The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Biblical Beasts - Introduction

Wednesday, July 06, 2011
During the 'long vacation' Godzdogz will be offering a series of reflections on animals mentioned in the Bible. Sometimes they appear just as themselves, and why not? 'God saw all he had made and behold it was very good' (Genesis 1:31). All God  made includes the swarms of living creatures that live in the waters, the birds that fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens, and the cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth (Genesis 1:20, 24).

Sometimes the animals appear as the instruments of God's dealings with His people: one thinks immediately of Balaam's ass and Jonah's great fish (Numbers 22; Jonah 1:17-2:10). Sometimes their involvement in the relationship of God and the people is not so straightforward: certain animals come to represent forms of idolatry and immorality.

A common way of using animals in later Christian thought was to see them as representing various virtues and vices, the clean animals of Leviticus 11 and Numbers 14:1-21 representing virtues and the unclean ones representing vices. This is how Thomas Aquinas speaks about them in what seems to be the only place in his writings where he gives a kind of bestiary - Summa theologiae I.II 102, 6 ad 1.

Members of the Godzdogz team will no doubt take different approaches in their reflections on Biblical Beasts. We will also bring you full and live coverage of the English Dominican pilgrimage to Madrid for World Youth Day. That will be between August 12th and August 22nd. There are some vocation stories to tell, by students who joined the Blackfriars community in recent years, as well as a friar's passion or two and a shorter series, towards the end of the summer, on the fruits of our study.

So 'stay tuned' to Godzdogz and check in with us regularly. We wish you a happy summer and ask you to pray that will bless our pastoral placements, our courses and conferences, our holidays, and of course our pilgrimage to Madrid.


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