Animals and the Bible


Animal Studies is a growing discipline, which has recently had fruitful intersections with philosophy, theology, and literary studies (see the work of e.g., Georgio Agamben, David Clough, Jacques Derrida, Donna Haraway, and Peter Singer). Animals, and the question of animal ethics, are also growing concerns in the contemporary world, particularly in light of modern industrialised farming trends and the pressing threat of extinctions. Animals have always had a presence in biblical scholarship—whether it be in relation to purity laws (e.g., Douglas, 1966), zooarchaeology (e.g., Borowski, 1998), or animal symbolism (e.g., Strawn, 2005)—but the intersection with critical Animal Studies has, until recently, been lacking. There has, however, been a recent flourishing in this area (see e.g., Koosed, 2014; Stone, 2018; Strømmen, 2018). This research unit aims to continue this dialogue by facilitating critical thought about the status and role of animals in the Bible and related texts. Important questions include: the role of animals in the biblical world; animal ethics in relation to the Bible; and the relationships and boundaries between animals, humans, and God. Beyond this, any research within the intersection of Biblical and Animal studies is encouraged. This nascent field of study has no set methodology, and we hope to incorporate a range of interdisciplinary approaches.


Animals, Animal Studies, Interdisciplinary, Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, New Testament


Suzanna R Millar
University of Edinburgh

Peter Joshua Atkins
University of Chester

Member Area

Wuppertal 2021 Call for Papers

Much scholarly work has focussed on biblical animals generally, or on specific larger mammals which inhabit the text. However, little has been done to thoroughly assess how invertebrates/insects function and act within different biblical/extra-biblical material. In 2021, the Animals and the Bible Research Unit are interested in the locusts, worms, flies, bees and other creatures which creep across the page. We welcome papers which assess the roles these animals play in the Bible, how they were understood in the ancient world, and how their depictions have been received in post-biblical tradition. Despite this focus, any papers are encouraged which explore the role and status of animals in the biblical world, in biblical texts, and in cognate literature. Papers with an interdisciplinary approach are particularly welcomed.

The Annual Conference 2021
takes place 3-6 August
in Wuppertal. Read more.