The Teaching of Rabbi Dr. Gabriel Cousens
The following is adapted from Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Conscious Eating (2000), Chapter 18, Sub-Chapter: ‘Jesus and Vegetarianism.’
Whether or not Jesus was a vegetarian is a delicate subject with no definite answer because of variations in different historical accounts. The Dead Sea Scrolls materials unearthed in 1947 indirectly suggest that Jesus was a lifelong vegetarian. This is because they indicate that the Essenes were vegetarian, and historically there is evidence that Jesis was raised in an Essene community; therefore it is highly likely that he and his family were vegetarian. The Essene Gospel of Peace, Book One, taken from the original Aramaic third-century manuscript in 1927 in the secret Vatican archives by Dr. Edmond Bordeaux-Skekely directly and strongly suggests that Jesus was a lifelong vegetarian. It reveals his direct teachings against the eating of flesh. Nevertheless, as these documents come to the surface, there is still lack of definite proof, as well as confusion about mistranslations and conscious and unconscious changes made in the scriptures as we see them today. This is especially true with the claims of various changes and deletions in the Gospiels and Epistles that in all probability largely occurred at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. According to The Prophet of the Death Sea Scrolls by Upton Clary Ewing, a theologian praised by world-famous Albert Schweitzer, M.D., as the ‘renaissance of Leonardo da Vinci:’
There is hardly a single scholar among Bible exegetists who will not agree that there are many inconsistencies and contradictions to be found in the Gospels and the Epistles.
To understand the relationship of Jesus to vegetarianism, we must probe into a realm in which much of the historical documentation has been lost, and that which is left is partially confused by the subtleties in the translation from Greek to English. The accuracy of the translations has also been affected by the limited understanding and philosophy of those who were doing the translating. For example, the word ‘meat,’ which appears nineteen times in teh New Testament, seems to imply that Jesus sanctioned meat-eating. The most accurate understanding, however, of the world ‘meat’ in the translation from Greek to English does not imply flesh food at all. The Greek word translated as ‘meat’ is more precisely translated as ‘food’ our ‘nourishment,’ and not animal flesh as we currently think when we hear the term ‘meat.’ For example, Jesus did not actually say, ‘Have ye any meat?’ as in John 21:5 but ‘Have ye anything to eat?’ And when the Gospels say that the disciples went away to buy meat (John 8), it merely means to buy food.
Similar mistranslations have occurred with the use of the word ‘fish.’ The misunderstanding of this word results in a portrayal of Jesus as eating fish and encouraging the eating or killing of fish by others. In the early church, the word ‘fish’ was a secret term. The Greek word for fish is I-CH-TH-U-S. It is made up of the first letters of the words ‘Jesus Christos Theou Uios Soter.’ This translates as Jesus Christ Son of God Savior. The fish is also found as a Christian symbol in the catacombs. It is symbolic of the Piscean Age, which was emerging at that time. It is entirely conceivable that the word ‘fish,’ as used in the New Testament, was used primarily in this deeper mystical way. Since Jesus taught in parables and metaphors, I believe its use in the New Testament was to communicate this deeper meaning of ‘fish’ rather than the literal idea of a dead fish that was physically eaten. In this context, the feeding of the fish to the people is a metaphor for the feeding of the higher teachings of the Master to the masses. In a second-century book by Irenaeus (A.D. 120–202), it is twice stated that Jesus fed the multitude of five thousand with bread alone. Others have pointed out that there is an aquatic plant called the fish plant that was used as a food in that era as well as during Babylonian times. These fish plants were dried in the sun, beaten into mortar, and baked into bread-like rolls and sold in the open market. Perhaps in the translation, the ‘plant’ portion of the word designated as the fish plant was omitted. It was only in the fourth century that fish was added to the bread offering in the scriptures. This suggests that the second-century version of The Gospel of the Hebrews might be more authentic. In this translation, it says in Lection XXIX, verses 7 and 8:
And when He had taken the six loaves and the seven clusters of grapes, He looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and the grapes also, and gave them to His disciples to set before them, and they divided them among all.
And they did all eat and were filled. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that were left. And they that did eat of the loaves and of the fruits were about five thousand men, women, and children, and He taught them many things.
In any case, the souls of the five thousand, we can assume, were at least fed with the mystical meaning of fish.