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New Book from Academics Looks at the Often-Neglected Relationship Between Religions and Animals

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Animal Theologians” by Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey, published by Oxford University Press. The latest book by reverend professor Andrew Linzey and Dr Clair Linzey, Directors of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, is now available.

Animal Theologians, which looks at the relationship between religion and animals, has been eight years in the making and is described as a “wonderful gift” to the theological community.

The book has been written based on the premise that many people who have thought about God have not thought about animals or the relationship between the two. But some have, including some exceptionally famous figures, such as John Wesley, Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Albert Schweitzer.

The editors have brought together Jewish, Unitarian, Christian, transcendentalist, Muslim, Hindu, Dissenting, deist and Quaker voices, offering unique theological perspectives that reverse the neglect of non-human animals. This work is an act of reclaiming different traditions for animals by recovering lost voices.

The book defines theology as an understanding of the inner logic of a faith position. It then moves to consider the neglect of animals within various theological traditions.

Following the introduction, “Animal Theologians” is divided into three parts, beginning with the pioneers who first saw a relationship between animals and divinity, moving on to those who contributed to the expansion of social sensibility to animals, and ending with the work of contemporary theologians. 

For example, in chapter one, Justin Begley looks at seventeenth-century French priest, mathematician, historian, and philosopher Pierre Gassendi and his defence of a vegetarian diet. In part two, there is an essay by Linda Johnson discussing John Ruskin’s views on vivisection. In contrast, part three includes a chapter on C. S. Lewis’s most important theological musings about animals.

The essays in this volume use contextual and historical background to describe what led animal theologians to their beliefs and then pave the way for further developments in this expanding field. 

“This insightful anthology is a treasure trove of often hidden gems. This parade of writings, from the early pioneers to the most current thought leaders, offers a library of resources for all who wish to deepen their understanding of animal theology. Andrew Linzey and Clair Linzey have given us a wonderful gift,” says Paul Kirbas, President and Paul Tillich professor of theology and culture at the Graduate Theological Foundation

“A broad-ranging engagement with seminal figures in the history of animal theology, this book is required reading for anyone seriously engaged in constructive theological reflection in animal theology and ethics,” maintains James Helmer, associate professor of Theological Ethics, Xavier University, Ohio.

About the book and its authors 

  • The reverend professor Andrew Linzey is the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics director. He has held the world’s first post in theology and animals at the University of Oxford and has been a member of the faculty of theology for 28 years. 
  • Dr Clair Linzey is the Frances Power Cobbe professor of animal theology at the Graduate Theological Foundation and deputy director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. She authorises “Developing Animal Theology” (Routledge, 2021).
  • The Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics is an independent centre pioneering ethical perspectives on animals through academic research, teaching, and publication. The Centre comprises more than 100 academic fellows.

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