, leeks, and other vegetables, mint, cumin, and other herbs, fruit, and occasionally fish. On special occasions a kid, lamb, or fatted calf might be slain and prepared. I certainly do not read into his occasional consumption of meat or fish affirmation of the excessive consumption of meat that we see in contemporary America. In the thirty-three years of his life in the flesh I suspect that Jesus consumed much less meat than a meat-eating American consumes in a year. In Jesus' eyes I believe we can say with some certainty America's heavy consumption of meat is gluttony, especially since the peoples of other nations must go hungry to satisfy this country's taste for meat. The apostle Paul has sharp words for those who make a god of the stomache. I do see many good reasons for the adoption of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle by a Christian, all of which are compatible with Jesus' own teachings. Among these reasons are a greater simplicity in lifestlye, a lifestyle less demanding upon the earth's resources, compassion for other living creatures, compassion for one's fellow human beings, concern for the environment, a conscience free from the deaths of other living creatures, a conscience free from the deaths of one's fellow human beings, a commitment to non-violence, and good health. Jesus' example, however, is not one of them.

I believe that it is important to note that Jesus, in occasionally eating meat and fish, is not mandating that we eat meat and fish. Christians are expected to follow the example of Jesus but not in everything. We are not expected to undergo circumcision, to convert to Judaism, to leave our forelocks uncut, to wear a seamless robe, and the like. What we are expected to follow is his exmaple of obedience to God. Where Jesus practiced his own teachings, we are also expected to follow his example.

By grace, I mean "the undeserved favor of God" whereby God restores us to fellowship with himself through Jesus Christ. Grace by its very nature is getting something to which we have no entitlement. We cannot draw near to God by own actions--by the performance of spiritual exercises, abstinence from certain foods, giving of alms, observance of festivals, or the like. Rather God takes the initiative and draws us to himself. God does the reconciling. We receive or appropriate what God has done by faith. Even faith is God's doing, a gift from God. Jesus modeled grace in his ministry, mingling with all kinds of sinners and eating with them. In eating with them, he not only demonstrated to them that they had his friendship but the friendship of the one who had sent him, the friendship of God. I find that it is interesting that a significant portion of Jesus' ministry occurred in the context of meals--he taught, forgave, performed miracles. Jesus chose a meal as a memorial of his death on the cross and it was at meals that he appeared to the disciples following his resurrection. Most Christians regard the Lord's Supper at some level as a sign of God's grace, of his friendship toward them. But I am digressing.

Jesus teaches us that we should not over-concern ourselves with from where our next meal will come. God will make provision for us just as he provides for all his creatures. Jesus demonstrated and the apostle Paul taught that we should be thankful to God for whatever provision he makes for us. We should receive our "daily bread" with an attitude of thanksgiving.

Jesus teaches that it is not what we eat that defiles us but what is within us already, in our hearts. This teaching was directed at the Pharisees and scribes who were very scrupulous in observing the Jewish dietary regulations. They believed that if they ate certain foods, these food would defile them, make them impure. Jesus' point is that it is not what you put in your mouth that is going to affect your relationship with God but the condition of your heart. Observing particular dietary regulations does not make us spiritually better individuals. Jesus list a number of things that defile us, things that come out of the heart--evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

While the diet God originally prescribed for humanity was vegetarian, God gave a dispensation that enables human beings to kill animals and to eat their flesh. Consequently if God is not willing to condemn human beings for eating animal flesh, we ourselves cannot condemn them for this practice as abhorent as we may find it. It is not a sin in God's eyes. This does not mean that God contenances gluttony, cruelty to animals, or any of the multitude of other sins that can arise from the practice of killing animals and eating their flesh. It just means that the act of killing an animal and eating its flesh is not in itself a wrongful deed. At the same time it is also not license for the slaughter of animals for "sport" or because they are unwanted, trample one's crops, or the like. All animals belong to God and while God may permit the slaughter of some for food, they are all God's creatures. Any dominion that God may have given humankind over animalkind is subject to God for God is the Lord of heaven and earth. What dominion that humankind may exercise is not as a cruel tyrant who enslaves his subjects and indiscriminatly slaughters them but as a vassal of the Lord who commanded that all living creatures should be fruitful and multiply on the earth.

As some Jewish Bible scholars have observed, it is difficult to drain all the blood from the flesh of an animal and it would appear that in permitting the killing of animals and the consumption of their flesh for food God had not intended to make it easy for Noah and his descendants. They conclude that this dispensation was intended as a temporary emergency measure.

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