Vegetarian Sayings of Jesus -- And Other Vegetarian Passages from Early Christianity: Peter Was Veg, James Was Veg, Matthew Was Veg, etc.....

“Be on guard, so that your hearts do not become heavy with the eating of flesh and with the intoxication of wine and with the anxiety of the world, and that day come upon you suddenly; for as a snare it will come upon all who dwell upon the surface of the earth.” (Luke 21:34, Evangelion Da-Mepharreshe — Old Syriac-Aramaic Manuscript of the New Testament Gospels)

Like the Essenes, Jesus, his family, and the original followers were also vegetarians and opposed to all sacrifice of animals in the Jewish temple.

"I am come to do away with sacrifices, and if you cease not sacrificing, the wrath of God will not cease from you." (saying of Jesus in the Gospel of the Hebrews)

Stopping Animal Sacrifice in the Temple

"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the Temple, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said: 'Get out of here.' (John 2:13-16)

According to the Gospel of the Ebionites, Jesus also rejected the Passover meal:

"Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?"

To which he replied:

"I have no desire to eat the flesh of this Paschal Lamb with you."

The Jewish Christians called themselves “Ebionites.” “Ebionite” is a word derived from Hebrew meaning “The Poor.” They traced their vow of poverty back to the first Christian community described in the New Testament Acts of the Apostles (4:32-35), and were a spiritual or intentional community that shared all of their possessions in common. 

Jesus had a brother. He's referred to by scholars and historians as "James the Just". According to a wide variety of sources, James became Jesus's spiritual successor, the next leader of this group, referred to as the "Hebrew Christians" or "Ebionites". The well-known Dead Sea Scrolls scholar Robert Eisenman wrote a one thousand page book about him called, James the Just, The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The first words on the back cover of this book are: "James was a vegetarian."

“James, the brother of the Lord, lived on seeds and plants and touched neither meat nor wine.” (Epistulae ad Faustum XXII, 3)

“James, the brother of the Lord was holy from his mothers womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh.” (Hegesippus, quoted in The Church History of Eusebius, book 2, chapter 23)

And James became the successor of Christ and next leader of the Jesus Movement! The Gospel of Thomas, Saying 12: “The disciples said to Jesus; ‘We are aware that you will depart from us. Who will be our leader?’ Jesus said to him, ‘No matter where you come, it is to James the Just that you shall go, for whose sake heaven and earth have come to exist.’”(Bently Layton’s translation)

Peter said, “I live on olives and bread, to which I rarely only add vegetables.” (Clementine Homilies 12,6; also see, Recognitions 7,6)

“And happiness is found in the practice of virtue. Accordingly, the Apostle Matthew partook of seeds, and nuts, hard-shelled fruits, and vegetables, without flesh.” (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 1)

“John never ate meat.” (Church historian Hegesipp according to Eusebius, History of the Church II 2:3)

The following passage is from the Recognitions of Clement. This Ebionite Christian author has very nice things to say about those in India who worship One God, follow peaceful customs and laws, and are vegetarian or vegan. Imagine! Clearly he sees parallels between his own religion and that of his brothers and sisters “in the Indian countries.” This is one of the most amazing passages I know of in the extra-canonical scriptures, as it is a rare example of one religion (Ebionite, Hebrew Christianity) recognizing “Truth” in another religion (Hinduism), a rare inter-faith moment in human history. The Recognitions of Clement, and The Clementine Homilies are surviving Jewish-Christian texts representing an Ebionite vegetarian point of view:

“There are likewise amongst the Bactrians,
in the Indian countries,
immense multitudes of Brahmans,
who also themselves,
from the tradition of their ancestors,
and peaceful customs and laws,
neither commit murder nor adultery,
nor worship idols,
nor have the practice of eating animal food,
are never drunk,
never do anything maliciously,
but always fear God.”

Recognitions of Clement, Book 9, Chapter 22, Brahmans Volume Eight, of the, Ante-Nicene Fathers, page 187, T & T Clark Eerdmans edition.

Prayer of Thanksgiving in the Nag Hammadi Library and Corpus Hermeticum

This the prayer that they spoke:

"We give thanks to You!
Every soul and heart is lifted up to You,
undisturbed name, honored with the name 'God'
and praised with the name 'Father',
for to everyone and everything (comes) the fatherly kindness
and affection and love,
and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain,
giving us mind, speech, (and) knowledge:
mind, so that we may understand You,
speech, so that we may expound You,
knowledge, so that we may know You.
We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge.
We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself.
We rejoice because while we are in (the) body,
You have made us divine through Your knowledge.

"The thanksgiving of the one who attains to You is one thing:
that we know You.
We have known You, Light of mind.
Life of life, we have known You.
Womb of every creature, we have known You.
Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father,
we have known You.
Eternal permanence of the begetting Father,
thus have we worshiped Your goodness.

"There is one petition that we ask:
we would be preserved in knowledge.
And there is one protection that we desire:
that we not stumble in this kind of life."

"When they had said these things in the prayer, they embraced each
other and they went to eat their holy food, which has no blood in it." *

http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/prat.html

* "Vegetarian food" -- footnote from the Marvin Meyer translation of this in, The Gnostic Scriptures.

This passage is also found in the Epilogue of Asclepius, in "HERMETICA," translated by Sir Walter Scott: "Having prayed thus, let us betake ourselves to a meal unpolluted by flesh [animalia] of living things."

The G.R.S. Mead translation of the same verse: "With this desire we now betake us to our pure and fleshless meal."

"With such hopes we turn to a pure meal that includes no living thing." (Asclepius, translated in "Hermetica", Brian Copenhaver, Cambridge University Press)

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for your posting James, interesting!

My pleasure. I knew I had to write about these veg quotes and call attention to them online. And they all come from old sources that scholars are familiar with. They've been with us the whole time (church historians, apocrypha, early church fathers), but forgotten or not valued by the pro-meat or 'carnism culture' that dominates most religious institutions and denominations. 

Vegetarian Gospels of Early Christianity (the Hebrew Christians Were Veg): https://medium.com/sant-mat-meditation-and-spirituality/collection-...

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