International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India


CHRISTIANITY
JESUS WAS A VEGETARIAN
SADIE G. STAVE
Humane Publication Series 1954, Bombay Humanitarian League.

Vegetarians are often puzzled to find in the Bible so little emphasis placed upon the duty of kindness to animals. They rightly ask : Does not the love of Christ include the lower creatures as well as man? Students, of course, know that the accepted version of the Bible is incomplete and, in many instances, inaccurate. Some appreciate the Bible merely as literature and attach no literal significance to its teachings; while others are concerned that a manuscript so valuable to the world should have been mutilated by those "Commissioned to correct the text of the Scripture in the interest of what was considered orthodoxy."

In a book titled The Gospel of the Holy Twelve the late Rev, G. J. Ouseley has written a translation of the original Gospel which members of the Essene community preserved from the general corruption. He presents a version of the teachings of Jesus untampered with by the "correctors" appointed by the ecclesiastical authorities of Nicea.

"What the correctors did," writes the author, "was to cut out of the Gospels with minute care certain teachings of our Lord, teachings which they did not propose to follow, namely, those against the eating of flesh and the taking of strong drink, and everything that might serve as an argument against flesh-eating, such as the accounts of our Lord's interference on several occasions to save animals from ill treatment, and even that interesting and important; teaching, - ever prominent in eastern scriptures, of the essential unity of all life they also deleted a teaching which they could not understand.-- the great fact of reincarnation."

In this Gospel, God is called Abba-Amma, which means Father-Mother; Jesus is spoken of as Jesu-Maria. The Angel tells Mary: "Ye shall eat no flesh nor drink strong drink, for the child shall be consecrated unto God from his mother's womb, and neither flesh nor strong drink shall he take."The wise men who came from the East " had purified themselves and tasted not of flesh nor of strong drink that they might find the Christ whom they sought." As they followed the star "they forgot for a little their weary beasts who had borne the burden and the heat of the day, and were thirsty and fainting; and the star was hidden from their sight.

"In vain they stood and gazed, and looked one upon another in their trouble. Then they bethought them of their camels and asses. and hastened to undo their burden that they might have a rest.

" Now there was near Bethlehem a well by the way; and as they stooped down to draw water for their beasts. lo! the star which they had lost appeared to them, being reflected in the stillness of the water.

"And when they saw it they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

"And they praised God who had shown his mercy unto them even as they showed mercy unto their thirsty beasts.

The community in which Joseph and Mary lived did not slaughter a lamb in celebrating the Feast of the Passover "Now Joseph and Mary, his parents, went up to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover, and observed the feast after the manner of their brethren, who abstained from bloodshed and the eating of flesh and from strong drink.

From childhood Jesus loved birds and animals. "And on a certain day the Child Jesus came to a place where a snare was set for birds and there were some boys there. And Jesus said to them: 'Who bath set this snare for the innocent creatures of God ? Behold in a snare will they in like manner be caught.' And he beheld twelve sparrows as if dead.

"And he moved his hands over them and said to them : 'Go fly away, and while ye live, remember me. And they arose and flew away, making n noise."

He protects a lion that men mere pursuing with stones and javelins.

': But Jesus rebuked them, saying 'Why hunt ye these creatures of God, which are more noble than you? By the cruelties of many generations, those were made the enemies of man which should have been his friends.

" ' If the power of God is shown in them so also are shown his long suffering and compassion. Cease ye to persecute this creature who desireth not to harm you; see ye not how he fleeth from you, and is terrified by your violence ? ' "

"And the lion came and lay at the feet of Jesus, and showed love to him; and the people were astonished and said: 'Lo this man loveth all creatures and hath power to command even these beasts from the desert, and they obey him.' "

The food of John was the fruit of the locust tree and wild honey. And to all he spake, saying: " Keep yourselves from blood and things strangled, and from dead bodies of birds and beasts, and from all deeds of cruelty and from all that is gotten of wrong. Think ye that the blood of beasts and of birds will wash away sin?"

The disciples mere forbidden to eat flesh food. "Eat that which is set before you, but of that which is gotten by taking life, touch not, for it is not lawful to you.

"And into whatsoever city ye enter and they receive you, can such things as are set before you without taking of life...

"And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give without shedding of blood."

Jesus bids us to be considerate of all creatures, and not of man alone. "Be ye therefore considerate, be tender, be pitiful, are to them as gods, to whom they look in their needs."

Jesus states definitely that He came to end the blood sacrifices and feasts of blood; He also said: "I am come to end the sacrifices and feasts of blood; and if ye cease not offering and eating of flesh and blood, the math of God shall not cease from you; even as it came to your fathers in the wilderness, who lusted for flesh, and did sat to their content, and were filled with rottenness, and the plague consumed them.?

The story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes is lacking in this translation. Instead there is a tale of the miracle of the bread and the fruit, and a pitcher of water. And Jesus set the bread and the fruit before them and also the water. And they did eat and drink and were filled.

"And they marvelled ; for each had enough and to spare, and there were four thousand. And they departed, blessing God for what they had heard and seen."

There are several other stories illustrating Jesus' concern for animals. At the Last Supper Judas brings a lamb to be slain for the Passover. Jesus reproves him. "Not by shedding innocent blood, but by living a righteous life shall ye find the peace of God. ..

"Blessed are they who keep this law; for God is manifested in all creatures. All
creatures live in God, and God is hid in them ...

"They in every nation who defile not themselves with cruelty, who do righteousness, love mercy, and revere all the works of God, who give succor to. all that are weak and oppressed - the same are the Israel of God."

That the old Testament originally contained similar prohibitions against the slaughter of animals is evident from the fact that Jesus quotes Jeremiah against blood offerings and sacrifices : "As also, Jeremiah bore witness when he said concerning blood offerings and sacrifices, 'I the Lord God commanded you, to do righteousness, to walk in the ancients' paths, to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."

But ye did not hearken to me who in the beginning gave you all manner of seed and fruit of the trees for the food and healing of man and beasts. And they said : Thou speakest against the law.

"And he said : 'Against Moses indeed I do not speak, nor against the law, which he permitted for the hardness of your hearts.' "

Jesus straightly charged all who believe in him to eat only of the fruit of the tree and the herbs. "For of the fruit of the trees and the seeds of the herbs alone do I partake, and these are changed by the spirit into my flesh and blood. Of these alone and their like shall ye eat who believe in Me and are My disciples ; for of these, in the spirit, come life and health and healing unto man. ... ..

"Verily I say unto you. in the beginning all creatures of God did find their sustenance in the herbs and the fruits of the earth alone, till the ignorance and selfishness of man turneth many of them to that which was contrary to their original use : but even these shall yet return to their natural food ; as it is written in the Prophets, and their words shall not fail." (Re-printed from "MIRA" Poona)