Thursday, 1 May 2014

Meat-Eating Lion Good, Plant-Eating Lion Bad, New Book on Genesis Suggests

A new book argues for animal death before the Fall.

Joel Kontinen

Yesterday (30th April), Christianity Today published a web-only article entitled Reading Genesis Without Philosophical Blinders. However, it seems that something happened as CT changed the title to Reading Genesis, Red in Tooth and Claw, which certainly describes the ideas of Ronald Osborn’s book Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering (IVP Academic) more accurately.

Writer Tim Stafford says that a traditional understanding of creation is “overly literal”. If this is so, then Jesus and the Apostle Paul were overly literal in the sense that they believed Genesis 1 and 2 to be historically true.

We might all agree with Osborn (and Stafford) that animal suffering, whether after or before the Fall, is a problem. However, Osborn thinks that a lion that would not be a predator would be an “unlion”.

But in light of the promised restoration “the cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 11:7), would it still be an unlion?

Methinks not.

Moreover, recent history knows of some lions (and other predators) that have absolutely refused to eat meat.

This is an echo of the original creation. In Genesis 1: 30, God said, “ ‘Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so.”

One might suggest that philosophical blinders – in the form of some degree of scientific naturalism – are needed for reading Genesis in a way in which good is not good and green plants are red meat, and the Fall hardly did anything, and the Millennial Restoration is not really a restoration at all.


Stafford, Tim. 2014. Reading Genesis, Red in Tooth and Claw. Christianity Today (April 30).