Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Eating and stewardship
I've been translating this week out of Leviticus 11: the dietary laws. I'm sure you all memorized this stuff in Sunday school--don't eat pork, catfish and bat. It's everything you ever wanted a theological discussion to be.

Anyway, this stuff has really piqued my interest this week. Particularly as I'm reading Jacob Milgrom's comments like this...

Together the food prohibitions, the blood prohibition, and ritual slaughter reveal an intricate ethical web of dietary restrictions that teaches the Israelites to have reverence for life by (1) reducing their choice of flesh to a few animals, (2) limiting the slaughter of even these few permitted animals to the most humane way and by the few who can qualify, and (3) prohibiting the consumption of the blood, as acknowledgment that bringing death to living things is a concession of God's grace and not a prvilege of humanity's whim The dietary system, then , is the Torah's prerequisite for the ethical life (108).

What he seems to be after is that what the people of God eat is directly related to the same people's stewardship over creation. In fact, the language of Leviticus 11 echoes the very same vocabulary of Genesis 1. The dietary laws may also be talked about as the "stewardship laws," that is, how the people of God refrain from abusing creation.

Where I live, I can drive over to the grocery store and buy pretty much anything I want, any time I want. Leviticus strikes to the heart of such consumerism, and particularly, such a utilitarian view of nature. Maybe these lists of animals not to eat are the lists of God's favorites. Don't touch 'em. He really likes those ones.

There's this other sense that Leviticus 11 is about how what the people of God eat matters to God. It's all enough to have me seriously thinking about paying closer attention to what I eat.

posted by Peter at 9:45 PM
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