[Editor’s Note:  This Q & A is a follow-up to an earlier question regarding Genesis 1:30 in which the questioner proposes that before the “Fall” of Adam and Eve, both humans and animals were vegetarian.]


Isn’t Genesis 9:3 problematic?  God says that “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.  He compares the former giving of green plants with the present giving of everything. How could they have been able to eat animals before if he is only “now” giving everything, just as he gave the green plants in past times. I can’t see how this verse is to made sense of if humanity had always been freely eating animals. Genesis 1:29-30 would be strange on its own if it’s not prescribing vegetarianism but I can’t see how 9:3 can be understood as something other than a expanding of what man’s to eat.


The reading in the ISV “now I give you everything” is a minority reading. Most translations do not have the word “now.”    Here is a link, giving the translation of this passage in most of the important English translations.  https://biblehub.com/genesis/9-3.htm   I am not saying that this rendering of the text you have above from the ISV is excluded, and I do not believe that your understanding of the text is absolutely wrong or mistaken, but, given the entirety of the Bible, and given the evidence from anatomy and other sciences, I conclude that this is probably not the best interpretation of the relevant passages.  Please look at the translations of the passage to make a decision for yourself.
Also, here is a link for the interlinear Hebrew for  comparison. https://biblehub.com/interlinear/genesis/9-3.htm   You will see in this passage that there is not a word which is translated as “now” in the Hebrew, and it is not even clear that Gen 9:3 is talking about meat.  It says something like “herbs, just as the green shall be food for you.”   I wish all these questions were cut-and-dried and completely clear, but that is the way it is.  I do not believe that there was ever a time in the past many millions of years that carnivores such as lions, eagles, dinosaurs, tuna and so forth did not eat meat, and I know of no theological imperative for why they should not have before the “Fall.” I also believe that Genesis 9:3 is not a good proof-text for pre-Fall vegetarianism.
John Oakes


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