This month, Edwin Meller Press published Animal Rights and Animal Laws in the Bible: The Daily Practice of Reverence for Life by Chilkuri Vasantha Rao (Andhra Christian Theological College). The publisher’s abstract follows.
What characterizes the proper ethical treatment of animals as outlined in the Old Testament? Animals play an important role in the Old Testament, and in particular the Pentateuch. Ritual sacrifices were a part of the ancient traditions, and there are rules written into the laws that pertain to this practice as well as the religious approach to animals and nature. In the oft quoted passage from Genesis the call is to not only be fruitful and multiply, but to reign over the earth and subdue it along with the animals that God created. The author explores the fallout of an anthropocentric way of approaching nature that he claims is a misreading of Genesis. Taken out of context this can seem as though ethics is arbitrary in the pursuit of such dominion, but in reality the Pentateuch shows a rather rigid set of laws revealing the careful treatment of animals as sacred beings necessary for the flourishing of human life on earth.