An Examination of the Relationship between Humans and Animals in the Hebrew Bible

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An Examination of the Relationship between Humans and Animals in the Hebrew Bible

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Title: An Examination of the Relationship between Humans and Animals in the Hebrew Bible
Author: Windham, Mary
Citation: Windham, Mary. 2012. An Examination of the Relationship between Humans and Animals in the Hebrew Bible. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the relationship between humans and animals in the Hebrew Bible. Although the Hebrew Bible contains a multitude of different perspectives on animals, I argue that there are two basic categories into which these perspectives fall. One group of biblical texts, most notably Gen 1:28, affirms humans’ dominion over animals. Despite the ubiquity of this perspective in scholarly literature, an examination of the entire biblical corpus suggests that these texts represent the minority. A larger group of biblical texts, most notably Job 39:9, depict animals as beyond the dominion of human beings. Rather than attempting to account for every mention of animals in the Hebrew Bible, I will examine a select group of passages that represent each of the two positions. Regarding passages that depict animals as under humans’ dominion, I conclude that while these passages suggest that humans have some authority over animals, that dominion is neither complete nor absolute. Regarding passages that depict animals as beyond humans’ dominion, I will conclude that they in fact indicate that animals are under the direct dominion of God. The Hebrew Bible nowhere grants humans absolute dominion over animals but instead typically presents humans as having little, if any, dominion over animals. In general, the Hebrew Bible presents humans as possessing dominion over domestic animals and lacking dominion over wild animals. This presentation probably reflects the actual relationship that the Israelites had to the animals around them.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10288409
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