This book examines the theology and ethics of land use, especially the practices of modern industrialized agriculture, in light of critical biblical exegesis. Nine interrelated essays explore the biblical writers' pervasive concern for the care of arable land against the background of the geography, social structures, and religious thought of ancient Israel. This approach consistently brings out neglected aspects of texts, both poetry and prose, that are central to Jewish and Christian traditions. Rather than seeking solutions from the past, Davis creates a conversation between ancient texts and contemporary agrarian writers; thus she provides a fresh perspective from which to view the destructive practices and assumptions that now dominate the global food economy. The biblical exegesis is wide-ranging and sophisticated; the language is literate and accessible to a broad audience.
Ellen F. Davis is Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke University Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. She is the author of Who Are You, My Daughter? Reading Ruth Through Image and Text; Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and Getting Involved with God; and Imagination Shaped.
Wendell Berry, an essayist, novelist, and poet, has been honored with the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the John Hay Award of the Orion Society, and the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, among others. In 2010, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by Barack Obama, and in 2016, he was the recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle. He lives with his wife, Tanya, on their farm in Henry County, Kentucky.
"Davis writes eloquently about biblical texts on agriculture, looking for insight into 'the material sources of life.' To disregard the environment, food production and treatment of animals in scripture is to miss reflection on essential aspects of life in the presence of God." --Christian Century (Take & Read) "The biblical writers were familiar with disputes over land use and land care, and the economics of food production were critical to their perspective. Reading the Bible from this perspective opens up dialogue with contemporary agrarians like Wendell Berry, who wrote the foreword for this book. However far from the land we may live, issues of stewardship, care and justice remain crucial. Davis argues that the Bible provides 'vision and principle' for land use in our time." --Christian Century "This is a lucid, wide-ranging, and thought provoking book that should be read by everyone in biblical studies, and should be assigned as a textbook in courses on biblical methods, Torah, prophets, and ecological hermeneutics." --The Biblical & Critical Theory