Animal studies may be a recent academic development, but our fascination with animals is nothing new. Surviving cave paintings are of animal forms, and closer to us, as Ken Stone points out, animals populate biblical literature from beginning to end. This book explores the significance of animal studies for the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. The field has had relatively little impact on biblical interpretation to date, but combined with biblical scholarship, it sheds useful light on animals, animal symbolism, and the relations among animals, humans, and God—not only for those who study biblical literature and its ancient context, but for contemporary readers concerned with environmental, social, and animal ethics.
Without the presence of domesticated and wild animals, neither biblical traditions nor the religions that make use of the Bible would exist in their current forms. Although parts of the Bible draw a clear line between humans and animals, other passages complicate that line in multiple ways and challenge our assumptions about the roles animals play therein. Engaging influential thinkers, including Jacques Derrida, Donna Haraway, and other experts in animal and ecological studies, Reading the Hebrew Bible with Animal Studies shows how prehumanist texts reveal unexpectedly relevant dynamics and themes for our posthumanist age.
About the author
Ken Stone is Professor of Bible, Culture, and Hermeneutics at the Chicago Theological Seminary.
"Most people who read the Hebrew Bible don't see or hear the animals. But they are everywhere, and they are complicated. This book looks at all of them—the good, the bad, and the ugly animals. Well worth reading if you are interested in literary studies, Biblical studies, or animals."
—Laura Hobgood, Southwestern University
"This was a book begging to be written, and I can think of no one better qualified to write it than Ken Stone. He has descended more deeply into the field of animal studies than any other scholar of the Hebrew Bible. His ecological sensibilities, theoretical acumen, and incisive exegetical arguments open up fresh perspectives on overread biblical texts and tired scholarly debates."
—Stephen D. Moore, The Theological School, Drew University
"Reading the Hebrew Bible with Animal Studies is an excellent book that offers a much-needed interface between biblical and animal studies....[Stone] gives biblical texts—and animals—the opportunity to contribute to both a complete reimagining of the Hebrew Bible and contemporary debates in animal studies. This monograph is poised to become a key work in the field."
—Anne Létourneau, Reading Religion
"Stone's monograph succeeds on several fronts. It serves as an excellent introduction to the field of animal studies for scholars who may not be familiar with this discipline. His applications of these ideas to biblical passages are always interesting, and often illuminate the text in new ways. What's more, the monograph offers a roadmap for scholars working with contemporary theories of all kinds as to how these theories can be introduced into biblical studies while building on the foundation of historical-critical scholarship."
—Brandon R. Grafius, Horizons in Biblical Theology
"This superb book fills a void in scholarship and deserves to be widely read....I strongly recommend it for scholars, pastors, graduate students, and other interested readers who care about animals and the future of our planet."––Barry R. Huff, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology
"Ken Stone's groundbreaking work...invites readers to enter into the animal world to discover the contributions that animals have made not only to life in ancient Israel but also to the understanding of the Bible's poems and stories....[This] wonderfully crafted, insightful, and accessible book is a 'must read' for all humans on Planet Earth."
—Carol J. Dempsey, OP, Horizons
"In the context of a growing interest in the multiple relationships between human and other animals, this is an important contribution to the literature, which should enjoy a broad readership."
—Philip J. Sampson, Journal of Animal Ethics