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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.

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. 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. Many animals share interests with humans that are ethically relevant, such as the interest of sentient beings in pleasure rather than pain.

Animal Dream Dictionary - Animal Dream Symbols & Meanings

Against such prejudice, identity theorists argue that beings with similar interests and capacities deserve similar consideration when ethical decisions are made. 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. 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. 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.

The “Animal Turn” in History

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. It is the machine itself that creates, reproduces, and maintains the distinction between human life and animal life. 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.

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. 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. 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.


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? 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.

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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. 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. 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.

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. 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.

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.

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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. 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. 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.

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.

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.


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. And what does this wisdom and discernment entail? Barbara J.


See, e. King and Lawrence E.

Experimenting on Animals: Inside The Monkey Lab

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. Zooarchaeological evidence also needs to be interpreted, of course, and the conclusions scholars draw from it are diverse. Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.

Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

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  6. One swallow doesn't make a summer. Put the cart before the horse. Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross. Straight from the horse's mouth. The ants are my friends, they're blowing in the wind. The best laid schemes of mice and men. In Turkic mythology , the wolf is a revered animal. The Turkic legends say the people were descendants of wolves. The legend of Asena is an old Turkic myth that tells of how the Turkic people were created. In the legend, a small Turkic village in northern China is raided by Chinese soldiers, with one baby left behind.

    An old she-wolf with a sky-blue mane named Asena finds the baby and nurses him. She later gives birth to half-wolf, half-human cubs who are the ancestors of the Turkic people. Ethnologist Ivar Lissner theorised that cave paintings of beings with human and non-human animal features were not physical representations of mythical shapeshifters, but were instead attempts to depict shamans in the process of acquiring the mental and spiritual attributes of various beasts.

    In Melanesia there is a belief in the tamaniu or atai , which is an animal counterpart to a person. It may be an eel, a shark, a lizard, or some other creature. This creature is corporeal, can understand human speech, and shares the same soul as its master, leading to legends which have many characteristics typical of shapeshifter tales, such as any death or injury affecting both forms at once. Among a sampled set of psychiatric patients, the belief of being part animal, or clinical lycanthropy , is generally associated with severe psychosis, but not always with any specific psychiatric diagnosis or neurological findings.

    Therians are individuals who believe or feel that they are non-human animals in a spiritual sense.