Eco Bible: Volume 1, An Ecological Commentary on Genesis and Exodus 


Book: Eco Bible: Volume 1, An Ecological Commentary on Genesis and Exodus   

Authors: Yonatan Neril and Leo Dee

Cover Illustrators: Austin Rubben and Tien Vu

Publisher:  Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, 2020

ISBN-13: 978-1735338835 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1735338834 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-1735338804 Paperback

ISBN-10: 173533880X Paperback

Related website(s): (publisher)

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level:  Of interest primarily to adults

Rating:  *** 3 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Bible study

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Neril, Yonatan, and Dee, Leo.  Eco Bible: Volume I, An Ecological Commentary on Genesis and Exodus (Published in 2020 by The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development).   The purpose of this book, referred to as a “green Bible commentary,” is to answer the question, “What can the Bible tell us about ecology?”   Drawing on 3,500 years of religious ethics, Rabbis Yonatan Neril and Leo Dee, co-editors and lead contributors, quote over 100 rabbis from Biblical times right up to the present to show how the Bible itself and its great scholars embrace care for God’s creation as a fundamental and living message and to motivate action to protect all of God’s creation.

     Not everyone will agree with all the presuppositions that underlie the book, such as man-made climate change, but ecologically minded readers interested in what the rabbis have to say about the Hebrew Bible and those who support a faith-based environmental commitment, that emphasizes how to live in harmony with nature and the power of conservation, will find it interesting.  Volume 1 explores Genesis and Exodus; Volume 2 (2021) explores Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Together they cover 450 verses in the Five Books of Moses, linking faith and science, and connecting religion with contemporary thought regarding human health, biodiversity, and clean air, land, and water.

     Certainly the idea of applying Biblical ethics to stewardship, conservation, and creation care is good, and the authors include a number of suggested specific action items along those lines that many may find helpful.  However, I do offer a closing caveat.  It has been my experience that in seeking to find what Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet calls “the ever-increasing number of fresh understandings of the Bible’s verses,” it can possibly become very easy for the would-be expositor to stretch and skew the Biblical text to make it appear that the Scriptures support some pre-conceived agenda.

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