Mari Joerstad – The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics

Episode: Trees are people too! While this claim may come as a surprise to many listeners, it’s familiar territory for biblical authors. Trees, mountains, skies, plants … all of these bear the capacity for relationships of responsiveness with humans, animals, and most significantly, God. Dr. Mari Joerstad explores the rich array of texts in the Hebrew Bible that express the land’s personhood, it’s capacity for a reciprocal relationship. The land can “give” its produce and fruit, mourn, bear moral and cultic responsibilities, participate in warfare, praise God, and much more. Moreover, God and humans are in a (sometimes complicated) relationship with non-human/non-animal persons throughout the Hebrew Bible. This carries significant spiritual and environmental implications that Mari Joerstad explores in her new book The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethicsand that we discuss in this episode!

Guest: Dr. Mari Joerstad is a research associate at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, where she’s working on a project called “Facing the Anthropocene.” She graduated with a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from Duke Divinity School, and is the author of The Hebrew Bible and Environmental Ethics: Humans, Non-Humans, and the Living Landscape (Cambridge, 2020). She has recently been appointed as Dean of the Vancouver School of Theology, a post that will commence in the summer of 2021.

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