The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics / The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor
The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics: Humans, Nonhumans, and the Living Landscape
Cambridge University Press, 2019, 246pp, hbk
The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor: Hearing Justice in John’s Gospel
Kathleen P Rushton
SCM Press, 2020, 256pp, pbk
Mari Joerstad’s exploration of environmental ethics in the Hebrew Bible is fascinating. Proceeding from the idea that poetic phrases like ‘the earth devours’, ‘mountains skip’, or ‘trees clap their hands’ are not merely metaphors, but expressions of belief that non-human, even non-animal, natural entities are worthy of respect, interaction, and of being recognized as in active relationship with God, Joerstad believes that they can, in fact, be regarded as ‘persons’. This treads a careful line between animism, where nature is inhabited by spirits or deities, and the idea that non-human entities are merely objects: ‘either gods or stage dressing’, as Joerstad puts it. The natural world, created before humanity, has a value to God in its own right, obeying God’s will and co-operating with God in upholding justice.