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marnixR
Post  Post subject: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:25 am
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I'd like to know what possibly be at the root of the prohibition of eating pork for Jews and muslims

just checking on the internet it would appear that the custom only took hold about 1000 BC, and I wonder whether this could be related with either a climatic change (making the keeping of pigs less suitable in a drier climate) or whether it shows that a previously nomadic people (who are more likely to keep giants or sheep rather than pigs) displaced pig-owning urbanites and the enmity between the populations was transferred to the latter's ownership of pigs

the same could have applied to nomadic Arabian tribes who somehow may have transferred an existing condition of not keeping pigs as something that became part of their newly acquired belief of Islam

any ideas ?

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DrKrettin
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 11:35 am
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There are those who think the origin is that it is a prohibition on eating animals which other religions hold sacred, or something like that. One possible explanation (for which I can offer no evidence) is the recognition that these animals can pass parasitic worms on to humans, and there was some connection between eating certain meats and human parasites, which were a major problem in the ancient world.


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 1:02 pm
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that was something (i.e. the correlation of consumption of pork and parasitical diseases) I have considered as a possible reason for prohibition - however, I've never seen this brought forward by any archaeologist, that's why I think there may be some objection from the historical or archeological record (plus I have this nagging feeling that it may already have been discussed in an older thread, but I haven't been able to find out where)

maybe if SkinWalker passes by, he may throw some light on the issue

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Chrispen Evan
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 12:32 am
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http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-new ... 180954614/

...Pigs need a fair amount of water to survive, which makes them poor travel buddies when a family needs to move—and this could be one factor informing their disappearance from the dinner table. But Redding doesn’t think that’s the primary reason. The blame for the change, his research suggests, can be placed on chickens, which took over pork’s role as a food source.

There’s good reason an ancient Middle Easterner might pick chickens over pigs. New Historian’s Adam Steedham Thake explains:

Quote:
Chickens have several advantages over pigs. First, they are a more efficient source of protein than pigs; chickens require 3,500 litres of water to produce one kilo of meat, pigs require 6,000. Secondly, chickens produce eggs, an important secondary product which pigs do not offer. Third, chickens are much smaller and can thus be consumed within 24 hours; this eliminates the problem of preserving large quantities of meat in a hot climate. Finally, chickens could be used by nomads. While neither chickens nor pigs can be herded in the same way as cattle, chickens are small enough to be transported.


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Lynx_Fox
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 8:53 am

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I think it's very hard to figure out religious rules. Regardless of how much we'd like to think there might be a logical reason, such as transition to chickens to save water, it seems just as likely it was almost arbitrary--perhaps as simple as one powerful person who got sick once, or attacked by a pig, or just had a dream about it so started the rule without much thought, testing or deep reasoning at all. Certainly, they didn't drop other inefficient animals from the diet, such as cattle. And many other groups living the same places didn't adopt this odd prohibition. We see other examples of seemingly senseless rules--such as Norse colonies that didn't' eat fish even when it seems completely logical in the face of crop failures and death of other sources of protein. etc.


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 2:05 pm
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that's why I thought there might have been a climate shift to drier conditions around 1000 BC, so that prior to that keeping pigs might have been ok, but maybe no longer under drier conditions

it just strikes me as odd that both Jews and muslims have the same prohibition + I wondered whether it might stem from a nomadic existence where pigs were not kept versus town-dwelling people who could continue keeping pigs within the town walls

the refusal to eat pork might then stem from the inimical feelings between nomad and town dweller : anything the latter did was declared wrong because they're our enemy

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PhDemon
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:02 pm

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Both Islam and Christianity draw heavily on Judaism (they are both Abrahamic religions and have a common heritage of the old testament stories). It is unlikely that Muslims developed the prohibition independently but inherited it from Judaism and kept it whereas Christianity ditched the dietary laws.

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:19 pm
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As Lynx rightly says, knowing is harder than speculating here, but I always assumed it was a way to minimize health risks like trichinosis.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:43 pm
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that explanation had occurred to me too, except that somehow it sounds too reasonable as an explanation
because you then displace the question to : why did muslims inherit the Jewish habit, but the christians ditched it ? surely trichinosis did not disappear depending on your religion ?

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:59 pm
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Well, could be like the catholic prohibition around eating meat on Friday. It was due to local slaughter practices and meat being butchered on Saturday's and Sunday's so the Friday meat was old and likely bad. Not sure. Good set of questions here.

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PhDemon
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:00 pm

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The Christians ditched it at the same time they ditched circumcision and other old testament practices to help them get gentile converts. St Paul discovered it was easier to convince people your god is the right one if they didn't have to give up their favourite foods or have their knob chopped ;). I agree it doesn't help answer the question of how it started but it does explain why Muslims and Jews have the same ban on piggy products...

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Last edited by PhDemon on Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:09 pm
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iNow wrote:
Well, could be like the catholic prohibition around eating meat on Friday. It was due to local slaughter practices and meat being butchered on Saturday's and Sunday's so the Friday meat was old and likely bad.


that's an interesting one, and something I didn't know - is it known for sure that animals were only slaughtered on Saturdays and Sundays ?
or was it something to do with abbeys often having fish ponds, and being able to get revenue by selling some of their fish stocks ?
then again, some strange exceptions were made by e.g. declaring rabbit and capybara to be fish

still, the prohibition against meat on a Friday does not have the same strength as pork for Jews and muslims

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:44 pm
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Uh oh. I may have mistakenly repeated a myth.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/201 ... -on-friday
Quote:
Let's start with a quick lesson in theology: According to Christian teaching, Jesus died on a Friday, and his death redeemed a sinful world. People have written of fasting on Friday to commemorate this sacrifice as early as the first century.

Technically, it's the flesh of warmblooded animals that's off limits — an animal "that, in a sense, sacrificed its life for us, if you will," explains Michael Foley, an associate professor at Baylor University and author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?

Fish are coldblooded, so they're considered fair game. "If you were inclined to eat a reptile on Friday," Foley tells The Salt, "you could do that, too."

Alas, Christendom never really developed a hankering for snake. But fish — well, they'd been associated with sacred holidays even in pre-Christian times. And as the number of meatless days piled up on the medieval Christian calendar — not just Fridays but Wednesdays and Saturdays, Advent and Lent, and other holy days — the hunger for fish grew. Indeed, fish fasting days became central to the growth of the global fishing industry. But not because of a pope and his secret pact.


Apologies for taking us down a likely dead end.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 8:52 pm
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I can see why Friday and fish would go together : as you quoted, Jesus died on a Friday, and guess what jesus's symbol was ? exactly, a fish !
remember also that at least half of the disciples were fishermen, and Jesus told them he was going to make them fishermen of people - so the choice of fish as representing Jesus makes sense (as opposed to snake or any other cold-blooded animal)

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Dywyddyr
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:46 pm
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Another "anti-pig" factor is that you don' get anything from pigs until they've been fed to full size and then slaughtered.
With cows & goats you get milk, with chickens you get eggs - but pigs require maintenance for years before there's any pay-off.
Perhaps this "economic disadvantage" mutated into religious fiat.


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Pong
Post  Post subject: Re: origin of pork prohibition  |  Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:14 am
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Perhaps one small contributing factor is that, for cultures to exist at all - in contrast with each other - they must have exclusive customs. I think these mostly came about by chance, unplanned, and they stuck mainly just by virtue of distinction. Like the arbitrary colours of a flag, or whether you crack your egg at the broad end or the pointy end. It needn't be a rational distinction... and perhaps it works best when it's *not* rational. Between cultures such differences are crucial.

Still I agree with the OP there ought to be some rational explanation why pork of all things was once believed a serious issue. I doubt, however, people grasped the "real" reason one way or another gave their societies sharp edges.

Maybe pig husbandry carried some economic disadvantage (to the larger group). To my knowledge it wasn't practiced - unlike cattle and goat herding - on a large scale. So while societies based on cattle would be organized by the nature of running big hierarchical ranching and slaughter operations, a society composed of lots of small-time independents who owned a few sows in the back yard, would be less cohesive and therefore fail the test of time as a unified group. We've seen similar: where Irish dodged taxation by growing potatoes, or poor American farmers prior to the 1920's kept chickens. What "sort of people" kept pigs, and were they helping unify society?


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