Friday, July 08, 2005

Genesis 1:29

Genesis 1:29: Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

God ordained our diet. As Creator, He knew what was good for us. We did not have to go into the skies or into the waters to get our food, for the product of the land was what we were to eat. At this point, there is no mention of eating meat or fish and yet we know that later these did become part of the diet God ordained.[1] Perhaps God created us originally with the intention of being “vegetarian”.
[1] Genesis 9:3 After the flood, God gave us all things alive as our food.

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  1. Anonymous11/7/05 15:28

    It is interesting to suggest that perhaps God’s original intention for humanity was to subsist on a vegetarian diet. Indeed many have made this claim. I have heard from 7th Day Adventist friends that God’s original plan was for us to be vegetarian, but after the fall, and subsequently Sin, came the practice of eating meat.

    However, I do not find this notion supportable by the context of Genesis 1. Likely written in the 6th century BC, as a refutation of Babylonian and Near Eastern cosmogonies, the biblical creation account is not concerned primarily with what we ought/ought not to eat. Instead, the giving of food to humanity seems to represent a refutation of the ancient idea that humanity was created to do the work of, and to provide food for the gods. A good example of this ideology is found in the ancient Babylonian creation myth named the Atrahasis Epic.

    They called up the goddess, asked
    The midwife of the gods, wise Mami,
    You are the womb-goddess, to be the creator of Mankind!
    Create a mortal, that he may bear the yoke!
    Let him bear the yoke, the work of Ellil
    Let him bear the load of the gods!

    It is no coincidence that the bible’s creation account so nearly parallels this, and other creation stories, each time putting a twist on it. (Modern preachers do this today when they use illustrations from movies, The da Vinci Code, etc.) Here the biblical author demonstrates that humanity is no mere work-mule for the gods, humanity is not created to provide food for apathetic deities, but was created by YHWH as the pinnacle of creation and was given his/her food to eat. Thus in this way, and other ways, in direct opposition to the self-gratifying Babylonian (also Egyptian and Oriental) gods, YHWH is shown to be a God who gives of himself to humanity.

    Now, why then are animals not mentioned? This seems a more difficult question, however, I think the solution is actually quite simple. The Genesis creation account is about God’s ordering of chaos. This organization extends even to the text as it is ordered:


    As you see, day three mentions the creation of land and plants, and its corresponding day sees the creation of humanity and the giving of plants for food. Animals are not mentioned because in this ancient doxology (Genesis 1:1-2:4 is closer to the Psalms than anything else in scripture) it would have confused the meter of the poem and the one-for-one correspondence between day 3 and day 6.

    Hope this is in some way useful.

    Sincerely, Alton J. Ruff

  2. Dear Alton: A most interesting perspective. And not one I would disagree with out-of-hand. My concern is that while we can systematically say there is a good reason why animals were not mentioned (as you may have given), we cannot just as readily conclude that even though they were not mentioned, they were intended for food - if you catch my point. Those two statements are not connected conclusively - that is from a "logic's" perspective. As an example, not mentioning that I could eat ice cream found in the fridge, does not conclusively imply that I was intended to eat ice cream found in the fridge.

    Your argument however is useful to allow for other perspectives. Thank you.


  3. Anonymous12/7/05 14:32

    I agree Ken. Logically we cannot assume that animals were given for food in Genesis 1. I only offer a literary and contextual notion as to why the text does not mention them (and to say that what we are to eat is not the author's intention so much as to say that God provides food). I beleive that the absence of animals neither endorses nor prohibits the eating of meat.

    While there are many dietary laws instituted later, none of them seem to include a prohibition against eating meat of every kind.

    I hope that in the Kingdom we will be able to enjoy a nice steak with a side order of garlic potatoes. Certainly the resurrected Jesus enjoyed fish. Fish is not to my taste however. Perhaps if there is no carnivorism in the Kingdom, God will make bean sprouts taste like Black Angus beef. Or at least I can hope.


  4. Dear Ken;

    I find yours and Alton's exchange interesting.

    I'd like to remind Alton that, irrrespective of when Genesis was written, there is no mention of eating meat until after, not the Fall as Alton's Adventist friend suggested, but after the Flood.

    The issue of eating flesh vs. not eating flesh for a Christian would seem not: Is it permitted? (Galatians seems to handle that question concisely. And as Alton points out, Jesus did eat fish if not other flesh.)

    The issue would seem to be, as you implied in your original piece, Followers of Jesus would be wise to decide what was God's best eating plan, not diet, for His perfect creation. And, then, eat that.

    I've made my choice. I've chosen a literal reading of Genesis 1:29 which I belive was written by Moses and, after doing a lot of research on the dangers of eating saturated fat, have adopted the eating plan of a non-religious, raw food vegan. (A "vegan" to assit some of your readers, Ken, generally does not eat anything with a face nor anything that comes from something with a face.)

    As for my house, we also eat about 80% of our fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and grains uncooked in their live, enzyme-packed, health-promoting state.

    Bon appetite, my Brother!

    Living life passionately to the full ...forever,