Where did we get the notion that dogs were "man's best friend"? Probably not from the Bible, says Edward Stourton. From the pages of British publication the Telegraph, Stourton points out that the "Good Book" isn't so sweet on our canine companions. "In the First Book of Kings, dogs are used to curse Jeroboam," Stourton notes, while "in the New Testament," he writes, "the Second Letter of St. Peter explicitly links dogs with that most unclean of animals, the pig." This makes dog-owner Stourton wonder:
The goats in Bedouin settlements outside Jerusalem may be a little dusty, but the biblical scribes surely never encountered anything remotely like a spaniel back from a ramble in the English countryside.
Kudu [Stourton's dog] has recently been walked in North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and on the Surrey Downs. The pattern is always the same. First, he gets wet and looks bedraggled ... he finds a fetid puddle and sinks his legs and tummy down as far as they will go. Then we rub him down in an affectionate way, as if all this is somehow endearing.
Surely we, not those who gave us the Bible, should be hurling imprecations at this wilful wallowing in filth.
While Stourton muses on the possible place of dogs' human-like and yet distinctly animal qualities in this discrepancy, the question remains unanswered: what does the Bible have against dogs?
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