Animals in Late Antiquity and Early Christianity

Ingvild Saelid Gilhus

in The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life

Published in print August 2014 | ISBN: 9780199589425
Published online March 2014 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Animals in Late Antiquity and Early Christianity

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This chapter examines the treatment of animals from various texts during the period from late antiquity to early Christianity. It discusses the references to animals in the New Testament and their use for sacrifice in the Roman Empire. It considers texts about the desert ascetics’ description of the habitat of wild and dangerous animals and their encounters with them and the use of animals in allegories and fables to provide moral models that are based on biblical texts. This chapter also analyses the justification for eating meat and describes the changes in ancient conceptions of animals when Christianity became the dominant religion.

Keywords: animals; late antiquity; early Christianity; New Testament; animal sacrifice; Roman Empire; ascetics; allegories; fables; moral models

Article.  5507 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Marriage and the Family

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