The original vegetable garden

The question of original sin interests me as much as that of diet. And if it was the same?

The story of Adam and Eve is based on a few verses from the Bible. However, it has given rise to multiple and contrasting comments: depending on whether we take (like Saint Augustine) this story for an authentic story of origins, or (with Origne and Philo of Alexandria) for an allegory whose moral meaning concerns us in the present, the interpretation differs. greatly; even more so, depending on whether one places emphasis on this or that verse. Where was, where exactly is sin? If we consider the verse on nudity and shame, we draw (again with Saint Augustine) the idea that sin is linked to sexuality. If we emphasize the tempting role of women, we open the door to misogynistic readings; on the Serpent, it is the devil who takes the lead (with embarrassing questions: how could he contravene the will of the Almighty? or how could this reptile speak?…); if we turn to the body of the crime, the tree itself, this is then the libido scindi that we incriminate less by observing that it is not just any knowledge, but precisely that good and bad. But it is quite the opposite that theologians of all stripes have retained for the most part, and Morality reiterates Adam's sin every day in judging things and beings… We sometimes wonder if the emphasis placed on the circumstances of the story are not intended to distract from this central and problematic point: because if Adam and Eve were ignorant of good and evil, how could God at the same time forbid them from anything, which amounts to teaching that there is good and evil And, on the level of allegory, the implicit invitation to live beyond good and evil takes on curiously Nietzschen accents

Wenzel Peter, Adam and Eve in Earthly Paradise, Vatican Pinacoteca

We can then wonder about life in the Garden of Eden: how was it good and happy?? And can we envisage a return, or is paradise irretrievably lost, at least in this life, until the return of new Adam what would Christ be? Can we at least take as a model of life the little that is told to us about it?? But what must we defend ourselves from in order to return as much as possible to primitive purity?? lasciviousness? Of the pride that pushes us to measure ourselves against God? of GOOD and wrong?

The Garden of Den (Rubens and Brueghel the Elder)

Guillaume Alonge and Olivier Christin are historians, the first of theological controversies, the second of the wars of religion. They were interested in the interpretation of another verse (1. 29), the one which concerns the strictly vegetarian, and even vegan, diet assigned to the residents of paradise: I have given you all the herbs that bear their seed on the earth, and all the trees that contain their seed within themselves, that they may serve as food for you.. Plants seeds and fruits, such would have been the primitive diet.

The work aims to correct a prejudice widely spread by vegan activism, according to which modern vegetarianism results of an abandonment of illusions and religious prescriptions (p. 180). This prejudice is not general, since we still find today, particularly among American creationists, a number of followers of the Gense diet 1.29 supposed to prevent or cure all diseases much more effectively than medicine. However, the saying of Adam and Eve constitutes according to the authors, not only a major milestone in the history of vegetarianism (p. 11), but also a model for understanding the scientific revolution of the classical age.

It all began with the quarrel which ignited at the time of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, and which continued over two centuries, until the moment when the theological discourse on prohibitions, forced to rely on dietetics and comparative anatomy, finally gave way. not science. The controversy gradually changes its tone: the virulence of controversies and anathemas gives way to the gentleness and urbanity of exchanges between scholars under the arbitration of the learned or curious public. Now this happy epistemic shift, the authors suggest, finds its origin in the polysmy of the myth rather than in a radical break with the naive faith of another time, and for a long time the two discourses intertwine and feed off each other. It is this period of cohabitation between the theological and the scholar which is the subject of this study, as rudimentary as it is invigorating.

The sausages of discord

Ulrich Zwingli

When in 1522 Ulrich Zwingli broke with the rites and sacraments, judgments without biblical basis since Saint Paul (and Saint Peter) abolished the ritual obligations of Judaism, and he launched against the Lenten fast the famous sausage affair by offering two meager sausages to its co-religionists, the Roman counter-reformation returns to the sacred text to seek a justification for fasting, and for this goes back to the Deluge, and even before: in the diet imposed by God on the first couple a diet absolutely without sausage . An entire theological literature affirms that the meat diet would only begin after sin, God having given a new diet to Noah and his descendants. This new cuisine would testify to the physical and moral decline of man, who while being incapable of returning by his own strength to the first state of innocence, must strive to tend there at least by periods. If, moreover, Adam lived 930 years, as the sacred text teaches us, was it not thanks to his non-meat diet?? And here the Roman Church is forced to justify its traditions to seek support, not only from exegesis, but also from scientists, anatomists, doctors who in turn, whether by conviction or by prudence, base their research on the biblical reference.

Nicolas Andry de Boisregard

On the side of exegesis, the interpretation is open to discussion, because there are also verses in Genesis which concern animals, that Adam is invited dominate. But what does this verb mean?? Is it explicitly authorized to kill them to eat them, or on the contrary must it protect them, even against their own carnivorous instincts?? But why is Abel a shepherd, if he does not feed on animals, would it be for their milk?? At least he sacrifices God. But is this sacrifice bloody? If God authorized the meat diet after the Flood, would it be with a view to shortening human life?? Finally, what about carnivorous animals, whose teeth and digestive system clearly enable them to feed on living things?? Were they already carnivorous in the Garden of Eden, or did they only become so after the episode of the Ark?? All these debates, whether they reflect a sincere questioning or a hidden irony, ultimately have the effect of introducing doubt and surreptitiously undermining the argument of authority, as when we ask Nicolas Andry de Boisregard in 1713 whether one can eat during Lent, in addition to the fish, seabirds which take from the nature of the fishor why, with the doctor and exegee Jean Astruc in 1714, if there were no fish in the Garden of Eden, we would be allowed to eat them during the Lent period?…

Of man from nature the nature of man

Frontispiece of the Trait de la police by N. de la Mare, 1713

With abundant erudition, the authors identify the stages of a fierce and interdisciplinary debate which mobilizes, in addition to clerics and theologians, doctors and philosophers from all countries. Hundreds of pamphlets have been unearthed, often written in response to each other. Abandoning the concern for the soul, the controversy soon focused on the human body, the stomach and digestion.; the authors even mention a Police line which, in the chapter of butchers and their opening days or hours, begins by referring to the story of Adam and his non-meat diet: the control of the walls, the protection of public health, the regulation of competition and the maintenance of order can therefore lead those in charge to take a fairly close interest in the debates on book 1 of Genesis (p. 112).

If the Bible remains the reference, experimental sciences are called to the rescue of exegesis, embarrassed by the obscurities of the text. So that science in turn becomes sacred; Philippe Hecquet, doctor of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris, physician to the Prince of Cond and close to Port-Royal, published a Theological medicineA Trait of Carmelite dispensations and, in the same year 1709, a work devoted to Digestion of food: all aim to found Carmel on the nature of man relying on history, analysis and observation. This is, according to culinary historian Ken Albala, of the first scientific argument in favor of vegetarianism. The question of good and evil becomes that of good and bad.

In addition to remarks on the diet of the Brahmins, the heart of the argument concerns the stomach, defined as a muscle crushing or crushing food. The rebuttals are raining down; but from now on, they settle on the terrain of natural science, the formalities of which differ significantly from those of the theological debate. The authors here join the analyzes of Antoine Lilti on the constitution of a scholarly public in XVIIIe century, which is no longer the ordered political body of jurists and theologians, but the whole of spectators and readers (cited p. 142). These controversies which bring together medical priests are not intended to assert the real science of nature against the false science of the supernatural, but rather to anchor in science the question, consistent both with the needs of society and the interests of religion, of the right diet (p. 144). Two universes then coexist:

executors and preachers, whose position is guaranteed by the Church and who fulfill a sort of professional duty by attacking Protestants, libertines and worldly people guilty of loosening the walls, meet doctors, naturalists and philosophers for whom arbitration of peers and the public is part of the conditions for acquiring scientific prestige. Everything happens as if two dissimilar disputes were linked together, offering their protagonists a decisive opportunity to clarify their ways of conceiving the truth and establishing the facts, but also to draw the boundaries of their respective skills. (pp. 160-161)

In this two-sided dispute, relayed by the newspapers, the objective is no longer to disqualify the adversary, to doom him to eternal perdition, but to establish the conditions for a legitimate debate where courtesy and civility reign, which Jean Astruc nicely formulates, in his quarrel with Hecquet: if we cannot persuade him of the truth of the opinion we have espoused, we wish at least to make him approve of the manner in which we hold it (cited p. 165). Andry de Boisregard, already mentioned above, was a great professor and inventor of parasitology, but also the author of Reflections on the present use of the French language or New and critical remarks concerning the politeness of language.

The work therefore intends to demonstrate that in the development of this ethics of controversy, religion played a more important role than one imagines, far from the Voltairian image of an open conflict between reason and superstition. Without doubting the intentions of the cited authors, we sometimes wonder, and the authors recognize it, by evoking the possibility of a calculation if there does not enter, into this increasingly formal deference towards sacred history, an element of prudence, even sarcasm (humor moreover is not one of the least charms of the book, particularly in its chapter titles). The paradox is that it is because of having taken the biblical story literally that the dispute slid towards dietary and ultimately scientific concerns. In fact it is the same here as in other areas, as Nietzsche again remarks: making truth a sacred value, Christianity ended up turning against itself