The Green Bible [review]

There are probably two types of bibles: those that want to start a conversation, and those that want to add to the conversation.

  • My previous review on the Bible Illuminated was obviously the former as the book tries to draw people in via unconventional forms and means. 
  • This bible, The Green Bible, is probably part of the latter.
Essentially, The Green Bible takes a cue from the red-letter KJVs (the ones with the words of Christ in red) and puts all the words that deal with environmental topics or creation care in green. It colors them if they fall into one of four criteria.  Passages that show:
  1. how God and Jesus are involved with Creation.
  2. how all elements (land, water, plants, humans, animals, etc) are interdependent
  3. how nature responds to God.
  4. how we are called to care for creation. 
I'll admit that my first impressions were negative. I am weary of these types of color-coded bibles. The redline KJVs often highlight the Messianic texts in the Old Testament, to my annoyance. But more importantly, one of my first bibles in college was The Five Gospels where the Jesus Seminar went through the Gospels and color-coded them based on how close they were to the original words of Jesus. This sort of thoughtful yet arbitrary color-coding did not make a strong impression on me (except how much of John is second-generation).

All that said, here's some joys and concerns.

Joys
There's some excellent "extras" found in the essays at the front of the text. Barbara Brown Taylor's treatment of cattle and humans in the Creation story is hilarious and poignant. Gordon Aeschliman connects creation care with poverty initiatives. Brian McLaren talks about human sin taking precedence over Creation being Good and traces the extra-biblical notion of this Creation being disregarded.

Better yet is the "green trails" at the end which trace certain elements of Creation texts through Scripture: There are study and question guides on six topics, such as Creation as "Good," being connected to Creation, the impact of human sin, and creation care as justice.  I essentially got six bible studies that I can get really excited about for $20...a bargain!

Concerns
Some of the texts highlighted are done because "they show Jesus or God interacting with nature."  However, as eco-ethicist Marla Marcum told me, not all those passages are meant to be centered on how God or Jesus interact with nature, but simply to show the power of God. The ways how JC and God interact with Creation are not meant to be lessons of how we should, but rather exemplifications of the power of God. Take heed!

Conclusion
While not as revolutionary as the Bible Illuminated, The Green Bible is not meant to be so.  It is meant as a tool for personal or group study, and has many practical impacts. It is meant to add to the conversation to answer the questions of "what did Jesus have to say about recycling" and traces biblical themes in response. 

Thoughts or impressions?

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8 comments:

Jeffrey P. Moore,  November 20, 2008 at 3:49 PM  

I guess I just figured it might also be printed on recycled paper and maybe even come in an electronic version. (Maybe it does and you just did not mention it).

Rev. Jeremy Smith November 20, 2008 at 11:31 PM  

whoops, yes, Jeffrey, thanks. It is printed on recycled paper and the cover is recycled too...it's flexible like a Frankenstein mushy middle between a hardcover and a paperback. Minus the stitches.

Nathan Mattox November 21, 2008 at 1:11 PM  

I was excited to see it come out, but in the interest of consuming less (an ecological principle), I think I'll forgo buying it since I already have the Earth Bible Commentary

Matt Oxley,  November 22, 2008 at 2:10 PM  

how wise Nathan! lol

I still haven't found anything as enjoyable as a Dake

Anonymous,  December 5, 2008 at 2:42 AM  

All i can say is that god can do anything if u really know he made us and everything around us how can u think about this stuff recycling all i know is if he really wants to he can clean up the planet in a snap of his fingers so why publish this when u already know the answer.

Rev. Jeremy Smith December 5, 2008 at 6:26 AM  

@ Anonymous #6, We have been given a responsibility. It's a rejection of our Imago Dei, our being created in the image of God, if we reject that we have a role to play in Creation. I don't want to be like the Apostles, watching Jesus raised up to the clouds, standing there for an eternity waiting; we are called to act now.

xxhockeylover8xx November 29, 2009 at 5:36 PM  

I recently purchaced this Bible and I love it.

It is made of recycled paper, and is printed with soy based inks, and has a cotton/linen cover.

I really like this Bible a lot.

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