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Religion as Animal and Alive
Article

“Every Living Beast Being a Word, Every Kind Being a Sentence”: Animals and Religion in Reformation Europe

Department of History, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AH, UK
Religions 2019, 10(7), 421; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070421
Received: 1 May 2019 / Revised: 21 June 2019 / Accepted: 25 June 2019 / Published: 9 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animals and World Religions)
The ability of animals to convey meaning, either sacred or profane, features prominently in the dialectic of natural knowledge and sacred histories. Animals, particularly those that exhibited irregularities of nature, symbolised and revealed God’s wrath and favour, fulfilling a polemical and pastoral purpose in the communication of God’s anger and assiduous care for humanity. The language of readable nature ran through the ancient natural histories of Pliny and Aristotle, the words and images of the medieval bestiaries, and the natural histories and popular discourses of Reformation Europe. In the history of the natural world, ‘God’s great book in folio’, ideas about connections between the written word and human observation, miracles, wonders and providences, were interleaved with theological and biological taxonomies. In so doing, discussions of irregularities and portents in nature expose the conceptualisation of human relationships with the world, with the past, with the present, and with the divine. This article explores the connections between real and symbolic animals, religious, and the plasticity of God’s creation in the natural histories and polemical literature of the Reformation. It explores the multivalent positioning of particular sea creatures as providential signs of God’s continued presence in the world, natural phenomena, and man-made objects, and the ongoing syncretism between natural history, religion, ancient texts and human observation in the dialectic of this period. View Full-Text
Keywords: animals; sea creatures; natural history; providence; reformation animals; sea creatures; natural history; providence; reformation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Parish, H. “Every Living Beast Being a Word, Every Kind Being a Sentence”: Animals and Religion in Reformation Europe. Religions 2019, 10, 421. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070421

AMA Style

Parish H. “Every Living Beast Being a Word, Every Kind Being a Sentence”: Animals and Religion in Reformation Europe. Religions. 2019; 10(7):421. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070421

Chicago/Turabian Style

Parish, Helen. 2019. "“Every Living Beast Being a Word, Every Kind Being a Sentence”: Animals and Religion in Reformation Europe" Religions 10, no. 7: 421. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10070421

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