Thinking Out Loud

March 30, 2022

Cats in the Bible

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:56 pm

As some of you know, my wife is working on her Masters degree in theology, and we thought you might like to have a peek at the first page of her current essay project. You may even have suggestions. I’m wondering about her getting this published when the course ends. The photograph is not part of her thesis.

by Ruth Wilkinson

Part One – Genesis

There are no cats in Genesis.

Within the creation account of Genesis 1, we read of “beasts” (chay•yay), a general term that must include all warm-blooded animals, within which may have been the primitive precursor of felis catus (or the common house cat). The nature of that relationship and its evolutionary implications have not been satisfactorily studied by theologians.

Part Two – Exodus

There are no cats in Exodus.

Despite the theory found in popular archaeology that “the ancient Egyptians worshipped the cat,” this potentially important theological statement is not supported by the text. Scripture indicates no presence of cats either curled up on Moses’ lap, or as one of the great plagues. Some suggest that the parting of the Reed Sea may have been prompted by the reluctance of Miriam’s moggie to step into the water, but most consider this apocryphal.

Part Three – Leviticus

There are no cats in Leviticus.

Despite the detailed household and animal related laws and ordinances found in the Levitical law, cats are remarkable in their lack of mention. Some suggest that this is due to their absence in the camp of Israel. However, as seen above, their presence could reasonably be inferred after the nation’s departure from Egypt.  These interpretations point to laws about touching dead animals, some of which could be cats, and some of which could be dead mice left at the front door. It seems more likely that they simply didn’t make it as far as Sinai (see Herding Cats and Hebraicism by N. O. T. Wright et al).

 

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