By Ellen F. Davis

This booklet examines the theology and ethics of land use, particularly the practices of recent industrialized agriculture, in gentle of serious biblical exegesis. 9 interrelated essays discover the biblical writers' pervasive hindrance for the care of arable land opposed to the historical past of the geography, social constructions, and spiritual considered old Israel. This process always brings out missed points of texts, either poetry and prose, which are relevant to Jewish and Christian traditions. instead of looking strategies from the prior, Davis creates a talk among old texts and modern agrarian writers; hence she offers a clean viewpoint from which to view the harmful practices and assumptions that now dominate the worldwide foodstuff economic climate. The biblical exegesis is wide-ranging and complex; the language is literate and obtainable to a wide viewers.

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I leave those words untranslated for a moment, because any translation dissolves the meaningful ambiguity in both verbal phrases. A common translation is “to till it and tend it” (NJPS), but that implies that the terms are horticultural and agricultural, and they are not. ‘-b-d is the ordinary verb equivalent to English “work,” and it normally means to work for someone, divine or human, as a servant, slave, or worshiper. , Gen. 2:5; 3:23; 4:2). ” But the wider usage of the verb suggests that it is legitimate also to view the human task as working for the garden soil, serving its needs.

The massive infertile “overburden” of rock is pushed into the nearby valleys, burying the topsoil and filling the streams. Mountaintop removal is an emblematic act. Along with nuclear testing, this is the most dramatic rupture of the created order that North Americans have effected on our own continent. In Appalachia, the oldest part of our continent – the place where God began work on our quadrant of the globe – we are proceeding to return God’s handiwork to utter formlessness and waste, t¯ohˆu w¯ab¯ohˆu, stripping bare one of the most biologically diverse temperate forest regions in the world.

8 destroying the heartland Mountaintop removal is an emblematic act but not an isolated one, any more than Auschwitz was an isolated phenomenon. Only by degrees and over centuries is the way prepared for such an onslaught, acts that strike at some part of the created order for which God has special care, acts that change quickly and forever the face of the globe and its human history. Moreover, such aggressive, targeted actions must be abetted in the present by a myriad of smaller, casual acts of contempt for “the work of God’s hands” – a term that the biblical writers apply to both human beings and the earth itself.

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