Discover the Israelite Theology of the Land and Nature in Understanding the Ecology of the Bible

By Amy Paulsen-Reed, Sales Representative and Assistant Editor

“Chief among its voices is the insistence that because God cares for the land and people that he made, people should care for their land and each other as well.”

—Paul H. Wright, Understanding the Ecology of the Bible

In Carta’s new book, Understanding the Ecology of the Bible: An Introductory Atlas, biblical scholar Paul H. Wright unpacks not only the topography, geology, climate, flora, and fauna of the ancient land of Israel, but what it all meant for how they understood God and their relationship with him. In Understanding the Ecology of the Bible, Wright argues that understanding how the ancient Israelites understood and related to the natural world around them is key to our own understanding of the Bible today:

But how important was the concept of “the land” to the ancient Israelites? Very important! The land is mentioned more than almost every other word in the Hebrew Bible, with the exception of some other key terms:

What did the phrase “land flowing with milk and honey” mean to the Israelites?

Wright discusses the fact that although the phrase “land flowing with milk and honey” conveys bounty and abundance to our modern ears, this actually wasn’t the original connotation:

A theological understanding of the Garden of Eden

Wright discusses the biblical connections between the land of Israel and the Garden of Eden, and ties that into this idea that God provides “enough”:

Wright sums up the parallels between Jerusalem/the land of Israel and the Garden of Eden:

The specifics of ancient Israelite ecology and the natural world

In order to help the reader familiarize herself with the specifics of the natural world, Wright provides highly visual and accessible text and graphics to explain ancient Israelite topography:

Israelite trade relationships:

Israelite geology:

The climate of the land of Israel:

And the land’s flora and fauna:

Conclusion

In Understanding the Ecology of the Bible, Wright enlightens us by opening a door into understanding a key aspect of ancient Israelite life and thought: the land. And he not only talks about the land and its various characteristics, but he helps us to incorporate that knowledge into a biblical and theological understanding that enriches our reading of the Bible and informs our attempts to apply this ancient text to our lives.


Amy Paulsen-Reed is an Assistant Editor and Sales Representative at Hendrickson Publishers. She has a doctorate in Hebrew Bible from Harvard University, where she focused on Jewish biblical interpretation in antiquity. She lives in Gloucester, MA with her husband Michael and her daughter Lillian. She is a self-confessed language and grammar nerd, and enjoys cooking, baking, and napping in her spare time.


Paul H. Wright is President of Jerusalem University College (the Institute of Holy Land Studies). He holds a BA degree in anthropology from Bethel University, an MA degree in the history of ancient Israel from the Institute of Holy Land Studies, an MA degree in Old Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and MPhil and PhD degrees in Bible and Ancient Near East from Hebrew Union College. He is an ordained minister and also teaches courses on the culture, history, and geography of the lands of the Bible.

For more information about Understanding the Ecology of the Bible, as well as Paul Wright’s other books, visit our website or click on the below cover images!

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