24 November 2008

You actually COULD "eat this book."

A couple weeks back, the winter Cokesbury catalog arrived in the mail. As I was perusing it over at Heather's house, I was caught by the new Green Bible from HarperCollins. The Bible is made of biodegradable, 100% post-consumer recycled material, soy ink, et cetera, and they went ahead and highlighted all the verses about the earth in green ink. According to the Bible's website, "With over 1,000 references to the earth in the Bible, compared to 490 references to heaven and 530 references to love, the Bible carries a powerful message for the earth."

Fair enough.

But do we really need this? Well, Rich Cizik says "This is exactly what the church needs at this critical time." But he's probably wrong. After all, those verses were already in the Bible; the only person who would buy a Green Bible already knows that the Bible carries a powerful message for the earth. This seems to me like the Green Bible is much more about the half billion dollar Bible niche-marketing industry than it is about ecological theology.

So, I was making fun of the Green Bible pretty comfortably; then today I came across this interview with Duke Old Testament professor Ellen Davis, in which she explains why she is excited about the project. Now, she doesn't really offer up any different rationale for making a Bible like this, but I respect her judgment, so I'll probably hold my tongue a bit more.

All the same, here's a great point: The Green Bible may be a good gesture towards ecological responsibility. But rather than editing and publishing a "green" product, the true demonstration of a biblically based Christian recommitment to the earth would be to make "green" the entire Bible industry, or even all of Christian publishing. Here's hoping the Green Bible is just an inroad to bigger changes at HarperCollins, Zondervan, IVP, Abingdon, et al.

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