Reading the Hebrew Bible with Animal Studies
Ken Stone



If media provide any indication of our culture’s primary concerns, fascination with animals is on the rise. Magazines, newspapers, web sites, and television and radio outlets regularly release stories about new discoveries in animal research or conservation. Nature documentaries generate significant interest. A different genre of media stories features individual animals who have been observed doing something unexpected, even heroic, or just plain cute. Even if one sometimes wonders about the quality of the output, the ongoing production of such stories testifies to a widespread interest in the nonhuman creatures who share the earth with us.

But how new is this fascination with animals? In her book Being with Animals: Why We Are Obsessed with the Furry, Scaly, Feathered Creatures Who Populate Our World, the anthropologist Barbara J. King points out that cave paintings of animals, some as old as 30,000 years or more, found at such famous sites as Chauvet and Lascaux (and more recently at newly discovered sites in Sulawesi and elsewhere), provide us with the oldest known surviving symbolic representations created by humans. Strikingly, such paintings seldom represent humans, focusing primarily on other animals. While cautious in her interpretations of the meanings of specific artifacts, King connects these ancient animal paintings to a wide variety of objects and practices that testify to a recurring interest in animals across time and space. This interest is no doubt related in part to the use of animals for food and the fear of potentially dangerous animals with whom humans have long had to contend. King notes, however, that many types of art, myth, and ritual—elements of human culture that we frequently associate with religion—have also involved animals, from ancient dog burials to aboriginal Australian “dreamtime” narratives to blessings of animals in contemporary North American Christian churches. “Animals mattered always,” King writes; and they still do.1

If King is right to suggest that animals have “mattered always,” as I believe she is, one would expect to find an interest in animals in both the writings of the Bible and the interpretations of those who read it. King herself calls attention to “the complex treatment of animals in the Bible” (80), where animals are sometimes held in high regard and at other times subordinated explicitly to humans. As an example of a text in which animals play a prominent role, she points to the story of Daniel and the lions, which she connects to other stories about lions, religious and secular, ancient and modern, that reveal our recurring preoccupation with these great cats. Elsewhere in her reflections on religion, King also reminds her readers of such biblical tales as “Noah’s preservation of all animal species with his ark.”2

Indeed, animals wander in and out of biblical literature from beginning to end. In the opening chapter of Genesis, diverse categories of animals are created across two days, recognized as good by God, blessed, and commanded to reproduce and multiply throughout their habitats. At the other end of the Christian Bible, in the closing chapter of Revelation, a lamb sits on a throne in a city populated by God’s servants, while dogs are excluded from the city, together with several species of evildoers. The books between Genesis and Revelation are variously populated with different types of animals, who appear, disappear, and reappear in numerous passages and multiple genres. Few readers of the Bible who are watching for animals will fail to spot them.

Surprisingly, however, the Bible’s animals and animal symbolism have, until recently, received only limited attention. For much of the twentieth century, scholarship on the Hebrew Bible assumed a sharp distinction between nature and history, and associated biblical literature more closely with history than with nature.3 Any significant interest in nature was said to be characteristic of the non-Israelite religions from which, it was claimed, biblical theology should be sharply distinguished. Within this framework, the Bible’s animals attracted little attention from biblical scholars. It is striking, in fact, that another anthropologist rather than a biblical scholar wrote what was arguably the most influential discussion of biblical animals published during the twentieth century, the chapter on food laws and unclean animals in Mary Douglas’s 1966 landmark study Purity and Danger.4 Biblical scholars themselves, however, acknowledged animals mostly in passing as evidence for the social niche inhabited by certain Israelites (often said to be “pastoralists” or “small cattle farmers”), or as minor props in an epic story focused on humans and God.

More recently, however, the Bible’s animals have started to creep back into the literature of biblical studies. This reemergence has taken several forms. Following the path opened by Douglas, some scholars use the distinction between clean and unclean animals to interpret biblical religion.5 Others, cognizant of new developments in archaeology such as zooarchaeology (or archaeozoology), give animals a more prominent place in reconstructions of the history and material world of ancient Israel and the ancient Near East.6 An increasing number of studies explore the Bible’s use of animal symbols to represent both humans and God, interpreting such symbolism by focusing on either specific species or particular books.7 And the growing literature on ecological hermeneutics includes animals within its purview, though often in a wider frame.8

Alongside these approaches, only a few scholars have called attention to the potential relevance for biblical interpretation of a growing body of interdisciplinary animal studies emerging outside of biblical scholarship.9 While zoological and ethological fields associated with animal biology, behavior, and cognition continue to expand our knowledge of animals in significant ways, questions about animals are also being raised today in literary and cultural studies, philosophy and philosophical ethics, history, sociology, and anthropology as part of what is sometimes called an “animal turn” in the humanities and social sciences.10 Indeed, this heterogeneous body of animal writing is already having an impact on the attention given to animals in non-biblical religious studies.11

If scholars from multiple disciplines, including religious studies, have made us aware of the importance of what one volume of essays calls “making animal meaning,”12 then biblical scholars, too, may wish to reconsider the significance of animals and animal symbolism in biblical literature, in the ancient world that bequeathed it to us, and among its diverse readers. One of the primary goals of this book is to suggest that contemporary animal studies can prove useful to readers of the Hebrew Bible who wish to carry out such a task. Thus each of the chapters that follow reexamines some section or sections of biblical literature in dialogue with various resources or questions from contemporary animal studies. Taken together, the chapters argue that the importance of both animals and animal symbols has been significantly underemphasized by biblical scholars and underestimated by other readers of the Hebrew Bible. Indeed, I will go so far as to suggest that, without the presence of the specific animals known to the writers of the Hebrew Bible, neither biblical theologies nor the religions of Judaism and Christianity that make use of the Hebrew Bible would exist in anything like their current forms. The literature and religion of the Hebrew Bible emerge from, and are made possible by, particular multispecies contexts.

But in a world with as many pressing issues as our own, what is the relevance of either animal studies generally or animal studies and the Hebrew Bible in particular? Can we afford to spend our time thinking about animals when so many urgent matters demand attention? The frequency with which questions such as these are asked indicates that, in spite of our fascination with animals, concerns about them are still usually considered secondary to human concerns. Indeed, most humans appear to feel little compunction about using animals in ways that require their deaths (e.g., for food, clothing, or experimentation), or about making life more difficult for them (e.g., by destroying their habitats by harvesting trees, growing crops, or human settlement). If asked to justify such behavior, many people would probably refer to the Hebrew Bible itself. For a long tradition of biblical interpretation appeals to a handful of passages in order to argue that animals are not only ontologically different from humans but also rightly subordinated to us and to our interests and concerns. Those who argue thus emphasize Genesis 1:26–28, in particular, where a contrast appears to be made between humans, who are said to be created “in the image of God,” and “the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living creature that moves on the earth,” over which humans are said to have “dominion.” Lifting this passage from its larger literary context, readers sometimes conclude that we as humans need not worry too much about other living creatures. Although we may wish to treat animals more kindly, many would insist that we should not allow animal issues to distract us from the more important human issues of our time.

I will be returning to some of the biblical passages that are used to draw such sharp, hierarchical distinctions between humans and animals. My goal in doing so will not be to deny the anthropocentric force of Genesis 1:26–28, but rather to re-read it in the context of numerous other passages, from Genesis and elsewhere, that reveal far more complicated, and sometimes contradictory, relationships among humans, other animals, and God. Indeed, Genesis 1 places much more emphasis on the flourishing of animal life than most readers acknowledge. For the moment, however, I will make a few points briefly about the importance of paying greater attention to the Bible’s animals, in dialogue with animal studies.

First, as I hope will soon become clear, a reexamination of biblical literature in dialogue with animal studies need not limit one’s focus to questions about nonhuman animals. Although the animals referred to in the Hebrew Bible will receive much attention here, those animals are mediated to us through the words of the humans who bequeathed it to us. To be sure, our interpretation of the Bible’s animal references can be, and will be here, supplemented by our growing archaeological knowledge of the actual animals who lived in Israel and elsewhere in the ancient world. But the frequent references to animals in the Bible do not only shed light on those animals. The animal world provided the writers of biblical literature with a rich set of symbols that they used to speak about themselves, their human neighbors, the religion they practiced or advocated, and the God or gods they worshipped. Claude Lévi-Strauss famously observed that animals are not only “good to eat” but also “good to think.”13 Biblical literature, like many other human cultural expressions, amply demonstrates that this is true. When the writers of biblical literature “thought” with animals, however, they were not only thinking about animals. They were, in addition, using their observations about and relations with animals to understand themselves, their relations with one another (including the relations of power and subordination that structured their societies), their relations with other peoples and nations, their relations with God, and the relations they imagined God to have with the larger natural world and the nonhuman creatures who inhabit it. All of these relations will concern us here, as will our own relations to these ancient texts as modern readers.

On the other hand, even if one believes that concerns about animals are rightly subordinated to human concerns, it is important to recognize that we read the Bible today in a context in which ethical questions about our interactions with animals grow ever more pressing.14 Centuries-old questions about eating animals have been transformed by the rise of so-called factory farms and industrial slaughterhouses, which create intense suffering not only for animals but also for the human workers, mostly nonwhite and from lower socioeconomic classes, who labor in them.15 A series of developments caused wholly or in part by humans, including habitat loss, deforestation, unsustainable hunting and fishing, overpopulation, and climate change, are leading toward what some scientists call the “sixth great extinction,” a catastrophe comparable to other massive extinction events such as the one that famously wiped out the dinosaurs.16 Ironically, these and other animal crises are intensifying at a time when new advances in animal research are demonstrating cognitive, behavioral, and emotional abilities in animals that previously were believed to exist only in humans.17 Such research also highlights many remarkable animal traits that are quite different from our own, of course. But we are creating more suffering for more animals, and more threats to the continued existence of more species, even as we learn more every year about the ways in which animal abilities exceed the limited conceptions we have had about them in the past. To be sure, the writers of the Hebrew Bible could not have anticipated the very different world in which we are now reading their texts. But if our interpretations of the Bible are contributing to a disregard for animals that produces suffering on a massive scale, we have to ask whether those interpretations are as persuasive or inevitable as we have been led to believe.

And this leads to another reason for reexamining the Bible in dialogue with animal studies. Such reexamination is valuable in part because it may lead to a better understanding of the Hebrew Bible itself. In making this statement, I do not wish to be understood as relying on outdated assumptions that a single, correct meaning can simply be extracted from biblical texts through the proper application of modern exegetical principles. I have made it clear elsewhere, in the context of queer readings and gender analyses of the Bible, that in my view biblical meanings have as much to do with the questions, assumptions, and rhetorical reading strategies that we bring to biblical texts, and to the contexts in which we interpret those texts, as they do with empirical facts about the texts themselves.18 As a practical matter, however, we do still rely upon shared conventions of reading (including conventions of translation, contextualization, intertextual reference, and so forth) to produce interpretations that are considered plausible and interesting to others. One of my contentions here is that, even within the framework of shared conventions for biblical interpretation, the significance of animals in the Hebrew Bible has been distorted by our anthropocentric assumptions about biblical literature and the religion it promotes. Thus a reading strategy that intentionally takes an opposite approach, relying in part on insights from animal studies to highlight the Bible’s animal references and interpret them in new ways, provides a useful counterbalance in our attempts to understand and engage these ancient texts in our contemporary world.

Each of the chapters that follow, then, explores the possible significance of animals and animal studies for biblical interpretation by starting from specific points of departure in the Hebrew Bible, in contemporary animal studies, and in the literature of biblical interpretation. Because the issues raised from animal studies vary by chapter, in several places I return to biblical texts that have already been discussed earlier in the book to consider how they might be re-read in the context of different interpretive issues and additional biblical texts. From chapter to chapter, however, the biblical references cover different animal species appearing in multiple genres. Taken together, such references underscore the significant numbers of animals and types of animals who actually do roam through the Bible’s pages.

The diversity of animals who appear in the Bible coexist, here, with a diversity of questions that one can ask about them. Indeed, the chapters that follow do not rely upon or provide a single “method” of animal studies. New approaches to biblical interpretation are often presented in exactly this fashion, as new methods that can be “applied” to various texts in a series of neat, methodological steps. I am certainly not opposed to making methodological recommendations for biblical interpretation on the basis of new areas of study.19 But as Stephen Moore and Yvonne Sherwood note, this way of thinking about interdisciplinary biblical interpretation, which they refer to critically as biblical scholarship’s “methodolatry and methodone addiction,” often stands in some tension with practices of contemporary non-biblical literary criticism.20 By focusing on interpretive moves that can easily be summarized and replicated as exegetical steps, biblical studies tends to tame or domesticate insights from other fields.

More important for my purposes here, the distillation of a single method from animal studies is made impossible by the heterogeneity of this rapidly growing body of interdisciplinary scholarship. Even the term, “animal studies,” which I have been using as if it were unproblematic, exists alongside competing ways of referring to at least portions of the literature in question (“critical animal studies,” “animality studies,” “human–animal studies,” “zooanthropology,” and so forth). These terminological differences are not simply interchangeable ways of describing the field. In many cases they represent diverse foci and philosophical or methodological assumptions undergirding different projects in animal studies. Such diversity can make it difficult for the scholar who brings animal studies to bear in a new area, such as biblical studies, even to specify what animal studies is.

Some scholars attempt to define animal studies in as inclusive a way as possible, underscoring work being done across many academic disciplines. Margo DeMello, for example, defines animal studies or “human–animal studies” as “an interdisciplinary field that explores the spaces that animals occupy in human social and cultural worlds and the interactions humans have with them.” Her expansive overview thus gives attention to such diverse issues as domestication, recreation, food production, pet-keeping, scientific experimentation, art, religion, literature, film, and more. While DeMello distinguishes such studies from “animal behavior disciplines,” she also suggests that the latter disciplines are relevant for animal studies since “we can better understand human interactions with” animals when we are informed by new research on “the behavior of animals, animal learning, cognition, communication, emotions, and culture.”21 Paul Waldau suggests, even more ambitiously, that “Animal Studies engages the many ways that human individuals and cultures are now interacting with and exploring other-than-human animals, in the past have engaged the living beings beyond our species, and in the future might develop ways of living in a world shared with other animals.”22 This broad definition allows Waldau to reflect on the study of animals across a wide number of disciplines, including the biological sciences, history, public policy and law, the “creative arts” (including literature), philosophy, religion, anthropology, archaeology, and more. While acknowledging the complexity of “integrating knowledge” across so many disciplines, Waldau imagines a future in which animal studies exists as a kind of multidisciplinary “megafield” (300–301), expanding the university by paying more, and more careful, attention to animals. As DeMello notes, however, animal studies in this expansive sense, precisely because of its wide scope, cannot be defined by a single method. It tends, rather, to be shaped by methodological debates taking place within the various disciplines that contribute to it. This methodological pluralism may raise difficulties for shared knowledge. “How then,” DeMello asks, “do we know what we know?”23

And the challenges that animals present to our knowledge are not limited to challenges of methodological diversity. Attempts to understand animals quickly run up against obstacles that we at least assume are not as severe when we study other humans. We cannot usually ask an animal questions for clarification, for example. If we are attempting to read texts in which human concerns are privileged over animal concerns, moreover, our conventional ways of handling texts that privilege some concerns over others may not work as well with animals. For example, our recognition that biblical and other ancient texts are largely written by men, and reflect the concerns and perspectives of an elite male class, sometimes lead us to find creative ways to give ancient women a voice.24 But animals complicate such strategies, since the very assumption that spoken or written language is the best medium for giving back agency clearly privileges human linguistic abilities, and is in that sense anthropocentric. As Kari Weil observes,

animal studies thus stretches to the limit questions of language, epistemology, and ethics that have been raised in various ways by women’s studies and postcolonial studies: how to understand and give voice to others or to experiences that seem impervious to our means of understanding; how to attend to difference without appropriating or distorting it; how to hear and acknowledge what it may not be possible to say.25

Species differences may prove to be challenging for many of our critical interpretive habits.

Paradoxically, however, animal studies does not only highlight ways in which animals are different from us. It also undermines long-standing assumptions about the absolute, ontological distinction between humans and animals. Although this distinction and the anthropocentrism that it fuels are, as I have noted already, sometimes grounded in appeals to biblical literature, they also undergird much philosophical and psychological discourse as well as societal and institutional practice. Yet as more characteristics that were assumed in the past to distinguish humans from other animals are found in some form among one or more animal species, the boundary between humans and animals has become increasingly less clear. Even language may not provide as secure a criterion for distinguishing humans from other animals as has long been assumed. After all, some nonhuman animals do learn to communicate with humans in ways that rely, in part, on elements of human language; and it has become increasingly apparent that many animal species have developed their own complex systems of communication.26 Both human and nonhuman animals rely upon semiotic systems external to ourselves to communicate with one another and to become who we are. Partly for this reason, some scholars argue that animal studies rightly moves us beyond many of the traditional assumptions of humanism into something closer to posthumanism (though the latter topic also touches on matters that have little to do with animals).27

Challenges to traditional ways of construing the boundary between humans and animals are themselves diverse, however, and do not always proceed from the same ontological assumptions or carry the same implications for ethics. Matthew Calarco has recently attempted to map animal studies, not by giving it a comprehensive definition, but rather by categorizing a number of critical philosophical works on animals according to three ways of construing this boundary. He refers to these three categories with the terms identity, difference, and indistinction.28 The identity approach takes its point of departure from Darwin’s recognition that humans are also animals, situated on the tree of life alongside other mammals. While our evolution has produced characteristics that distinguish us among animal species, there remains “a deep continuity among human beings and animals with respect to certain ethically salient traits and capacities, such as sentience, cognition, subjectivity, and so on” (13). Many animals share interests with humans that are ethically relevant, such as the interest of sentient beings in pleasure rather than pain. To refuse to take these interests into account simply because animals do not belong to the human species is an “unjustifiable prejudice . . . a kind of speciesism, or granting unjustified privilege to our own species” (14). Against such prejudice, identity theorists argue that beings with similar interests and capacities deserve similar consideration when ethical decisions are made.

Calarco associates several philosophers with the identity approach, including Peter Singer, who attempts to apply the utilitarian principle of “the greatest good for the greatest number” to all sentient lives, whether human or animal; Tom Regan, who argues for animal rights on the basis that many animals as well as humans are “subjects of a life”; and Paola Cavalieri, who suggests that, since many animals possess the intentional agency protected by human rights, such rights ought to be extended to animals.29 The ideas put forward by these thinkers have lent credibility to various proposals for both individual change (e.g., the reduction or elimination of meat in our diets at a time when factory farming has increased the suffering of animals we eat) and institutional change (e.g., attempts to extend basic rights to great apes on the basis of their similarities to us).30 That latter example, however, also indicates one of the weaknesses of this approach. By specifying particular features, shared by humans with some animals, as qualifications for ethical consideration, identity theorists leave out animals who do not display these features to the same degree. Even some humans may fail to qualify for ethical consideration under certain definitions of ethically relevant characteristics.

Calarco thus turns to a second set of approaches to philosophy and ethics that are “based not on similarity, continuity, or identity but instead on an appreciation of the manifold differences that exist between and among human beings and animals.”31 Calarco’s primary example here is Jacques Derrida, whose work is discussed further in my first three chapters. Rather than highlighting similarities between humans and other animals as identity theorists do, Derrida emphasizes heterogeneities that cut across both categories. The particularities of human differences (e.g., sexual or racial differences) and the particularities of animal differences (e.g., between species, or those discovered in encounters with individual animals such as Derrida’s famous description of being seen naked by his cat)32 need to be taken into account for an ethical response. As difference theorists, including some feminist thinkers, note, liberalism’s focus on rights and rationality runs the risk of reinscribing hierarchies that exclude not only animals but also humans considered less rational than the Western subject of rights.33

Although Calarco is clearly sympathetic to the emphasis on difference, he does note weaknesses in its approach to animals. In comparison with identity theorists, thinkers of difference have been relatively restrained in their political recommendations, supporting initiatives on behalf of animals pragmatically but without devoting much attention to matters of policy or activism.34 In making this assessment, Calarco acknowledges Derrida’s “hyperethical . . . desire to change the status quo in view of justice,” which Derrida emphasizes over the calculations of interests and rights found in some animal writings. Calarco suggests, however, that the premises of difference theorists should lead to greater “experimentation with the very kinds of alternative practices and modes of thought” for which they call.35 Moreover, Calarco notes that the desire to avoid homogeneity among humans and animals can lead difference theorists, as it apparently led Derrida, to retain a sense of “radical discontinuity” between humans and animals, which Calarco finds problematic (47). Although Derrida wishes to complicate the boundary between humans and animals rather than maintain its traditional binary form, Calarco’s dissatisfaction with this boundary leads him to a third approach.

The thinkers discussed by Calarco under the rubric “indistinction” include such diverse figures as Giorgio Agamben, Donna Haraway, Gilles Deleuze, and the environmental philosopher Val Plumwood. Like writers associated with Calarco’s other two approaches, indistinction theorists challenge conventional ways of drawing ontological and ethical lines between humans and animals. Rather than arguing that some animals are like humans, however, indistinction theorists tend to emphasize, from a less anthropocentric direction, that humans are always already animals. Our fundamental animality is obscured by what Agamben calls “anthropogenesis” or the “anthropological machine,” whereby Western thought and politics produce human being through a separation from animal life.36 Calarco observes that “the anthropological machine is what philosophers would call a performative apparatus, inasmuch as it enacts and calls into being (which is to say, performs) a certain reality. It is the machine itself that creates, reproduces, and maintains the distinction between human life and animal life.”37 While Agamben underscores the impact of the anthropological machine on humans who come to be associated with animality, his call for moving beyond the anthropological machine also resonates with animal theorists who are concerned about the impact of that machine on nonhuman animal as well as human lives.

In order to think beyond the negative effects of the anthropological machine, Calarco calls attention to several efforts at reconceptualizing relationships among human beings and animals in less anthropocentric ways. These efforts include Plumwood’s reflections on her experience of being attacked by a crocodile, which led to “a ‘shocking reduction’ away from her privileged subject position to a shared zone of coexistence with other edible beings.”38 But Calarco rightly notes that the anthropological machine is more than a set of ideas. It is also “a series of institutions and apparatuses that capture and reproduce but also constrain and kill animal life.” Challenging the anthropological machine therefore requires a “pro-animal politics” (64), intersectional alliances between animal activists and other social justice causes, and direct actions taken against capitalist economies that generate suffering, on a massive scale, among both humans and animals.

“Indistinction” remains the least distinct among Calarco’s three categories. Yet the heterogeneity of thinkers and issues covered under this framework seems, somehow, appropriate. One of the points made by Calarco and other animal studies thinkers, including Derrida and Agamben, is that the founding distinction between humans and other animals has explicitly or implicitly structured Western thought and practice. Thus, approaches that try to think beyond this constitutive distinction are bound to seem experimental and, like animals them/ourselves, heterogeneous.

Significantly for my purposes here, Calarco’s discussion demonstrates the multiplicity of approaches to animal studies as a field. His three categories are simultaneously different from one another and internally diverse. His attention to writers who are not so often associated with animal studies, such as Plumwood, points us toward the benefits of being willing to draw upon other areas of interdisciplinary work that reflect on animals, including environmental or ecological thinking.39

Thus, while I will continue to use the phrase “animal studies” for the sake of convenience, it is important to acknowledge that the phrase is used here to refer to diverse styles of reading and analysis rather than a single methodological approach. Although I will attempt to make explicit the methodological and hermeneutical assumptions at work in the chapters that follow, these chapters do not all engage the same interdisciplinary partners or proceed in the same fashion. They might be understood rather as constituting what Mel Y. Chen calls “a multipoint engagement” between biblical literature and animal studies.40 Or perhaps it would be more appropriate, in light of the attention given here to animals, to borrow Judith Halberstam’s observation about queer reading and say that I am adopting “a scavenger methodology that uses different methods to collect and produce information on subjects who have been deliberately or accidentally excluded from traditional studies” of biblical literature.41 But however one puts it, methodological respect for multiplicity and difference is in my view appropriate to the natures of the diverse texts that we refer to collectively as “the Hebrew Bible,” the heterogeneous literature appearing in animal studies, and even the variable forms of life that we refer to collectively if simplistically as “animals.”

Moreover, a reexamination of biblical literature in dialogue with animal studies does not require one to abandon insights from more traditional biblical studies. To the contrary, biblical scholarship has much to offer the study of animals and animal symbolism. Thus I will draw frequently on numerous types of biblical scholarship in the pages that follow, including both traditional modes of scholarship such as archaeology, historical contextualization, and close literary reading as well as less traditional modes. Some of my chapters will engage contemporary biblical scholarship more heavily than others, but none of them will ignore it.

My first chapter, then, takes its point of departure from what may seem a rather mundane animal fact: the crucial role of goatskins in the historical production of biblical scrolls, and in the biblical story of Jacob and the blessing that secures his place as ancestor of the Israelites. How might we explicate this enabling role of animal bodies in both the material history and the literary content of the Hebrew Bible? I explore this question by introducing three analytical frames from contemporary animal studies: (1) the constitutive importance of “companion species” relationships in specific contexts, emphasized by the feminist biologist and cultural theorist Donna Haraway, and illustrated in particular, in Israel’s case, by flocks of goats and sheep; (2) the instability of the human/animal binary opposition, noted by philosophers such as Derrida and Calarco, among others; and (3) ubiquitous associations between species difference and differences among humans, particularly, in the case of biblical literature, gender and ethnic differences. Though all three of these frames are used in chapter 1 to shed light on stories from Genesis, they also recur throughout most of the chapters that follow.

Chapter 2 focuses on a companion species that is likely to be much better known by contemporary readers of the Bible than goats or sheep. Dogs, the earliest domesticated animals, may interact with more humans around the world today than any other species of living mammal. In the Hebrew Bible, however, their roles are not only limited but also usually considered negative. This chapter attempts to stage a more productive relationship to the Bible’s dogs by engaging a short essay by Emmanuel Levinas, “The Name of a Dog, or Natural Rights.” Although many writers associated with animal studies have discussed “The Name of a Dog,” only a few give attention to two references to dogs in Exodus (one found in narrative, and one found in legal literature) that Levinas, following his rabbinic sources, engages. By reading these texts together, as Levinas and his rabbinic sources do, and reading them in relation to other texts from Exodus that stand alongside them, I attempt to highlight some of the complexities involved in the Bible’s attitudes to animals. On the one hand, some texts from Exodus point to a positive concern for animal lives and animal welfare, and include the Israelites’ animals among the multitude delivered from Egypt. On the other hand, texts from Exodus also prescribe animal sacrifice, raise the possibility of human sacrifice, and include Egyptian animals among the population who are slaughtered in Egypt, including children and slaves. These and other ambiguities in the Bible’s treatment of animals parallel complications in attempts to use the Exodus story or other biblical narratives as straightforward resources for human liberation. Nevertheless, such texts do underscore recognition by the Bible’s writers that the fates of humans and the fates of animals are inextricably intertwined.

Chapter 3 grapples more directly with the question of sacrifice raised in the previous chapter. Although many biblical texts command or assume the legitimacy of sacrifice, the motivations for and meanings of it remain obscure and at times contradictory. Rather than attempting to resolve all the questions that have traditionally been raised about it, I approach sacrifice from an unconventional direction by first engaging Derrida’s brief reflection on the story of Cain and Abel and their respective offerings in The Animal That Therefore I Am. That reflection is embedded in a longer section on the Chimera, an ancient mythical beast who combines features from several animal species in a single body. I use Derrida’s framing of the biblical story to ask whether “biblical sacrifice”—that is, the collection of biblical and scholarly texts that represent sacrifice—is not itself “chimeric” in nature. Although sacrifice is easily taken as a practice that functions to distinguish humans from animals, biblical sacrifice simultaneously produces divisions among animals (by making some animals available for sacrifice and other animals unavailable), produces divisions among humans (by distinguishing humans who can sacrifice from those who cannot), and blurs lines between humans and other animals (by raising the possibility of child sacrifice and holy war, and identifying certain animals as appropriate substitutes for humans who might otherwise be sacrificed). I also discuss Jonathan Klawans’s symbolic theory of Israelite sacrifice as a ritual process that draws analogies between, on the one hand, domesticated animals and Israelites and, on the other hand, Israelites and God. Klawans articulates these analogies with biblical passages such as Psalm 23 that use relations between domesticated animals and humans as metaphors for relations between humans and God. I suggest that his theory also helps us understand ancient child sacrifice as a logical consequence of analogies that structure the biblical sacrifice of animals. Paradoxically, by reading biblical sacrifice in dialogue with the otherwise opposed accounts of Derrida and Klawans, we may find ourselves better able to recognize that, rather than simply reinforcing the boundary between human and animal, biblical sacrifice, like the story of the Chimera, simultaneously assumes, undermines, and redraws lines among humans, animals, and the divine.

In chapter 4, my biblical focus shifts to the story of Balaam’s ass and to attempts by scholars to read her story alongside those of other animals in the Hebrew Bible and beyond. While I attempt elsewhere to read the story of Balaam’s ass as a reflection on difficulties we face whenever we try to understand human, animal, and divine others,42 here I shift my interpretive questions to animal ethics and “animal hermeneutics.”43 Matters of animal ethics may seem rather distant from this donkey’s story, but Jewish tradition sometimes appeals to her story in order to encourage kindness to animals. Indeed, the story explicitly calls attention to Balaam’s mistreatment of the donkey and his prior relationship to her; and, unusually, it supplies her with agency and perspective. With only rare exceptions, biblical scholarship seldom raises questions about the treatment of animals in connection with Balaam’s donkey. Since biblical scholars themselves do not agree on how, best, to read her story, however, or where to place her among the Bible’s other animals, I consider the ways in which multiple approaches to the text allow us to see the story and the donkeys who inspire it in a new light. By allowing for diversity and difference in our interpretations of the Bible’s animals, as among animal species, and by paying more attention to the words of the donkey herself as well as the messenger of God, I suggest that we may find opportunities to move from animal hermeneutics to animal ethics. The particular form of animal ethics stimulated by the story, however, is less about abstract principles and more about the empathy and affect that some animal studies scholars emphasize.

While the first three chapters are especially focused on Israel’s relations with domesticated animals, and chapter four includes both domesticated and wild animals, chapter 5 shifts the focus further toward wild animals. Although the Bible’s writers lived more closely with domesticated animals, they were also familiar with wild ones. Here I ask about the ways in which those writers interpreted wild animals through what I call, borrowing from the sociologist Adrian Franklin, the Bible’s “zoological gaze.” It may actually be more appropriate to refer to the Bible’s “zoological gazes,” since various biblical texts see wild animals in different ways. A number of these texts understand wild animals as threatening, both literally and as symbols for other threatening forces and situations. Some texts call attention instead to more positive qualities. Many references to wild animals also shed light on the Bible’s views about God, however; and these references can be either threatening or reassuring, depending on the context. A few of these texts, such as Psalm 104 or Job 38–41, also indicate that God has direct relationships with wild animals, independent of God’s relationships with humans.

This conversation leads then in the following chapter to some reflection on the relevance for biblical interpretation of the idea, articulated by several scholars of religious studies, that animals might be considered religious or theological “subjects” rather than “objects.” In recent years, a number of primatologists, including Barbara King, Frans de Waal, and Jane Goodall, have made intriguing observations about the possible presence among animals of building blocks for morality, empathy, grief, meaning-making, altruism, justice, and even, in Goodall’s case, “spirituality.” Although I do not attempt to make empirical claims about animal morality or religion, I do suggest in chapter 6 that, as strange as such claims may seem to our modern sensibilities, parts of the Hebrew Bible already gesture in a similar direction. When the Psalms and other texts represent animals and other elements of nature as subjects of praise for God, it is easy to dismiss such language as nothing more than an enthusiastic use of metaphor. Yet such quick dismissal may fail to take seriously the biblical notion that God does “save human and animal” (Ps. 36:6), and judges them both as well. Pulling together references from several different biblical texts and contemporary scholars, and reading the psalmists and the primatologists as perhaps having more shared interests than one might initially think, I propose reimagining biblical religion as a phenomenon that did, in certain respects at least, include animals as well as humans within its purview.

A concluding chapter then turns to the problem of reading ancient texts from the Hebrew Bible in a modern world that is facing dramatic species extinctions. The environmental ethicist Holmes Rolston III once referred to Noah’s ark as “the first Endangered Species Project.”44 Whereas Rolston was well aware of tensions between science and religion and navigated them admirably, I take up his brief engagement with the story of Noah and other texts from the Hebrew Bible primarily as a challenge to reimagine the role of biblical interpretation in an age of extinction. Scientists tell us that extinctions have always been a part of life, but that they are increasing rapidly as both direct and indirect consequences of human actions. While I make no attempt to correlate ancient religion with modern evolutionary science, which the writers of the Bible could not have known, I do reframe such tales from Genesis as those of Creation, the Flood, and Noah’s ark with prophetic texts such as Jeremiah 12:4 and Hosea 4:3 that also understand the disappearance of animals and plants as consequences of human activities. Noting the arguments of Thom van Dooren and Donna Haraway that species extinctions and other environmental threats compel us to learn to tell new stories, or retell old stories in new ways, I offer in conclusion a retelling of the Bible’s story of animal life that may be more useful for our contemporary context than some of the stories we have told about the Bible and its animals in the past. By reading several texts together in dialogue with contemporary concerns about species extinctions, I hope to suggest that, even though the Bible cannot solve our contemporary ecological problems, it may underscore our responsibility for the survival or destruction of other species.

The Hebrew Bible itself recognizes that thinking about animals is a wise and worthy pursuit. Solomon, before getting himself into trouble with the biblical storytellers, receives from God wisdom and discernment as vast as “the sand on the seashore” (1 Kgs 4:29 [Hebrew 5:9]). And what does this wisdom and discernment entail? Among other things, Solomon “spoke about trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that comes out of the wall. He would speak about animals, and birds, and creeping things, and fish” (1 Kgs 4:33 [Hebrew 5:13]). When one hears about religion today, and particularly religion influenced by biblical traditions, one seldom hears about Solomon’s interest in “animals, and birds, and creeping things, and fish.” In his excellent study The Question of the Animal and Religion, however, Aaron Gross makes a strong case that “attending to” animals is a crucial practice for both scholars and practitioners of religion.45 I hope to suggest here that “attending to” animals is crucial for biblical studies as well, as it was already for Solomon; and that such attention will benefit from interdisciplinary engagement with contemporary animal studies. This is an invitation, then, to attend to the Bible’s animals in dialogue with animal studies.


1. Barbara J. King, Being With Animals: Why We Are Obsessed with the Furry, Scaly, Feathered Creatures Who Populate Our World (New York: Doubleday, 2010), 18; her emphasis. See also Pat Shipman, The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human (New York: Norton, 2011).

2. Barbara J. King, Evolving God: A Provocative View on the Origins of Religion (New York: Doubleday, 2007), 26.

3. On this distinction and its influence in biblical scholarship, see Theodore Hiebert, The Yahwist’s Landscape: Nature and Religion in Early Israel (1996; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008), 3–22.

4. Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (1966; New York: Routledge, 2002), chapter 3, “The Abominations of Leviticus.”

5. Walter Houston, Purity and Monotheism: Clean and Unclean Animals in Biblical Law (Sheffield, Eng.: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993); id., “What was the Meaning of Classifying Animals as Clean or Unclean?” in Andrew Linzey and Dorothy Yamamoto, eds., Animals on the Agenda (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998).

6. See, e.g., Paula Wapnish and Brian Hesse, “Faunal Remains from Tel Dan: Perspectives on Animal Production at a Village, Urban, and Ritual Center,” Archaeozoologia 4/2 (1991): 9–86; id., “Archaeozoology,” in Suzanne Richard, ed., Near Eastern Archaeology: A Reader (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003); Brian Hesse, “Animal Husbandry and Human Diet in the Ancient Near East,” in Jack Sasson, ed., Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, vol. 1 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995); “Animal Husbandry,” in Eric Meyers, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996); Melinda Zeder, “Sheep and Goats,” in Myers, Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East; Oded Borowski, Every Living Thing: Daily Use of Animals in Ancient Israel (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 1998); Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager, Life in Biblical Israel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 112–22; Brian Hesse and Paula Wapnish, “An Archaeozoological Perspective on the Cultural Use of Mammals in the Levant,” in Billie Jean Collins, ed., A History of the Animal World in the Ancient Near East (Leiden: Brill, 2002); Aharon Sasson, “The Pastoral Component of the Economy of Hill Country Sites in the Intermediate Bronze and Iron Ages: Archaeo-Ethnographic Studies,” Tel Aviv 25 (1998): 3–51; id., “Reassessing the Bronze and Iron Age Economy: Sheep and Goat Husbandry in the Southern Levant as a Model Case Study,” in Israel Finkelstein, Assaf Yasur-Landau, and Alexander Fantalkin, eds., Bene Israel: Studies in the Archaeology of Israel and the Levant During the Bronze and Iron Ages in Honour of Israel Finkelstein (Leiden: Brill, 2008); id., Animal Husbandry in Ancient Israel: A Zooarchaeological Perspective on Livestock Exploitation, Herd Management and Economic Strategies (Oakville, CT: Equinox, 2010). There also exist many technical reports on specific archaeological sites. For useful discussions of zooarchaeology from outside of biblical and ancient Near Eastern studies, see esp. Nerissa Russell, Social Zooarchaeology: Humans and Animals in Prehistory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); and Naomi Scott, Beastly Questions: Animal Answers to Archaeological Issues (London: Bloomsbury, 2014). Zooarchaeological evidence also needs to be interpreted, of course, and the conclusions scholars draw from it are diverse. For two quite different uses of zooarchaeological evidence by biblical scholars, compare Nathan MacDonald, What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008) with Roland Boer, The Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015).

7. An impressive example is Brent Strawn, What Is Stronger than a Lion? Leonine Image and Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2005). See also Tova L. Forti, Animal Imagery in the Book of Proverbs (Leiden: Brill, 2008); Kenneth C. Way, Donkeys in the Biblical World: Ceremony and Symbol (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011); Benjamin A. Foreman, Animal Metaphors and the People of Israel in the Book of Jeremiah (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011); Phillip Michael Sherman, “Animals,” in Brent A. Strawn, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); and for an early, underappreciated discussion of Israel’s animal symbolism, Howard Eilberg-Schwartz, The Savage in Judaism: An Anthropology of Israelite Religion and Ancient Judaism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 115–40.

8. See, e.g., Gene M. Tucker, “Rain on a Land Where No One Lives: The Hebrew Bible on the Environment,” Journal of Biblical Literature 116/1 (1997): 3–17; id., “The Peaceable Kingdom and a Covenant with the Wild Animals,” in William P. Brown and S. Dean McBride, eds., God Who Creates: Essays in Honor of W. Sibley Towner (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000); Richard Bauckham, The Bible and Ecology (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010); id., Living With Other Creatures: Green Exegesis and Theology (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2011); Patricia K. Tull, Inhabiting Eden: Christians, the Bible, and the Ecological Crisis (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013), 91–108; and several of the essays in Norman C. Habel and Peter Trudinger, eds., Exploring Ecological Hermeneutics (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008).

9. Two volumes of essays that each include several articles by biblical scholars who explicitly engage contemporary animal studies are Stephen D. Moore, ed., Divinanimality: Animal Theory, Creaturely Theology (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014); and Jennifer Koosed, ed., The Bible and Posthumanism (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2014). For an earlier, and often overlooked, contribution by a biblical scholar who takes into account scholarship about animals being done elsewhere in the humanities, see Heather A. McKay, “Through the Eyes of Horses: Representation of the Horse Family in the Hebrew Bible,” in Alastair G. Hunter and Philip R. Davies, eds., Sense and Sensitivity: Essays on Reading the Bible in Memory of Robert Carroll (Sheffield, Eng.: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002).

10. The phrase “animal turn” is used explicitly, e.g., by Kari Weil, Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now? (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 3–24. It has been picked up in biblical studies by Stephen D. Moore, “Introduction: From Animal Theory to Creaturely Theology,” in Moore, ed. Divinanimality, 1–16. Michigan State University Press is publishing an entire series under the title The Animal Turn, edited by Linda Kaloff. In addition to Weil, other useful introductions to contemporary animal studies include Erica Fudge, Animal (London: Reaktion Books, 2002); Cary Wolfe, Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2003); id., “Human, All Too Human: ‘Animal Studies’ and the Humanities,” PMLA 124/2 (2009): 564–75; Marianne DeKoven, “Guest Column: Why Animals Now?” PMLA 124/2 (2009): 361–69; Margo DeMello, Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human–Animal Studies (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012); Dawne McCance, Critical Animal Studies: An Introduction (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013); Paul Waldau, Animal Studies: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Garry Marvin and Susan McHugh, eds., Routledge Handbook of Human–Animal Studies (New York: Routledge, 2014); and Matthew Calarco, Thinking through Animals: Identity, Difference, Indistinction (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015). Many other specialized studies and collections of essays also provide orientations to the field.

11. See, e.g., Paul Waldau and Kimberly Patton, eds., A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006); Celia Deane-Drummond and David Clough, eds., Creaturely Theology: On God, Humans and Other Animals (London: SCM Press, 2009); Celia Deane-Drummon, Rebecca Artinian-Kaiser, and David L. Clough, eds., Animals as Religious Subjects: Transdisciplinary Perspectives (London: Bloomsbury, 2013); Aaron S. Gross, The Question of the Animal and Religion: Theoretical Stakes, Practical Implications (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015); Donovan O. Schaefer, Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015). A much larger body of literature than this is devoted to the roles of, and attitudes toward, animals in various religious traditions, and to possibilities for rethinking those roles and attitudes.

12. Linda Kalof and Georgina M. Montgomery, eds., Making Animal Meaning (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2011).

13. Claude Lévi-Strauss, Totemism, trans. Rodney Needham (Boston: Beacon Press, 1963), 89.

14. Helpful resources on animal ethics include Susan J. Armstrong and Richard G. Botzler, The Animal Ethics Reader, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2003); Clare Palmer, Animal Ethics in Context (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010); Lori Gruen, Ethics and Animals: An Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); id., Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals (New York: Lantern Books, 2015); Tom L. Beauchamp and R. G. Frey, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015); and Calarco, Thinking through Animals.

15. Among many sources, see, e.g., Gross, Question of the Animal and Religion; Ted Genoways, The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food (New York: Harper, 2014); Timothy Pachirat, Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011); Daniel Imhoff, ed., The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories (Healdsburg, CA: Watershed Media; Berkeley: University of California Press [distributor], 2010); Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals (New York: Little, Brown, 2009); Steve Striffler, Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Fast Food (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005); Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2002), 247–86; Peter Singer, Animal Liberation, 3rd ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 95–183.

16. See, e.g., sources cited in chapter 7.

17. See, e.g., sources cited in chapter 6.

18. Ken Stone, Practicing Safer Texts: Food, Sex and Bible in Queer Perspective (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 23–45. See also Dale B. Martin, Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006).

19. See, e.g., my “Gender Criticism: The Un-Manning of Abimelech,” in Gale Yee, ed., Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies, 2nd ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007); and “Queer Criticism,” in Steven L. McKenzie and John Kaltner, eds., New Meanings for Ancient Texts: Biblical Criticisms and Their Applications (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013).

20. Stephen D. Moore and Yvonne Sherwood, The Invention of the Biblical Scholar: A Critical Manifesto (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011), 31.

21. DeMello, Animals and Society, 4–5.

22. Waldau, Animal Studies, 1, 10.

23. DeMello, Animals and Society, 19.

24. See, e.g., Athalya Brenner, I Am . . . : Biblical Women Tell Their Own Stories (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).

25. Weil, Thinking Animals, 6–7.

26. See, e.g. sources cited in chapter 6.

27. See esp., on this complex point, the work of Cary Wolfe, including Animal Rites; “Human, All Too Human”; What Is Posthumanism? (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010); and “Humane Advocacy and the Humanities: The Very Idea,” in Marianne DeKoven and Michael Lundblad, Species Matters: Humane Advocacy and Cultural Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).

28. Calarco, Thinking through Animals. Page numbers cited parenthetically below in the text discussion refer to this source. For a review of Calarco’s book that expands on the points made here, see Ken Stone, “How Do We Think Human/Animal Differences?” Marginalia Review of Books, March 14, 2016.

29. Singer, Animal Liberation; Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights: Updated with a New Preface (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004); Paola Cavalieri, The Animal Question: Why Nonhuman Animals Deserve Human Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

30. Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer, eds., The Great Ape Project: Equality beyond Humanity (London: Fourth Estate, 1993).

31. Calarco, Thinking through Animals, 28.

32. Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am, ed. Marie-Louise Mallet, trans. David Wills (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), esp. 3–18.

33. For an excellent example of a feminist philosophical study of animals written in dialogue with Derrida and emphasizing difference, see Kelly Oliver, Animal Lessons: How They Teach Us to Be Human (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).

34. On the complex relations among animal-oriented critical theory, advocacy for animals, and advocacy for marginalized humans, see DeKoven and Lundblad, eds., Species Matters.

35. Calarco, Thinking through Animals, 45.

36. Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal, trans. Kevin Attell (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004).

37. Calarco, Thinking through Animals, 53–54.

38. Ibid., 60. See Plumwood’s essay “Being Prey,” in James O’Reilly, Sean O’Reilly, and Richard Sterling, eds., The Ultimate Journey: Inspiring Stories of Living and Dying (San Francisco: Travelers’ Tales, 2000). Calarco also refers to Plumwood’s essay in “We Are Made of Meat: Interview with Matthew Calarco” (2012),

39. See also Plumwood’s Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason (New York: Routledge, 2002).

40. Mel Y. Chen, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 2.

41. Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998), 13; my emphasis.

42. Ken Stone, “Wittgenstein’s Lion and Balaam’s Ass: Talking with Others in Numbers 22–25,” in Koosed, ed., Bible and Posthumanism.

43. Aaron Gross, “Introduction and Overview: Animal Others and Animal Studies,” in Aaron Gross and Anne Vallely, eds., Animals and the Human Imagination: A Companion to Animal Studies (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 5.

44. Holmes Rolston III, “Creation: God and Endangered Species,” in Ke Chung Kim and Robert D. Weaver, eds., Biodiversity and Landscapes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 48.

45. Gross, Question of the Animal and Religion, 13.