1 Timothy 4:1–8 is often used as a proof text against veganism; this is especially true among certain fundamentalist Christian groups and conspiracy theorists. This article argues that a closer look at its linguistic, historical, and theological context reveals that Paul is in reality seeking to uphold the goodness of creation, as described in the first chapters of Genesis, against the dualistic proto-Gnostic creation story that saw the material world as evil. In this sense, 1 Timothy 4:1–8 appears to be a point-by-point rebuttal of the proto-Gnostic view of creation, which is contrasted with the account in Genesis. In particular, the apostle is denouncing a harsh asceticism, and food restriction/deprivation, described as “bodily exercise,” which by severely mortifying the body sought deliverance from the material world. The article goes on to analyze ancient forms of asceticism as well as dietary patterns in the ancient Mediterranean in order to show how contemporary veganism differs sharply from the kind of mortification that is being condemned. 1 Timothy 4:1–8 highlights how food, generally understood, and creation should be received with thanksgiving as they are both gifts from God, which were pronounced good. Furthermore, 1 Timothy underlines that true Christian holiness does not consist in the harsh mortification of the body but in an inner holiness based on love and faith in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. Ultimately, veganism, far from being anti-Christian, as God’s original ideal, can be seen as a sign of hope pointing to the coming of the Kingdom of God and the restoration of creation beyond all violence, suffering, and death.

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