n Journal for Semitics - Dealing with the history-nature dualism in ecological theology

Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1013-8471


Christian theologians have been accused of contributing to humanity's alienation from nature, because they have drawn a sharp distinction between history and nature (also between humanity and nature, and God and nature). This study first offers a brief overview of studies that shed light on problems related to the history-nature dichotomy in Christian theology, and then focuses on two sets of proposed solutions to these problems: downplaying history in favour of nature, and embracing non-idealistic and non-dualistic models of the relation between history and nature. The twofold thesis of this paper is, first, that downplaying history in favour of nature may not be the most fruitful way of solving problems related to the history-nature dichotomy. This thesis is supported by literature on problem formation and problem resolution. Secondly, it argues that studies on the role of history and narrative in the formation of environmental values, and the interconnections between the histories of humans and their environments, offer useful alternatives to dualistic views of the relation between humans and the rest of the earth community. Based on these insights, the paper then offers a reading of Genesis 1:1-2:4a, which contains the biblical passage quoted most often by those who have accused Christianity of being biased against the earth and the earth community, namely Genesis 1:26-28.

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