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The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics
Humans, NonHumans, and the Living Landscape

$99.99 (C)

  • Date Published: July 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108476447

$ 99.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The environmental crisis has prompted religious leaders and lay people to look to their traditions for resources to respond to environmental degradation. In this book, Mari Joerstad contributes to this effort by examining an ignored feature of the Hebrew Bible: its attribution of activity and affect to trees, fields, soil, and mountains. The Bible presents a social cosmos, in which humans are one kind of person among many. Using a combination of the tools of biblical studies and anthropological writings on animism, Joerstad traces the activity of non-animal nature through the canon. She shows how biblical writers go beyond sustainable development, asking us to be good neighbors to mountains and trees, and to be generous to our fields and vineyards. They envision human communities that are sources of joy to plants and animals. The Biblical writers' attention to inhabited spaces is particularly salient for contemporary environmental ethics in their insistence that our cities, suburbs, and villages contribute to flourishing landscapes.

    • The first book to look at texts across the canon in which non-animal nature acts, displays emotion, or is addressed by God and/or humans
    • Provides a new approach for faith communities to engage in and respond to the climate crisis, and gives churches and synagogues tools to think about human relationships with all that is not human
    • Presents an in-depth discussion of how the more foreign or difficult concepts of nature in the Hebrew Bible may influence contemporary environmental ethics, and draws on 'new animism', a current school in anthropology
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘In this groundbreaking study, Mari Joerstad has found a new convergence between biblical studies and ecology. Exploring the ‘living landscapes' of the Bible, from the creation texts of Genesis to the Song of Songs, Joerstad has charted a new landscape of research as well as a new pathway for action, one that has a distinctly aesthetic trajectory. In this work, the author proves to be both an artist and an exegete, a welcome combination.' William P. Brown, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

    ‘This book is a wide-ranging and important study of environmental ethics in relation to the Hebrew Bible but in the broad context of studies in animism, anthropology and metaphor theory. It is at the cutting edge of ideas about the role of nature in human life and thought and the way that is depicted through metaphorical language in the Hebrew Bible. It is a highly readable book, with the author persuading us that the topic is integral to our understanding of ourselves as human beings both in relationship to, and with responsibility for, the world around us.' Katharine J. Dell, University of Cambridge

    'Her book offers scriptural groundwork for cultivating the kind of religious imagination that makes sense of the spiritual need people have for a holy space in which to confess environmental sins together and repent for the harm they’ve caused.' Isaac S. Villegas, The Christian Century

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108476447
    • length: 254 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Interacting with the world: 'new animism', metaphor theory, and personalistic nature texts
    3. A watchful world: personalistic nature texts in the Torah
    4. A sentient world: personalistic nature texts in the Prophets
    5. An articulate world: personalistic nature texts in the Writings
    6. Conclusion: befriending the world.

  • Author

    Mari Joerstad, Duke University, North Carolina
    Mari Joerstad is Research Associate at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, North Carolina, where she works on Facing the Anthropocene, a project funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

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