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Reading Green

Tactical Considerations for Reading the Bible Ecologically

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Jeffrey S. Lamp

Reading Green: Tactical Considerations for Reading the Bible Ecologically operates on the premise that the Bible itself does not directly address the current ecological crisis and that expecting it to do so is anachronistic, for there was no ecological crisis on the agendas of biblical authors as they penned their works. The true challenge in the field is engaging biblical texts that do not present a positive ecological message (e.g., the stories of the flood and the plagues), or that seem to focus their messages so narrowly on human subjects and their interests that they marginalize or ignore the concerns of the other-than-human creation. To address this issue, this book provides a series of reading strategies which begin with the current ecological crisis. Present areas of interest, such as environmental racism and justice, film criticism, and reception history and exegesis, are employed to construct various approaches to mine the Bible for its contribution in addressing the current ecological crisis.

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Chapter Four: Just Who Is the Lorax? Cli-Fi, Reception Exegesis, and Reading the Bible Ecologically

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chapter four

Just Who Is the Lorax? Cli-Fi, Reception Exegesis, and Reading the Bible Ecologically

Introduction

An assertion voiced repeatedly throughout this volume has been that the starting point for reading the Bible ecologically is the current ecological crisis. This is because the Bible itself does not directly address this crisis, necessitating that the crisis set the interpretive agenda for interrogating the Bible for its voice in addressing current environmental degradation. In this vein, the present chapter proposes to employ reception exegesis to examine an example from a genre of contemporary film known as “cli-fi” (short for “climate fiction”) as an entry point into consideration of what the Bible might say about the current ecological crisis. This chapter will examine The Lorax (2012), identifying several themes that may be brought to bear on the biblical text in order to elucidate how the Bible might address today’s environmental context.

If the biblical texts do not directly address today’s ecological crisis, it is not surprising that there are relatively few current cinematic artifacts concerning this crisis that derive from the Bible, though our earlier examination of the film Noah suggested that this was precisely what Darren Aronofsky accomplished in his treatment of the biblical story. So at first blush, the appropriation of reception exegesis seems to be a category mistake. We will contend, however, that a film need not explicitly exemplify the reception of a biblical text in order for reception←74 | 75→ exegesis...

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