Animal Theology: A Day School

Oxford University Department of Continuing Education
Saturday 16th June, 2007, 10am – 4pm.

Tutor: The Revd Profesor Andrew Linzey

Like feminist theology and ecological theology, animal theology is concerned with understanding animals from a theological standpoint, and explores fundamental questions such as: what status should animals have? how should we relate to them? and how should we treat them? The aim of the course is to help people think creatively and critically about the history of Christian thought and how it currently impacts, both positively and negatively, on our attitudes to animals.

The first session will be concerned with exploring the dominant voices within the tradition that have regarded animals as creatures made for our use – without immortal souls, rationality, or value in themselves. Particular attention will be paid to the thought of Augustine, Aquinas, and Luther. In the second session, consideration will be given to various sub-traditions of Christian thought – reflected in apocryphal literature and hagiography – that have offered alternative perspectives and fostered animal-friendly attitudes.

The third session will consider how far it is possible to sustain a rational case for the better treatment of animals using both philosophical and theological sources. It will be argued that despite many of its less than positive attitudes, the Christian tradition still possesses the resources for regarding sentient creatures as warranting special moral consideration. The final session will explore the ethical implications in greater detail. Each session will allow time for discussion.

For more information, contact the Day School Administrator, Oxford University Department of Contiunuing Education, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA. Tel: 01865 270368 or email