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

Current Term:



Peter Joshua Atkins 
University of Edinburgh

Suzanna R Millar
University of Edinburgh

Member Area

Sofia 2024 Call for Papers

The Annual Conference in 2024 will take place at Sofia University which, as part of its Museum of Palaeontology and Historical Geology, houses an impressive and well-preserved skeleton of a now-extinct Deinotherium. To reflect the university’s remarkable collection of fossilised remains, this year we are looking for papers which engage with extinction in the Bible. Proposals might focus on: biblical creatures which are now (locally) extinct in the Levant; the way in which the Bible addresses the elimination of wild animals from the land or environment; or how the Bible has contributed to the global decline of wild fauna. In addition, we are also interested in any proposals which engage with wild animals, or animals generally, in the biblical world.