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Old Testament Essays

versión On-line ISSN 2312-3621
versión impresa ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.22 no.1 Pretoria  2009


Challenges in the search for an ecotheology



Peet van Dyk






It is the purpose of this article to expose the reasons why ecological issues previously played such an insignificant role in biblical theology and thereby introduce some burning questions which need to be discussed in future by ecotheologians. The Bible is often accused of being hostile or indifferent toward the environment. The main focal points for these accusations were: the idea expressed in Genesis 1:28 and Psalm 8 that humans should subdue the earth and rule over it, an anthropocentric viewpoint, changes in social structure brought about by patriarchal monotheism, the negative evaluation of the wilderness concept and the problematic land promises in the Pentateuch. The absence of a biblical concept of nature and the lack of attention given to the earth in wisdom literature were further identified as reasons why the Bible may seem indifferent to the earth. For various other philosophical and theological reasons, nature and the environment have not featured prominently (if at all) in biblical theology. Various urgent questions are posed to ecotheologians in conclusion.



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Peet van Dyk
Professor of Old Testament
Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
University of South Africa
PO Box 392, Pretoria, 0003, South Africa

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