“Quadrupedal Christ”

In “Quadrupedal Christ,” Moore provides several examples that support his argument that Revelation both affirms and disturbs the Cartesian model. First there is the fusion of the divine, the human, and the animal (lamb) — all three of these Christological figures represent Jesus (207). Thus, Christ is both theriomorphic and anthropomorphic (211). This disturbs the Cartesian model (human/animal divide). Further, Moore notes that Christ drifts in and out of humanity by the donning and un-donning of clothing (since humans are the only animals who wear clothing); Moore argues that in this way Jesus can be “made and unmade” into animal (209). This example actually affirms the Cartesian Model.

 In his more complex example, Moore notes that Revelation actually inverts the Aristotelian-species hierarchy that elevated the human over the animal. He gives the example of those worshipping the Lamb in the throne room. Those worshipping (the angelic beings and elders) are subdued, subservient and slavish— much how we imagine cattle or other livestock being led to the slaughter— yet the Lamb is the one who is being worshipped (“King of Kings and “Lord of Lords”)(210, 212). This represents an inverse in Aristotelian logic as “the animal is domesticated to serve human beings now rules over them” (212). However, Moore says that in order for this inverse to happen, the animal had to be subjected to the slaughter of humans.  This means that the lamb had to suffer and die. The image of Jesus dying an inhumane death— like that of an animal—serves to further affirm the Cartesian Model: animals are killed; but humans are murdered and die. The difference? An act is immoral if taking a life involves a “human” animal.  But Moore then posits a question concerning the ethics involved in the slaughter of animals. Is it only murder when it is a human? What then are we to make of Revelation’s depiction of Christ in his three forms, not least of which is an animal? And if animals lack the requisite features of human (spirit), and man who, quoting Heidegger “has an experiential relation to death” can they die (217)? If so, this would confirm the Cartesian model, but as we read further, we find that this example is far from complete. In fact, Heidegger, says, no— animals “perish but do not die” (217).

Further, bringing in Derrida, we are given his take, “the animal is a living creature that cannot die.” For Moore, This existential axiom, coupled with the example of the Lamb in Revelation, provides a complex and paradoxal example which disturbs the Cartesian model. Further, Moore brings in Levinas to give an account of the ethical treatment of animals. We find then that if an animal has a face, (specific requisite to ethical treatment) to kill it is to commit murder.  However, as Moore points out, without a face, using Heidegger’s axiom, the lamb even when killed cannot die, and lives on “forever as the sacrificial animal” (219). This example complicates but disturbs the Cartesian model. However, Moore complicates it further when he says Revelation is highly more complex than this: the slaughter of a single lamb is indeed a crime; an injustice that deserves mention, reverence and respect; it is an effective and effectual sacrifice. To this end, Moore says, “Revelation [   ] relies on the sacrificial logic it deconstructs” (220). Moore points out that in order for this sacrifice to be redemptive though, “the slaughter of the sacrificial victim must itself be a sin, a crime” (221). This means that the victim must have a face— this is the ethical and lawful requisite that constitutes murder.  These examples complicate but also, paradoxically, affirm and disturb the Cartesian model.


Using Moore’s analysis on the ethical treatment of animals we find that Revelation’s view on this subject doesn’t necessarily present an explicit critique on animal sacrifice (that it is grossly unethical), but rather gives an implicit critique— that the lamb’s death in a compelling but subtle way, constitutes unlawful killing. I am not sure how people in the 1st century would have interpreted this, or how people today would. People, typically (though not always) read religious texts with an agenda, sometimes this is explicit (specifically reading texts for thoughts, ideas, & examples which validate and reinforce their own) more often than not it is implicit. I imagine those people (both then and now) who subsist off eating meat would read Revelation in such a way as to validate their own lifestyle, especially if not eating meat isn’t an option. To kill an animal for the sake of killing however, would be I think, hard to validate regardless. Also, this is not to put factory farms and the mass slaughtering of animals on the same scale as ethically-treated organic, grass-fed livestock of small, local farms.  These are separate things, to be sure and need to be evaluated as such.


The bold type throughout the text, I think, serves to support and give depth to Moore’s argument. Using the modern arguments and examples of animal treatment, he is able to effectively weave and link the thread of the ethical treatment of animals in today’s society with that in the first century and that presented in Revelation, so that we are able to see the congruence and incongruences, and peak hills and valleys in human consciousness through the last 2000 years regarding this issue.

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