Mouth of the Donkey

Re-imagining Biblical Animals

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
94 Pages
Reviewed on 04/24/2023
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Delene Vrey for Readers' Favorite

The Hebrew Torah and, therefore, the Old Testament of the Christian Bible contains many instances where animals are directly used to let God's will be done. Many instances, if not most, have the donkey as a means of transport, support, or companionship. God sent ravens to take care of Elijah, and throughout the Old Testament, we find metaphors used that include locust swarms that remind us of armies and wolves among sheep as evil men stirring among God's people. But have we ever tried to look at the animals as they are and view the Biblical world from their eyes? Laura Duhan-Kaplan does just that. She looks at some of the more well-known animals in the Bible and views them first as the species they are and the characteristics that we know and further deduce from observing them. Mouth of the Donkey: Re-imagining Biblical Animals is a refreshingly different take on the animals in the Bible and the meaning they bring to the text, both in Biblical context and how that may be made relevant today.

Mouth of the Donkey by Laura Duhan-Kaplan is a well-researched book about the metaphors and meaning of animals in the Bible. The author gives well-researched and thought-through ideas. What makes this book special is how the author draws comparisons between the animal metaphors and today's world. She posits that man can be a lone grasshopper but change into a locust, part of a violent destructive mass through circumstance, just as men can be known as snakes and the innocent as sheep. In my mind, this book can bring depth to the already well-known animals in the Bible that we tend to gloss over to find the "human" side of the meaning of the text. Maybe when we form our Biblical view by including the rich context of the animals we encounter there, our faith will be enriched. Likewise, our balance with nature might become closer to the ideal, broken when we shed our "first skin" and opened our eyes to the new world where sin was present. Indeed, food for the literary-minded, this is a delightful read.

Hayley Haun

Mouth of the Donkey: Re-imagining Biblical Animals by Laura Duhan-Kaplan reads like a theologian scholar’s playground. All the animals have a purpose in God’s plan, from the sheep, lions, and donkeys to everything in between. Duhan-Kaplan re-imagines the common Biblical tales and how they fit into ecology, biology, indigenous folklore, rabbinic midrash, and the Kabbalah. Each animal is symbolic in some way of each of these disciplines. Animals help us humans to steer away from violence and embrace peace. Like Balaam’s donkey in the Bible, who lay down when he saw the angel of the Lord, we too must open our eyes to the important things, rather than closing them in ignorance.

In Mouth of the Donkey, Duhan Kaplan says this of these creatures: “Sometimes they notice things humans don’t. They think, feel, and communicate about things we don’t even know exist. They have senses we cannot even imagine. For example, humans have a sense of smell. But dogs have a sense of scent. Dog noses receive information that our noses don’t.” This quote about dogs reminds me of my pets. Every time I come home, they must first inspect where I’ve been. They can tell the story behind the places I visited. What was there or maybe who was there? Perhaps animals have a sixth sense. Think back to Balaam’s Donkey. The donkey saw what Balaam could not. It is through the donkey we learn what fealty and faith are. It is through all these countless events, tales, and oral stories that we learn a lesson.

Vincent Dublado

Mouth of the Donkey: Re-imagining Biblical Animals by Laura Duhan-Kaplan takes a second look at the representation of animals in biblical tales. This ten-year project is the collaboration of ideas as well as blending with the author’s scholarship in philosophy, theology, and spirituality shared in classes, sermons, and lectures. With the Bible as one of the oldest known surviving symbolic representations of nature ever written, this work connects meanings to a variety of ideas and practices that testify to our eternal recurring fascination with animals and how they contribute to shaping our relationship with God and nature. The book kick-starts by questioning a view of humans as being the most complex animal in creation and as storytellers that shaped biblical texts over time. Moreover, ecological activism permeates the theme as environmental ethics saturates the book.

So why a non-fiction re-imagining of biblical animals? For the purpose of continuous learning that hinges on hope in a world filled with problems, it is imperative that we re-think what we have learned in the old ways and come up with an assessment of whether or not they remain relevant to this day and age. As animals wander in and out of biblical literature, Laura Duhan-Kaplan effectively digs into art, history, and philosophy to call attention to the relevance of biblical interpretation and its connection to interdisciplinary animal studies. This has come at an impeccable time considering that questions about animals continue to be raised in different areas of discipline including humanities and social sciences. Laura Duhan-Kaplan's book will provide you with new perspectives on the Bible’s animal stories. Mouth of the Donkey is highly recommended for those who love to engage their minds in critical and creative thinking.