Saturday, 15 September 2012

Books on Creation Care from a Christian Perspective

I was asked to lead a day workshop on creation care, exploring the biblical foundation for Christian environmental concern and action. Below is the list of (mostly recent) books I recommended for those who wanted to explore further.

Fred Bahnson and Norman Wirzba, Making Peace with the Land: God’s Call to Reconcile with Creation (Downers Grove: IVP, 2012).
Part of USA IVP’s ‘Resources for Reconciliation’ series, this one argues that God’s plan of reconciliation is bound up with God’s redemption and restoration of all creation.

Richard Bauckham, The Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2010).
One of the best in the area from a careful and seasoned biblical scholar. His distinctive contribution, perhaps, is articulated in the subtitle – calling us to recognise our place not just as stewards over creation but as part of the community of creation.

Richard Bauckham, Living with Other Creatures: Green Exegesis and Theology (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2012).
A collection of scholarly essays written by Bauckham over the years, but conveniently gathered together in one book.

R.J. Berry (ed.), The Care of Creation: Focusing Concern and Action (Leicester: IVP, 2000).
Takes its cue from the 1994 ‘Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation’, effectively providing a commentary on the statement via relatively short chapters by a range of contributors.

Dave Bookless, Planetwise: Dare to Care for God’s World (Nottingham: IVP, 2008).
An excellent read, offering a whole-Bible perspective along with reflections on ‘living it out’. Probably the best place to start.

Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, 2nd edn. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010).
This second edition was published in Baker’s ‘Engaging Culture’ series, providing a wide-ranging and highly lauded treatment of the topic.

Ellen F. Davis, Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
A stimulating work. Drawing on ‘agrarian theory’ in her reading of Scripture, Davis uses agrarianism as a lens for reading a variety of biblical texts (from the Law, Psalms, Wisdom, Prophecy, and historical narrative) and finds them illumined in the process – particularly where agrarianism is seen not just as a narrow concern with farming but in broader terms as ‘a way of thinking and ordering life in community that is based on the health of the land and of living creatures’.

Calvin B. DeWitt, Earthwise: A Guide to Hopeful Creation Care, 3rd edn. (Grand Rapids: Faith Alive, 2010).
Tonally warm and positive, with practical suggestions, and including ideas for reflection and discussion with others. Make sure to get the 2010 edition.

Normal C. Habel (ed.), Readings from the Perspective of the Earth, The Earth Bible 1 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000).
The lead volume in ‘The Earth Bible’ series, with several scholars reading a variety of biblical texts from the perspective of the ‘living voice’ and ‘intrinsic value’ of The Earth, often resulting in interpretations that are critical of what is understood to be the perspective of the Bible. There are several other volumes in the series covering different parts of the Bible – Genesis, Wisdom, Psalms and Prophets, etc. For an introduction to the project, see Norman C. Habel, ‘The Earth Bible Project’.

Margot Hodson, Uncovering Isaiah’s Environmental Ethics, Grove Ethics Series 161 (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2011).
A helpful booklet-length treatment of the ‘natural’ metaphors in Isaiah. See also Marlow (below) and Sluka (also below) for other helpful Grove Books.

David G. Horrell, The Bible and the Environment: Towards a Critical Ecological Biblical Theology (London: Equinox, 2010).
Written by one of the scholars at the forefront of ‘ecological hermeneutics’, this is an excellent and readable overview of the main issues and the main biblical passages. Horrell is painfully honest about where he thinks Scripture is supportive of a ‘green’ agenda and where he considers it is not quite as positive as we might wish it would be!

David G. Horrell, Cherryl Hunt, Christopher Southgate, and Francesca Stavrakopoulou (eds.), Ecological Hermeneutics: Biblical, Historical and Theological Perspectives (London: T&T Clark International, 2010).
A collection of academic essays, written from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Not an easy read, but definitely worth trying out if you want to dig deeper into issues surrounding the relationship between ecology and biblical interpretation.

David G. Horrell, Cherryl Hunt, Christopher Southgate (eds.), Greening Paul: Reading the Apostle in a Time of Ecological Crisis (Baylor: University of Baylor Press, 2010).
Similar in outlook to the above item, but focused on Paul, particularly the creation ‘narratives’ found in Romans 8:19-22 and Colossians 1:15-20.

James Jones, Jesus and the Earth (London: SPCK, 2003).
A short book, arguing that Jesus is not only the saviour of humanity, but of the planet and cosmos too.

Hilary Marlow, The Earth is the Lord’s: A Biblical Response to Environmental Issues, Grove Biblical Series 50 (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2008).
Crams a lot into a 28-page booklet, and well worth reading for a quick overview. Hilary Marlow is also the author of a fuller, more technical (and very expensive!) treatment of the prophets: Biblical Prophets and Contemporary Environmental Ethics (Oxford: OUP, 2009).

Carol S. Robb, Wind, Sun, Soil, Spirit: Biblical Ethics and Climate Change (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010).
Integrates discussion of economic theory, environmental policy, and biblical ethics, focusing mostly on Jesus and Paul, with an emphasis on community and justice.

Colin A. Russell, Saving Planet Earth: A Christian Response (Milton Keynes: Authentic, 2008).
A short overview.

Robert D. Sluka, Hope for the Ocean: Marine Conservation, Poverty Alleviation and Blessing the Nations, Grove Ethics Series 165 (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2012).
A recognition that the oceans are as much a part of the ‘environment’ as the land, and a look at how the biblical principles of sabbath, justice, and humility might apply to the setting up of marine protection areas.

Nick Spencer and Robert White, Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living (London: SPCK, 2007).
Based on careful research, outlining the nature of the problem before going on to explore the biblical perspective and the Christian response.

Dan Story, Should Christians Be Environmentalists? (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012).
A very helpful overview; along with Bookless (above) and Marlow (above), a good place to start for someone who is fairly new in exploring the area.

Sarah Tillet (ed.), Caring for Creation: Biblical and Theological Perspectives (Oxford: Bible Reading Fellowship, 2005).
Chapters on the teaching of different sections of Scripture are helpfully interspersed with stories drawn from the work of A Rocha.

Noah J. Toly and Daniel I. Block (eds.), Keeping God’s Earth: The Global Environment in Biblical Perspective (Nottingham: Apollos, 2010).
An excellent collection of scholarly essays, covering cities and the world, the diversity of life, water resources, and climate change.

Laura Ruth Yordy, Green Witness: Ecology, Ethics, and the Kingdom of God (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2007).
Argues that Christians can and should work for the wholeness of the environment whether or not our efforts bear immediate visible fruit, because God always makes good use of faithful discipleship. Points out that although we cannot save the earth, we might be able to show even in small ways what a saved earth might look like!

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