This article will briefly attempt to discuss unclean meats primarily from the perspective of New Testament Church.
It addresses several points which are raised to justify consumption of unclean meats. It also explains, from historical sources, when some began to believe that Christians could eat unclean animals.
It begins start by addressing five arguments that have been raised supporting the consumption of unclean meats and then discussing the biblical response to these arguments. Later, it addresses certain other Catholic and Protestant points.
The primary "proof" text is Mark 7:18-19 in which Jesus declares,
Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods? (NKJV throughout except as otherwise noted).
There are at least potential seven problems using this as a "proof" text.
First of all, "thus purifying all foods" is not in all manuscripts, such as the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament Text and thus may have been improperly added, nor is that the proper translation.
Secondly, even if the above should be part of scripture, it is be more literally be translated purging all the foods as the Greek term for "the" is in the text that contains the rest of that statement.
Here is how J.P. Green's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (a standard scholarly reference) literally translates Mark 7:18-19:
Do you not perceive that everything having entered from the outside into the man is not able to defile him? (This is) because it does not enter into his heart but into the belly, and goes out through the toilet bowl, purging all the foods.
Hence, Jesus (presuming that the Greek words relating to purging are actually what He said) appears to be saying that the digestive tract purges all the foods that go into it. He is NOT saying that all unclean meats are then clean.
Thirdly, notice that Jesus is asking a question in either verse 19 or 20 according to the translators. He did not make a declaration that unclean meats are clean or are food.
Fourthly, the context of Mark 7 was the Pharisees complaint that Jesus' disciples did not wash their hands in the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:1-3)--it had nothing to do with unclean meats. If it did, the Pharisees would have most likely raised this charge against Jesus when they brought Jesus before Pilate. In case Jesus' meaning was unclear, in Matthew's synoptic account he plainly taught what He meant: "to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:20).
Fifthly, Jesus did not consider all animals to be food, nor did He ever eat any. If Jesus declared all animals to be clean, would the Bible still use unclean animals as symbols of uncleanliness?
In Matthew 13:47-48, Jesus tells a parable about fishing with a net and catching "every kind" and then separating the good from the bad; possibly meaning the clean from the unclean--there would be no "bad" if Jesus was declaring all meats as clean.
In Luke 11:11-12, Jesus teaches that bread, fish, and eggs, but not stones, serpents (snakes, an unclean animal), or scorpions are good for food (see parallel account in Matthew 7:9-11).
Jesus clearly knew what unclean meats were and clearly taught that they were not fit to be food.
Actually, unclean animals are never mentioned as food anywhere in the New Testament--they are either mentioned as beasts of burden (John 12:15) or mentioned in a negative fashion (Matthew 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-12; Revelation 16:13; 18:2).
Sixthly, after the incident in Mark 7 (and Matthew 15) Jesus said, "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel" (Matthew 23:24).
Thus Jesus apparently still considered gnats and camels to be unclean, thus this verifies that He never declared all animals to be clean.
Seventhly, Peter and others apparently did not understand that they could eat unclean meat from this or Peter would not have objected to it in Acts 10:14 where he says he never had eaten any unclean meat (he also would have known nothing was unclean IF he thought that was what Jesus was teaching in Mark 7). Even the Orthodox scholar and teacher Origen realized that as he wrote:
Peter himself seems to have observed for a considerable time the Jewish observances enjoined by the law of Moses, not having yet learned from Jesus to ascend from the law... Peter "went up into the upper room to pray about the sixth hour. And he became very hungry, and would have eaten"...Peter is represented as still observing the Jewish customs respecting clean and unclean animals. (Origen. Contra Celsus, Book II, Chapter 1)
Although it is translated as "defiled" in Mark 7:2,20, "made common" is probably a better translation.
It cannot mean unclean.
Koinos is the same word translated as "common" in Titus 1:4 (our koinos faith) and Jude 3 (our koinos salvation), obviously faith and salvation are not unclean (though they are common in the sense they are available to Jews and Gentiles).
Actually, one of the problems in the NKJV and most other translations is that they translate koinos as common in Titus 1:14 and Jude 3, but translate it as unclean--a meaning that it does not have--in Romans 14:14.
Koinoo is also mistranslated as unclean in Hebrews 9:13, where it also should be translated to be "common".
In Galatians 5:19 we see that "uncleanness" is still a "work of the flesh". In Ephesians 5:5 it states that no "unclean person...has any inheritance in the Kingdom of God".
What many do not realize is that many forms of Old Testament uncleanness were not prohibited, but eating unclean meats specifically was (Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14). Thus, the scriptures do indicate that there is a difference in the uncleanness of animals compared to many other forms of uncleanness.
The book of Revelation was written sixty or more years after Jesus' death, yet Revelation 16:13 states that unclean spirits resemble frogs (a biblically unclean animal)--why use unclean animals as a symbol if they were now clean? Unclean spirits are also mentioned in many places in the New Testament, such as the Book of Acts (5:16; 8:7).
Revelation 18:2 states that Babylon was filled with every unclean and hateful bird, plus every unclean beast. In many translations of Revelation 18:2, several words are not being translated and the part about unclean beasts is often missing.
Notice the literal translation of the Greek, with my translation in italics where the translation program consulted erred or intentionally left the word untranslated:
2532.. 2896..... 1722. <2478 >. 5456.... <9999 > 3004......4098..... 4098....... 897... 3588 3173 .2532... 1096
And... he cried .with .mightily.. a voice, strong.... saying,.is fallen, is fallen, Babylon the... great and ..is become
9999.... 2732..... <1140 > 2532 9999 5438.. 3956... 4151....169....... 2532 5438 ..3956.... 3732. 169...... 2532.. 5438 3956
the... habitation of devils, and ..the ....hold of every spirit, unclean.. and.. a cage of every bird.unclean..and...cage..every
2342 ....169.. 2532 3404
beast.unclean and hateful (Revelation 18:2. Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright (c) 1994 by Biblesoft).
Or in other words, Revelation 18:2 in somewhat normal English should be literally translated as:
And he cried with a strong voice, mightily saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every unclean spirit, and a cage of every unclean bird and a cage of every unclean and hateful beast."
Revelation 18:2 is apparently both literal and figurative.
If it is intended to be literal, some birds and beasts still exist that the Bible considers to be unclean. If it is only intended to be figurative, there would be no reason to link the terms "unclean" and "bird" if all birds were now clean or "unclean" and "beast" if no animals is unclean.
Thus it appears that Revelation 18:2 is telling us that not all animals are clean and that Babylon the Great is Unclean. Thus there are things that are in the world that we should avoid.
This is consistent with 1 John 2:15-16,
Do not love the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.
Could not consuming unclean meats be considered a "lust of the flesh" that we Christians are to avoid? Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote:
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lust of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie (Romans 1:24-25)
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ (Ephesians 4:19-20).
Do you walk as the Gentiles walk? Gentiles eat unclean animals. Do you eat unclean meats?
Paul urges such who claim to be Christians to change and repent,
For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness (Romans 6:19)
I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of their uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced (II Corinthians 12:21).
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as fitting for saints" (Ephesians 5:3).
Paul also wrote,
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5).
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
"I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people."
"Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you" (2 Corinthians 6:16-17).
For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced (2 Corinthians 12:20-21).
The carcasses of unclean animals were specifically prohibited from being touched in Leviticus 11:24-31 (though touching live ones, like camels, was not prohibited).
Notice there were three reasons given in the Bible for avoiding unclean animals:
You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. 'This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth, To distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten' (Leviticus 11:45-47).
Notice that God wanted people to be holy, to know the difference between clean and unclean, and to know which animals may and may not be eaten. Are Christians supposed to be a holy people?
Certainly (see I Peter 2:9).
But notice something that the Apostle Peter wrote:
...not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:14-16).
Now where is that first written in the Bible to be holy because God is holy?
It is Leviticus 11:44 & 45 where God is talking about avoiding unclean meat! The statement Peter quoted about being Holy as God is holy is repeated only three more times in the Hebrew Bible, the first in Leviticus 19:2 where it then discusses the Sabbath and the second in Leviticus 20:7 where it teaches about not being involved with witchcraft and then keeping God's statutes. Does your teach teach that you are to be holy as God? Does it also teach that a sign of being unholy would be eating biblically unclean meats or violating the Sabbath?
The final time is in Leviticus 20:25-26 where God explains about avoiding unclean animals and being holy. So what could Peter have been talking about? The only subjects from the Old Testament could have unclean meat, the seventh-day Sabbath, or the statutes in the Law, including witchcraft. However, the context says to avoid lusts. Lust is unlawful desire. Apparently Peter is including desires such as eating that which is unlawful.
Paul emphasized that Christians were not to be unclear nor be mislead by those who did not teach that:
7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8)
Notice that God says that eating unclean animals makes one abominable and that God's people are to be separate:
You shall therefore distinguish between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine (Leviticus 20:25-26).
Notice what the Apostles' Paul and John wrote:
Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you (II Corinthians 6:17).
And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues (Revelation 18:4).
Also notice what John was inspired to write:
He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still (Revelation 22:11).
Notice that the holy are distinguished from the filthy (the unclean).
Notice that Paul did not want Gentile Christians to participate in uncleanness and that is something that they should repent of. Paul also wrote:
For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them (Ephesians 5:5-7).
Is eating biblical prohibited foods or not eating them a sign of disobedience?
Although some feel that Christians can eat unclean meats, Paul wrote,
For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness (I Thessalonians 4:7).
the Lord knows how...to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority (II Peter 2:9-10).
Some, sadly, despise biblical authority to eat whatsoever they lust after.
However, no one in the New Testament (or Old Testament for that matter) called of God ever ate unclean meats. The vision to Peter in Acts 10 is usually cited as proof. Scripture, though, does not say that unclean animals were cleansed (nor did Peter believe he was supposed to eat unclean meat). Let us notice that Peter, years after Jesus' death, still had never eaten any unclean meat:
"...I have never eaten anything common or unclean" (Acts 10:14).
Thus it should be clear that Peter never thought that while Jesus was alive that He somehow made unclean meats food. And there is no evidence that any early Christian ate unclean animals.
In the vision (Acts 10:12) it does not say that all the animals shown were unclean, it says there were all kinds of beast and birds (various beasts and most birds were clean--Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14). If there were only unclean animals, then Peter probably would not have included the term "koinos" in his response.
Peter did not then nor had he ever eaten any unclean meat, nor did he understand that he was to from the vision in Acts (Acts 10:17).
What Peter understood from the vision was that God did not want him to call Gentiles common or unclean (Acts 10:28).
Perhaps I should add that many of the Jews at that time believed that if something (like an apple) touched a pig, it became compromised by that contact or “common.” That is perhaps why Peter, in Acts 10, says he has eaten nothing “common`` or unclean.
Peter was corrected by God in that dream to eliminate the faulty concept of “common” by association with the Gentiles, and then learns that all men are to be presented the gospel (Acts 10:17-48). The category of unclean is not eliminated through various inaccurate interpretations of that dream.
Paul tells the Corinthians in I Cor.10:25, that they can eat anything sold in the "shambles"(taken from the Greek-"makellon"-meaning 'butcher's stall or meat market). Corinth was a Roman province, and pork was sold in their meat markets and butcher's stalls. So why did Paul say this to these Gentile converts?
No one in the Bible nor any true faithful Christian understood that passage to mean that they could eat unclean animals like pigs. The "stalls" comment had to do with how it was killed or if offered to idols, or somehow common etc., which is why Paul mentioned "asking no questions for conscience' sake" (1 Corinthians 10:25) not if it was a clean animal or not. Who would buy a piece of meat and not ask what animal it came from?
The Apostle Paul somewhat referred to eating "common" animals in the following:
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.
9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:4-13)
Animals offered to idols would have been killed by people who were not practicing the faith of the Old Testament, and in that sense may have been considered to be "common." Paul said that they could be eaten, but not if that would offend someone you were with.
This is the only place that the KJV/NKJV translates the word koinos as unclean. As mentioned earlier, koinos should be translated as common; if it truly means unclean then so is our faith (Titus 1:4) and salvation (Jude 3) since the word koinos describes each of those. In Romans 14:14 Paul states that nothing is common IN ITSELF, this is true and consistent with the rest of the Bible.
Unclean animals are not food, clean animals are. The only animals ever shown to be eaten in the New Testament were clean ones (Matthew 14:19-21; 26:19-21; Luke 11:11-13; 24:41-43; John 21:13-15). Jesus Himself declared that fish and eggs were good to eat, but that scorpions and serpents were not (Luke 11:11-13).
The context of Romans 14 clearly shows that the subject is vegetarianism (Rom 14:2), not a discussion of whether or not unclean meats should be eaten. If this scripture (or any other) declares unclean meat fit for food, why doesn't it say so? Why do we never read of any Christian eating meats previously considered to be unclean in the New Testament?
Romans 14:14 simply does not say that all unclean meats are clean food. Romans 14:20 says that all things are pure (or clean). It certainly is not trying to say sin is clean. It does not say all meats are clean.
The context shows that Paul is discussing whether or not it is acceptable to eat animal flesh, and then he mentions alcoholic beverages, etc. (Romans 14:21). I agree that all food which is not diseased is clean. However, I am unaware of any scripture which states unclean animals are food.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:6-12).
In other words, Paul is saying that many of the things written in the Old Testament were written for examples for Christians so that we should not lust after things those who were supposed to be God's people, lusted for.
There is the example of Daniel who was greatly beloved (Daniel 10:19) by God:
Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat (Daniel 1:8, KJV).
So one who was greatly beloved set the example of refusing to eat the meat/food of Gentiles (nor did his companions, 1:11-12).
The Apostle Peter noted:
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps (1 Peter 2:21).
Jesus did not eat unclean meat.
Are you following His example?
Peter also wrote:
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away (1 Peter 5:2-4).
There is no record in the Bible of any church leaders/overseers/bishops eating unclean meat. Nor is there any hint that this was accepted by any who professed Christ until at least 150 years after Jesus died. Does your pastor/church leader follow the biblical example of not eating unclean meat?
The Apostle Paul wrote:
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern (Philippians 3:17).
Paul did not eat unclean meat or he would not have been able to state:
"Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all" (Acts 25:8; see also Acts 21:24).
Since Paul did not eat unclean meat are you following his example?
The Bible warns in a prophecy that people will eat unclean meat--this is a prophecy that has not been yet fulfilled, hence it should be clear from those that read and plan to live by "every word of God" that they should not eat unclean meat. Notice this prophecy:
They shall not dwell in the LORD's land, But Ephraim shall return to Egypt, And shall eat unclean things in Assyria. They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, Nor shall their sacrifices be pleasing to Him (Hosea 9:3-4).
It is important to understand that the Bible clearly teaches that God will punish those who eat unclean meat in the future:
"Those who consecrate and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following the one in the midst of those who eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things--they will meet their end together," declares the LORD. "And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see my glory..."(Isaiah 66:17-18 NIV).
Do you really think God thinks it is acceptable for Christians to eat the flesh of pigs and rats and other abominable things?
Since the New Testament complements the Old, and warns against uncleanness and unclean creatures, how have certain Protestant and Catholic theologians justified the position that it is acceptable to consume biblically unclean animals?
Although various theologians have pointed to the other points discussed earlier in this article, none of those verses allow for Christians to eat unclean meat. Nor are there any records into the mid-second century that show that any professing Christians ever ate unclean meat.
However, allegorical Gnostics from Alexandria Egypt may have been the first to teach that this was acceptable for Christians. The following is from an early second century document falsely titled The Epistle of Barnabas (it is 'falsely' titled because the biblical Barnabas did not write it) and it is not accepted as scripture by Protestant, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, or Church of God followers:
But in that Moses said, Thou shalt not eat the swine, nor the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the crow, nor any fish that hath not scales in itself, he had in his mind three doctrines. For in the end he saith unto them in Deuteronomy, And I will arrange before this people my ordinances. The commandment of God is not, therefore, that they should not eat; but Moses spake in a spiritual sense. He spake of the swine with this meaning: Thou shalt not cleave, he meaneth, unto men of this sort, who are like unto swine, for when they become wanton they forget their Lord, but when they are in want they think upon the Lord; even as the swine when it eateth knoweth not its lord, but when it is hungry it crieth, and when it hath received it is again silent (Apostolic Fathers, Epistle of Barnabas, 10:1-3, 1885 translation by Charles H. Hoole).
The above is certainly not in the Bible. God told Moses to write statements such as:
Also the swine is unclean for you, because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud; you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses (Deuteronomy 14:8).
And while some may wish to speculate as to why God made such an ordinance, it is certainly wrong to conclude, as the so-called Epistle of Barnabas does, that God did not command that swine are not to be eaten.
It may be of interest to note that Alexandria appears to have been the original home of allegorists amongst those that professed Christ, as well as the home of various Gnostic and semi-gnostic leaders. Do Christians wish to base their faith on those who do not believe what the Bible says?
Even though the heretic Justin advocated eating unclean meats, even as late as around 180 A.D., it appears that even Catholic leaders still considered certain animals to be clean, with others unclean, as Irenaeus' account below suggests:
Now the law has figuratively predicted all these, delineating man by the [various] animals: whatsoever of these, says [the Scripture], have a double hoof and ruminate, it proclaims as clean; but whatsoever of them do not possess one or other of these [properties], it sets aside by themselves as unclean...The unclean, however, are those which do neither divide the hoof nor ruminate...But as to those animals which do indeed chew the cud, but have not the double hoof, and are themselves unclean...the Lord says, "Why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say to you?" For men of this stamp do indeed say that they believe in the Father and the Son, but they never meditate as they should upon the things of God, neither are they adorned with works of righteousness; but, as I have already observed, they have adopted the lives of swine and of dogs, giving themselves over to filthiness, to gluttony, and recklessness of all sorts. Justly, therefore, did the apostle call all such "carnal" (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 8 , Verse 4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).
Notice that Irenaeus, in the late second century, specifically taught that certain animals are unclean. And while Irenaeus is also describing how humans can be clean or unclean, he never suggests that one should eat anything that is unclean--especially since he condemns gluttony and adopting the lives of swine and dogs (both of whom eat unclean meats).
So how come consumption of unclean meat became common?
Well in addition to the Gnostic writings, the answer might lie in a Catholic document titled Liber Pontificalis.
According to the Liber Pontificalis, this was changed by Bishop Eleutherius shortly after the time the above was written:
He also decreed that no kind of food in common use should be rejected especially by the Christian faithful, inasmuch as God created it; provided it was a rational food and fit for human kind (Book of the Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) 2nd edition. Translation by Raymond Davis. Liverpool University Press - Translated Texts for Historians, Liverpool, 2001, p.17).
The Catholic Encyclopedia states:
The "Liber Pontificalis" ascribes to Pope Eleutherius a decree that no kind of food should be despised by Christians (Et hoc iterum firmavit ut nulla esca a Christians repudiaretur, maxime fidelibus, quod Deus creavit, quæ tamen rationalis et humana est).
It should be noted that Roman bishops were not called Popes that early (that did not happen until the late fourth century). Anyway, according to Lopes book The Popes, Eleutherius was bishop of Rome from 175-189 AD. This book (which I purchased at the Vatican itself) states this about Eleutherius:
He dispensed with the obligations of Christians to follow dietary laws of Judaic origin (page 5).
The above book should have said the obligations of biblical origin as the dietary restrictions began with God and not Jews (the distinction between clean and unclean animals was known by at least Noah's time, since God so declared in Genesis 7:2-3). Perhaps it needs to be stated that no one called of God in the Old Testament is ever shown to have consumed unclean meat. Hence the Catholics (and the Protestants that follow this edict) are relying on a possible pronouncement of a bishop of Rome for justification of eating unclean meats more than they may realize.
Now, I should add that the Liber Pontificalis was composed in the fifth/sixth centuries and has a reputation, even amongst Roman Catholic scholars, for arbitrarily assigning events with certain "popes" (some of this is documented in the article What Does Rome Actually Teach About Early Church History?). It would seem, however, that this could not have been assigned any earlier than because of Irenaeus' writings. Hence, it is clear that well into the second century, the laws concerning clean and unclean meats were considered to have been in force for Christians in general. And that it is due to a later Catholic tradition that unclean animals became food for Roman supporters.
The Rome Emperor Constantine apparently liked unclean food so much that he persecuted those who would not eat it. Here is a report from a source with Middle East ties:
Constantine called a gathering of Christian monks with a view to the formulation of obligatory religious beliefs…However, some of them disagreed with this text…There was a scission and the symbol of faith which had been formulated was not regarded as valid.
Thereupon, three hundred and eighteen men gathered in Nicaea and formulated a symbol of faith, which was accepted and made obligatory by Constantine. People who dissented from it were killed and professions of faith differing from it suppressed.In this way people who professed the religion of Christ came to do all that is reprehensible; they worshipped the cross, observed the Roman religious rites and ate pork. Those who did not eat it were killed (Pines S. The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity according to a New Source. Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Volume II, No.13; 1966. Jerusalem, pp. 31-32)
Here is a report from a Roman Catholic scholar about matters in Jerusalem:
That there existed strife between the different branches of the faithful can easily be gathered from the expression of the anonymous pilgrim of Bordeaux in 333, who says that the three basilicas were erected by the gentile Christians “at the command of Constantine”, that is by force, and from the late account of Eutychius (PG 111,1012-1013) that, just at this time, the faithful while they were leaving the church on Easter day, were forced to eat pork under the pain of death. We know how the Judaeo-Christians refused this in order not to transgress the Mosaic law to which they held there were bound (Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, pp. 13-14).
And this was probably why the following is reported about the Greco-Roman Cyril of Jerusalem:
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, or as some believe, his successor John II…the saint…adds “…Keep away from all sabbathical observances, and do not call some foods clean and unclean because they are all indifferent”. (ibid, p. 89)
Without going into a long discourse, some Protestant theologians have pointed to the spurious addition to a verse (from either a text from Egypt or Alexander) they kept in the Revised Standard Version, the American Standard Version, and the New International Version of the Bible,
In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean" (Mark 7:19, NIV).
This addition is NOT in the Textus Receptus (from whence the KJV and NKJV are translated, nor is it in the Rheims' New Testament (the Roman Catholic standard English translation). Furthermore , Peter made it clear in Acts 10:14 that he still had not eaten anything unclean--hence he did not rely on this spurious verse. Also, verses in Revelation (16:3; 18:2) clearly show that unclean animals remained after Mark 7.
The next (and perhaps main) argument I have seen from Protestant advocates is that many state that in the vision Peter received in Acts 10, that this vision meant that Christians were to eat unclean animals. Of course, that is NOT how Peter understood the vision. Note that in and after the vision, Peter never eats any unclean thing. And unlike certain theologians who jump to inaccurate conclusions on this matter, Peter did not. Acts 10:17 says,
Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate.
After receiving instruction to see those men from the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:21), Peter realized the meaning of the vision, which was,
God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean (Acts 10:28).
Scripture does not authorize the eating of unclean animals.
The reality is that, even after leaving the Roman Church, Protestant leaders kept some of the unbiblical traditions that Gnostics and later, the Roman Church had. And for nearly all of them, this included the consumption of unclean meats.
Therefore, it is apparently from tradition, and not the Bible, that Catholics and Protestants truly came to their positions on this matter.
Recall that Jesus quoted Isaiah who was inspired to write:
And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men (Matthew 15:9).
Interestingly, even though they would often eat unclean meat, even as late as the early third century, those affiliated with the Roman Church would not eat blood (which is also prohibited in the Old and New Testaments).
Notice that Tertullian taught that professing Christians considered the consumption of blood unlawful when he wrote to those who accused Christians of eating human blood:
To clench the matter with a single example, you tempt Christians with sausages of blood, just because you are perfectly aware that the thing by which you thus try to get them to transgress they hold unlawful. And how unreasonable it is to believe that those, of whom you are convinced that they regard with horror the idea of tasting the blood of oxen, are eager after blood of men (Tertullian. Apology. Chapter 9. Translated by S. Thelwall. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885).
Notice what Acts states:
... we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath (Acts 15:20-21).
Notice that the apostles are teaching that avoiding blood is based upon the teachings of Moses:
10 ‘And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ 12 Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’ (Leviticus 17:10-12)
Yet, even though the consumption of blood is specifically prohibited in New Testament, many who profess Christ today do (or will if offerred) eat blood or blood sausage. There is also pig and cow blood used in certain other processed foods these days as a type of "meat glue" (see Pig and Beef Blood Used in Food Supply). Of course, there are various health benefits associated with eating less processed foods (see also UK Study Supports Daniel Diet).
Perhaps I should mention that some believe that the decision of Acts 15 allows for eating unclean meats, not keeping the Ten Commandments, and many other such positions. The reality is that Christians, including most apostates claiming Christianity, did not understand Acts 15 that as the Ten Commandments were understood to be in forece after Acts 15 (see The Ten Commandments and the Early Church) and there is no evidence that Christians in the first century intentionally ate unclean animals.
A passage of scripture, not otherwise quoted in this article, is from Isaiah 30:22 which teaches:
You will throw them away as an unclean thing;
You will say to them, "Get away!
Interestingly, commenting on the verses of Isaiah 30:18-26, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary states:
And what is the relevance of that?
The people shall dwell in Zion. His ultimate purpose for his people is that they may dwell in security and peace in his holy city. Yet he must prepare them and teach them (translate Teacher in v. 20, rather than teachers) through affliction and trial, giving them sure guidance for each step and deterring them from going astray...Evidently a description of the glories of the Millennium (since this kind of prosperity has no appropriateness for a heavenly existence). (from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press).
Well since the millennium has still not begun, this means that there are still unclean things that one should dispose of. Hence, it is not appropriate for Protestant, or other scholars, to imply that concepts of "unclean" where somehow done away. Thus, the relevance is that both the Old and New Testaments show that "unclean" is a concept that is relevant, even today, for true Christians.
There is a passage in 1 Timothy 4 that should be discussed briefly, which states:
You will note that this passage says that creatures to eat are sanctified by the word of God. Recall that the word of God does sanctify those creatures to eat that the Bible calls clean and does not sanctify those creatures to eat which is calls unclean.
Furthermore, it should be clear to any with eyes to see that this passage is directed towards those who follow various teachings of Roman Catholicism. It is the Roman Church that forbids its clergy to marry (please see article Was Celibacy Required for Early Bishops or Presbyters?).
And it is the Roman Church that forbid the eating of clean meats on Fridays for centuries. It is this type of human restriction that the Apostle Paul is discussing in 1 Timothy.
Most people who eat unclean meats tend to eat shellfish and pork.
In the area that I live in, there are signs near the beach that state that it is illegal to sell local shellfish for about six months per year. This is because it is considered to be unsafe to eat by medical authorities then.
Of course, since shellfish tend to be bottom-feeders that eat scum (I have watched many "fish" for crabs with the most rotten baits), no one really should consider these toxin collectors as healthy to eat.
Furthermore, because of these toxins and other factors (such as the exceptionally high iodine content in some shellfish, including shrimp), shellfish are one of the most severely allergic "foods" that humans tend to consume.
But what about pork? The following web-news item may be of interest:
Are There Deadly Superbugs in Your Pork?
Scientists have detected antibiotic-resistant bacteria in pork, pigs and some veterinarians. It is possible that these so-called superbugs could infect farmworkers or even people who eat pork.
Antibiotic-resistant bugs were found in more than 7 percent of over 100 swine veterinarians tested. The same bacterial strains were found in nearly 50 percent of 300 tested pigs.
Perhaps of greatest concern, the bacteria were also found in 10 percent of more than 200 samples of ground pork and pork chops collected from four Canadian provinces.
An estimated 18,650 deaths a year in the U.S. are estimated to be caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/07/12/are-there-deadly-superbugs-in-your-pork.aspx?source=nl
The same site also had the following from Dr. Mercola:
Scientific Backing for the Avoidance of Pork
Bacon, perhaps one of America’s favorite breakfast staples, is in fact one of the worst type of processed meats you could eat for your health. According to a 2006 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating bacon five or more times a week was linked to increasing your risk of bladder cancer by 59 percent. Aside from the processing of the meat, another likely cause for bacon’s negative influence on your health is the heterocyclic amines that form when meat is cooked at high temperatures.
If you cook meat that is loaded with pesticides and hormones at high temperatures, you’re simply asking for trouble. That’s why I limit my meat choices as much as possible to grass-fed and organic meats.
You also need to beware of eating undercooked pork, as it can cause trichinosis. Fortunately, trichinosis affects only 11 people per year in the U.S. and less than 2 percent of those infected actually die from the disease, which means there is one death every five years in the U.S. from this.
As far as MRSA is concerned, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have previously warned consumers about the risks inherent in the ever-popular holiday ham in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Turns out the high salt and sugar content of pre-cooked canned hams provides an ideal growth medium for the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Additionally, if you’re a diabetic or if you have a weakened immune system, you may also do well to steer clear of chitterlings, a dish consisting of boiled pig intestines that are served up as traditional holiday fare in the Southern U.S.
It’s possible for people with poorly controlled diabetes to become seriously ill with enteritis necroticans, a potentially life-threatening intestinal infection. The rare disease causes severe stomach pain, vomiting of blood and low blood pressure. The culprit is the chitterlings-contaminating bacterium known as Clostridium perfringens type C, which produces a toxin that is lethal to tissue in your digestive tract. Even cooking the chitterlings might not rid them of the bacteria.
But wait, there’s more!
The Unsavory Side of Pork
The pork and swine industry has been continually plagued, and continues to be so to this day, by a wide variety of hazardous and deadly infections and diseases, including:
PRRS — A horrendous disease, which I first reported on in 2001, but which had been a nightmare for many nations since the mid-1980s, is still alive and kicking today.
At one point referred to as “swine mystery disease,” “blue abortion,” and “swine infertility,” the disease was finally named “Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome” (PRRS), and may afflict about 75 percent of American pig herds.
The PRRS virus primarily attacks the pig’s immune system, leaving its body open to a host of infections, particularly in the lungs. Initial research revealed that the virus was transmitted via semen, saliva and blood, leaving pigs herded closely together and transported in close quarters by trucks more susceptible to infection.
However, according to new research presented at the 2007 International PRRS Symposium shows that the disease is now airborne, making eradication efforts very difficult. According to the PRRS Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) and the National Pork Board, it is still the most economically significant disease of swine in the U.S.
The Nipah Virus – Discovered in 1999, the Nipah virushas caused disease in both animals and humans, through contact with infected animals. In humans, the virus can lead to deadly encephalitis (an acute inflammation of your brain). I originally reported on this virus in 2000, but according to CDC data, the Nipah virus reemerged again in 2004.
Hepatitis E (HEV)– According to the Mayo Clinic and an article in the Journal of Clinical Biology, pork may be the reservoir responsible for sporadic, locally acquired cases of acute hepatitis reported in regions with relatively mild climates as HEV has been found to transmit between swine and humans.
Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV)– According to a study in the journal Lancet, this virus can spread to people receiving pig organ transplants, and according to test tube studies, PERV strains does have the ability to infect human cells. PERV genes are scattered throughout pigs’ genetic material, and researchers have found that pig heart, spleen and kidney cells release various strains of the virus.
Menangle Virus – In 1998, the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases reported that a new virus infecting pigs was able to jump to humans. The menangle virus was discovered in August 1997 when sows at an Australian piggery began giving birth to deformed and mummified piglets.
What About Pasture-Raised Pork?
In a slightly ironic twist, I can’t even safely recommend consuming pasture-raised pork, because while researching this article I stumbled across a study in the current issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases citing concerns about pastured pigs being vulnerable to Trichinella spiralis infection, due to their exposure to wild hosts that carry the disease.
Pasture-raised pig farming has expanded with increased demand from health conscious consumers, and currently there are 28 U.S. farms located within 50 kilometers of a previously infected site.
Pork parasites can cause brain problems:
California’s Unspoken Health Problem: Brain Parasites
…it is the major cause for epilepsy worldwide. The CDC estimates that there are 1,900 diagnosed cases every year, 386 annual cases in California alonewhich can cost upwards of $66,000. Often it is paid through Medicare – costing taxpayers thousands.Tapeworms enter the body, normally ingested through pork or beef. The larvae use hook-like teeth to tear tiny holes in the intestines and sometimes travel to the brain.
Brain Parasite ‘Neurocysticercosis’ Cases Increasing In California…
According to the CDC, neurocysticercosis is preventable, but happens with larval cysts of the pork tapeworm enter the brain.
It is the most severe form of cyticercosis.http://www.ksee24.com/news/local/Brain-Parasite-Neurocysticercosis-Cases-Increasing-In-California-169038376.htmlCalifornia Has A Problem With Brain-Infecting ParasitesSept 7, 2012 excerpt…
The diagnosis, officially called Neurocysticercosis, is common in the third world (about 50 million people are infected globally). But American doctors often don’t know the symptoms of the 1,900 cases that show up in American hospitals every year.
The worms are originally tiny: about the size of peas. They come from eating contaminated pork, and fight their way into the small intestines and cling to the flesh there while draining nutrients from their host. They can grow to be 20 feet long and can make tens of thousands of eggs a day, which ride through the bloodstream through the whole body.
Perhaps I should add that several years back, there was a small news item in The Townsend Letter for Doctors that claimed that 2% of the neurological appointments made in the State of California were related to pork consumption. I found that both shocking and astounding. It probably should be noted that because cattle are not always proper raised, parasites can come from them, but the neurological parasitic problems are much more closely associated with pork.
Back in 2006, problems started happening involving workers at a Minnesota pork-processing plant. Here is some of what the New York Times reported:
A Medical Mystery Unfolds in Minnesota
By DENISE GRADY
Published: February 5, 2008 AUSTIN, Minn...
And the disease that confronted doctors at the Austin Medical Center here last fall was strange indeed. Three patients had the same highly unusual set of symptoms: fatigue, pain, weakness, numbness and tingling in the legs and feet.
The patients had something else in common, too: all worked at Quality Pork Processors, a local meatpacking plant.
The disorder seemed to involve nerve damage, but doctors had no idea what was causing it.
At the plant, nurses in the medical department had also begun to notice the same ominous pattern. The three workers had complained to them of “heavy legs,” and the nurses had urged them to see doctors. The nurses knew of a fourth case, too, and they feared that more workers would get sick, that a serious disease might be spreading through the plant...
A man whom doctors call the “index case” — the first patient they knew about — got sick in December 2006 and was hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic for about two weeks. His job at Quality Pork was to extract the brains from swine heads.
“He was quite ill and severely affected neurologically, with significant weakness in his legs and loss of function in the lower part of his body,” said Dr. Daniel H. Lachance, a neurologist at Mayo.
Tests showed that the man’s spinal cord was markedly inflamed. The cause seemed to be an autoimmune reaction: his immune system was mistakenly attacking his own nerves as if they were a foreign body or a germ. Doctors could not figure out why it had happened, but the standard treatment for inflammation — a steroid drug — seemed to help. (The patient was not available for interviews.)
Neurological illnesses sometimes defy understanding, Dr. Lachance said, and this seemed to be one of them. At the time, it did not occur to anyone that the problem might be related to the patient’s occupation.
By spring, he went back to his job. But within weeks, he became ill again. Once more, he recovered after a few months and returned to work — only to get sick all over again.
By then, November 2007, other cases had begun to turn up. Ultimately, there were 12 — 6 men and 6 women, ranging in age from 21 to 51. Doctors and the plant owner, realizing they had an outbreak on their hands, had already called in the Minnesota Department of Health, which, in turn, sought help from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though the outbreak seemed small, the investigation took on urgency because the disease was serious, and health officials worried that it might indicate a new risk to other workers in meatpacking.
“It is important to characterize this because it appears to be a new syndrome, and we don’t truly know how many people may be affected throughout the U.S. or even the world,” said Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, a veterinarian from the disease centers...
A survey of the workers confirmed what the plant’s nurses had suspected: those who got sick were employed at or near the “head table,” where workers cut the meat off severed hog heads. (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/health/05pork.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 viewed 12/10/08).
Of course, since we in the genuine Church of God do not eat pork, we are less likely than pork eaters to be affected by diseases in it. However, once people get infections, they can often pass them on to others.
It also appears that pigs can be a factor in passing on another deadly disease:
Deadly Swine Flu Outbreak Linked to U.S.NBC Dallas-Fort Worth - April 24, 2009
A strain of pig flu found in eight people in California and Texas is linked to the deadly bird flu that has killed as many as 61 people and sickened more than one thousand in Mexico...
"We are very, very concerned," WHO spokesman Thomas Abraham. "We have what appears to be a novel virus and it has spread from human to human."
"It's all hands on deck at the moment," he said.
President Obama had been informed and is following the outbreak closely, an administrative official said Friday.
Pigs seem to be "flu factories":
Scientific American: U.S. Pig Farms May Be ‘Flu Factories’
December 23, 2010
by Eliza Barclay
Last year’s H1N1 pandemic was a wake-up call to many scientists to how unpredictable and dangerous viruses circulating in the animal world can be if they jump to humans. The outbreak of avian flu in 2006 was our first clue.
Since then, there’s been a lot of talk about monitoring the health of the animals most likely to pass on a flu virus with pandemic potential — pigs and birds.
But an article just published in Scientific American says our pig monitoring is pretty bad. So bad that American pigs farms are virtually “flu factories,” according to author Helen Branswell, a Nieman Fellow in global health reporting at Harvard University. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/12/23/132256243/scientific-american-u-s-pig-farms-may-be-flu-factories
Because people eat pigs, we get various strains of the flu that we would not have to deal with otherwise. Pigs are also suspected as being significant carriers of the form of the ebola virus that can kill humans (Pigs May Spread Deadly Ebola Virus).
Interestingly, some scientists reported in 2012 that they concluded that human beings were "genetically-programmed" to dislike the smell of male pork:
If you find the smell of pork revolting, it could be because that’s how you’re genetically programmed to perceive it, according to a new study. Scientists found that there’s a gene responsible for how a compound in pork smells to humans...Androstenone is also found in other male animals, but it’s found in particularly high amounts in swine, Matsunami said. (Carollo K. Pork and Genes: How Pork Smells Genetically Determined, Says Study. ABC News, May 2, 2012. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/smell-pork-genetic-component-study/story?id=16261564#.T6G9vFJz_uY)
And while many do like the smell and/or taste of pork, some of the reason for this is that male swine is normally castrated in Western countries, so this reduces the otherwise more objectionable smell. (Other reasons include invidual variations as well as the spices and/or smoking processes used on pork.)
Much pork is the USA is also contaminated with one or more forms of harmful bacteria:
Nov 28, 2012
Study Finds Most Pork Contaminated With Yersinia Bacteria…
Yersinia enterocolitica, a lesser-known food-borne pathogen, was present in 69 percent of the pork products tested, according to a study released today by Consumer Reports.
More than 100,000 Americans are affected by the bacteria a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For every case that is confirmed with a laboratory test, about 120 more cases escape diagnosis. The bacteria can hit hard. Symptoms can include fever, cramps and bloody diarrhea.
In the Consumer Reports study, ground pork turned out to be riskier than pork chops. In the samples taken, 69 percent tested positive for Yersenia and 11 percent for enterococcus, which can indicate fecal contamination. http://www.kolotv.com/news/nationalnews/headlines/Study-Finds-Most-Pork-Contaminated-With-Yersinia-Bacteria-181162001.html
Unclean meats are simply not safe or biblically appropriate to eat. More and more, scientists are finding more issues with some of them.
Delarations from religious leaders, theologians, and bishops did not change the flesh of unclean animals and make them healthy or otherwise fit for humans.
Some seem to believe that animals that live in the wild should be safe to eat. But what about unclean ones?
Here is a report from the New York Times:
Parasites: ‘Tropical’ Diseases Are Common in Arctic Dwellers, a Survey FindsNew York Times - Jan 25, 2010
The kind of worm and protozoan infections that are often called neglected “tropical” diseases are also common among aboriginal peoples living in the Arctic, according to a recent survey.
Outbreaks of trichinosis, a larval-worm disease commonly associated with eating undercooked pork and carnivorous wild game, also occur among people who eat infected polar bear and walrus meat, and the Arctic harbors a unique species of the worm that can survive subzero temperatures. Mild infestations cause nausea and stomach pain; severe ones can kill.
In Alaska, there are sporadic human cases of a fish tapeworm known as diphyllobothriasis. Echinococcosis, a tapeworm disease that fills human lungs or livers with cysts that can crush blood vessels or kill if they rupture, needs both canines and hoofed animals in its life cycle...
Toxoplasmosis, a particular threat to pregnant women, also occurs in the Arctic, though its origins are mysterious. With domestic cats uncommon, it may be linked to wild lynx...
The survey was published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases by Dr. Peter J. Hotez, who edits the online journal. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/26/health/26glob.html
Biblically unclean animals are NOT safe to eat. And while clean animals can also get diseases, they tend to be more resistant and less likely to pass them to humans.
In conclusion from the Bible and recorded church history we learn that:
1) Jesus never declared all animals to be clean nor did He consider unclean animals to be food.
2) Koinos does not mean unclean. The Bible teaches that our salvation and faith both are koinos.
3) Uncleanness is also a New Testament concept that Paul repeatedly warned about.
4) No one in the New Testament, nor called of God in the Old Testament, is ever shown to have eaten unclean animals.
5) We are to follow the example of Jesus, Daniel, Paul, and other true leaders.
6) No scriptures declare that unclean animals are food.
7) Unclean creatures were still considered to be unclean in the very last book of the Bible.
8) God promises to punish those who eat the flesh of pigs and other abominable animals.
9) Professing Christians in the second century still considered various animals as unclean.
10) The Liber Pontificalis claims that it was a late 2nd century Bishop of Rome who declared that Christians could eat unclean animals.
11) Most Protestants seem to be accepting a decision of a Roman Catholic leader when they eat unclean meat.
12) The determination that each individual makes should be based upon what the Bible really says, not traditions of men.
Knowing the difference between the clean and the unclean is a concept that the Bible clearly ties to being holy. Thus it is clear, that "unclean" is a concept that a New Testament church can properly teach about.
Do you believe that religious leaders, theologians, and bishops can make declarations that supercede scripture? Can their decisions change the flesh of unclean animals and make them healthy for humans? If so, why are those same animals dangerous even in the 21st century for humans to consume?
Peter and the apostles once declared to the religious leaders of their day, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
Will you follow the biblical teachings and examples?
In case you are uncertain which animals are clean and which are unclean, please see Appendix A below (which is in progress)
Back to Early Christianity Page
Back to COGwriter Home Page
Thiel B., Ph.D. The New Testament and Unclean Meats. www.cogwriter.com (c) 1999, 2001, 2005, 2006,2007, 2008, 2009. 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 0406
P.S. Many who argue against the Sabbath claim that it is not commanded in the New Testament as it is not in the so-called 'sin lists' of Paul (although it is enjoined in Hebrews 4:9), yet these same people believe in eating unclean meat even though uncleanness is in those same 'sin lists'.
The Bible makes several references to clean and unclean animals. This article will include several biblical passages as well as a several listings of animals (including fish) considered to be clean as well as those considered to be unclean.
The Bible Teaches
The Bible lists/describes the following as clean animals (note there are other places in the Bible that discuss them, but that these are among the primary verses):
2...'These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: 3 Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud--that you may eat...9'These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers--that you may eat...21 Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. 22 These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind (Leviticus 11:2-3,9,21-22 NKJV, throughout unless otherwise specified).
4 These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5 the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the mountain goat, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. 6 And you may eat every animal with cloven hooves, having the hoof split into two parts, and that chews the cud, among the animals...9 "These you may eat of all that are in the waters: you may eat all that have fins and scales...11 "All clean birds you may eat (Deuteronomy 14:4-6,9,11).
41 He said to them, "Have you any food here?" 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence (Luke 24:41-43).
29 Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29).
The Bible lists/describes the following as unclean animals:
4 Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 5 the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 6 the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; 7 and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. 8 Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you...10 But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you. 11 They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. 12 Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales--that shall be an abomination to you.13 'And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, 14 the kite, and the falcon after its kind; 15 every raven after its kind, 16 the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the seagull, and the hawk after its kind; 17 the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; 18 the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; 19 the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat. 20'All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you...24 'By these you shall become unclean; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until evening; 25 whoever carries part of the carcass of any of them shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening: 26 The carcass of any beast which divides the foot, but is not cloven-hoofed or does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Everyone who touches it shall be unclean. 27 And whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you. Whoever touches any such carcass shall be unclean until evening. 28 Whoever carries any such carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. It is unclean to you. 29'These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the mole, the mouse, and the large lizard after its kind; 30 the gecko, the monitor lizard, the sand reptile, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. 31 These are unclean to you among all that creep (Leviticus 11:4-8,10-19,24-30).
"You shall not eat any detestable thing...7 Nevertheless, of those that chew the cud or have cloven hooves, you shall not eat, such as these: the camel, the hare, and the rock hyrax; for they chew the cud but do not have cloven hooves; they are unclean for you. 8 Also the swine is unclean for you, because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud; you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses...10 And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you...12 But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, 13 the red kite, the falcon, and the kite after their kinds; 14 every raven after its kind; 15 the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the seagull, and the hawk after their kinds; 16 the little owl, the screech owl, the white owl, 17 the jackdaw, the carrion vulture, the fisher owl, 18 the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat. 19 Also every creeping thing that flies is unclean for you; they shall not be eaten (Deuteronomy 14:3,7-8.10,12-19).
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? (Matthew 7:9-10).
... unclean spirits like frogs (Revelation 16:13).
One of the differences about the clean and the unclean is that the clean do not include any humanly predatory animals, while all those animals (lions, tigers, vultures, sharks, etc.) are unclean.
It may also be of interest to note that Jesus is referred to as a Lamb 27 times in the last book of the Bible, while evil spirits are referred to as unclean creatures in the same book.
Note that following listing was prepared from several sources presumed to be accurate. It is possible that some items (especially some names of fish may refer to multiple types of creatures, but essentially the listing here is accurate for the usual definitions of the animals listed).
Red meat animals include: Addax (like a gazelle), American Buffalo (bison), Antelope, Caribou, Cow (beef, ox, pastrami, veal), Deer (venison), Elk, Gazelle, Giraffe, Goat, Hart, Ibex, Moose, Musk Ox, Reindeer, and Sheep (lamb, mutton).
Clean birds include: Bobwhite, Chicken (including capon), Chukar (a type of quail), Cornish hen, Dove, Duck, Essentially all songbirds, Goose, Grouse, Guinea (a type of fowl), Partridge, Peacock/hen, Pheasant, Pigeon, Prairie chicken, Ptarmigan, Quail , Robin, Sage hen, Sparrow, Swan, Turtle-dove (the bird, not a turtle), and Turkey.
Although the word "Swan" is listed in the King James Version translation of Leviticus 11:18 as unclean, that is a mistranslation. The NKJV translates that creature as "white owl" and not as a swan (this is consistent with the understanding of other translators as well.
Clean fish include Ahi (a tuna), Albacore, Alewives, Anchovy, Barracuda, Barramundi (a type of perch in some areas, a type of cod in others), Bass, Bladerunner, Blackfin, Bloater (a type of chub), Bluefish, Blueback, Bluebill (a type of sunfish, not the duck, which is also clean), Bluefin (a type of tuna), Bluegill, Bonitos, Bowfin, Bream, Buffalofish, Butterfish, Carp, Chub, Chum (the salmon, not the bait sometimes thrown overboard), Cobia (a type of mackerel), Cod, Coho, Crappie, Crevalle, Dab (note this is a type of flounder not to be confused with Sand dabs), Dolphinfish (a type of whitefish, not the mammal dolphin), Dorado, Drum, Ebu, Flounder, Gag (this is a type of grouper), Grunt, Gulf Pike, Haddock, Hake, Halibut, Hardhead, Hardtail, Herring, Jobfish, Kingfish, Lehi, Longjaw (a type of chub), Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Menhaden, Minnow, Monchong, Mullet, Muskellunge, Onaga, Opakapaka, Orange Roughy, Perch, Pickerel, Pig Fish, Pike, Pilchard, Pollock, Pomfret, Pompano, Porgy, Redfin, Red Horse (a type of sucker fish), Robalo (a gulf pike), Redfish, Rockfish (like sunfish, etc. there are many varieties of these), Runner, Sardine, Scup, Sea Bass, Sergeant (a type of pike), Shad, Sheepshead, Shipjack (a tuna), Silver Hake, Silversides, Smelt, Snapper, Snook, Sole, Steelhead (a type of trout), Sucker, Sunfish, Tarpon, Tombo (a tuna), Trout, Turbot (except European turbot), Uku, Weakfish, Whitefish (see note below), Whiting (a type of hake), Yellow Tail (a tuna).
Note: all subspecies are not listed above. Also note that most fish called "white fish" are normally clean, however sometimes shark is called "white fish." When unsure, simply ask" What kind of white fish?" or "Is it shark?"
Clean insects appear to include types of locusts such as crickets, katydids, and grasshoppers. Some Jews who keep kosher will not eat any insects as they believe that the clean ones are not sufficiently clear enough in scripture to identify them conclusively.
As the above listing shows, there are plenty of clean creatures that God gave to be food for humans.
Unclean mammals include: Alpaca, Armadillo, Badger, Bear, Beaver, Boar, Camel, Canines, Cats, Cheetah, Chimpanzee, Coyote, Dog, Donkey, Elephant, Equines, Felines, Fox, Gorilla, Groundhog, Hare, Hippopotamus, Hog, Horse, Hyena, Jackal , Kangaroo, Leopard, Llama, Lion, Mammath, Mole, Monkey, Mouse, Mule, Muskrat, Onager, Opossum, Otter, Panther, Peccary, Pig (bacon, ham, and sausage are normally from pigs--though other sources do exist, capicollo, lard, pepperoni, pork, prosciutto), Pony, Porcupine, Prairie Dog, Rabbit, Raccoon, Rat , Rhinoceros, Seal, Skunk, Squirrel , Tasmanian Devil, Tiger, Vicuña, Wallaby, Walrus, Weasel, Wolverine, Wolf, Wombat, and Zebra (quagga).
Unclean insects/arachnids/slugs are pretty much anything other than Locusts, Katydids, and Grasshoppers. Some Beetles may be clean, but this is controversial. But certainly common items such as Ants, Butterflies, Fleas, Flies, Moths, Slug, Snail (escargot), Spiders, and Worms are unclean.
Unclean birds include: Albatross, Bat, Bittern, Buzzard, Eagle, Condor, Coot (mud hen), Cormorant, Crane, Crow, Cuckoo, Flamingo, Grebe, Grosbeak, Gulls, Hawk, Heron, Kite, Lapwing, Loon, Magpie, Osprey, Ostrich, Owl, Parrot, Pelican, Penguin, Plover, Rail, Raven, Roadrunner, Sandpiper, Seagull, Stork, Swallow, Swift, Vulture, Water Hen, and Woodpecker.
Unclean "creeping things" are all essentially all amphibians and reptiles. Some specific ones would be Alligator, Blindworm, Caiman, Chameleon, Crocodile, Dinosaurs, Frog, Gecko, Gila Monster, Lizard, Newt, Salamander, Snake, Toad, and Turtle.
Unclean fish/sea creatures include: Abalone, Basa (also known as “panga” or “river cobbler”, a catfish-like fish), Bullhead (a catfish-like fish), Catfish, Clam, Crab, Crayfish (and other crawdads), Cuttlefish, Dolphin, Eel , European turbot, Jellyfish, Limpet, Lobster, Marlin, Mud Puppy, Mussel, Octopus, Oyster, Paddlefish, Porpoise, Prawn , Sea mammals (all types), Scallop, Shark, Shellfish (all types), Shrimp, Squid (calamari), Starfish, Stickleback, Sturgeon (source of most caviar), Swordfish, and Whale.
Also note that most gelatin in the West at least is unclean. This means most marshmallows, for example, are unclean as they are normally made from pork gelatin.
Back to home page
Back to History of Early Christianity page