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Reading Green

Tactical Considerations for Reading the Bible Ecologically


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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This volume had a very modest aim. It sought to describe the field of ecological hermeneutics and to suggest various tactical considerations that would enhance the field as it stands in the effort to read the Bible ecologically. In large measure, it proceeded as a conversation with the approach to ecological hermeneutics articulated by Norman Habel and the Earth Bible Project, affirming that model as it suggested ways to expand upon it and to explore other ways in which we might read the Bible ecologically. It would have been too ambitious at this stage to endeavor to construct a fully orbed ecological criticism. The field is in a rather nascent stage of its development, and at this stage it is perhaps best to make suggestions for ways to go about reading ecologically as a next step. Of course, the value of these suggestions ultimately appears in application over a wide variety of biblical texts to see if they provide fruitful avenues of investigation. Only as they produce useful insights into addressing the ecological crisis will these suggestions prove their merit. From here, it remains to begin reading.

By way of conclusion, it may prove helpful to distill some observations—I hesitate to call them principles—on the process of ecological hermeneutics, as drawn from the preceding studies. It would be redundant simply to summarize where we have already been. The following list proceeds in simple bullet points, succeeding points in some way flowing out of what...

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