Deuteronomy and Environmental Amnesia
Modern Westerners suffer from environmental amnesia, our failure to remember properly our intimate connections to the places in our lives and to the other inhabitants of these places, both human and non-human. Although environmental amnesia may be the underlying diagnosis of our contemporary ecological problems, in Deuteronomy and Environmental Amnesia Raymond Person argues that environmental amnesia has roots in ancient Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, and that ancient forms of environmental amnesia are evident in the book of Deuteronomy. Raymond Person combines the ecological hermeneutics of the Earth Bible project for the first time with an emerging approach in environmental philosophy--that is, environmental hermeneutics which draws significantly from the works of Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas and Ricoeur. As he explores the presence of ancient forms of environmental amnesia in Deuteronomy, he draws extensively from other approaches to the ancient Near East and the Bible that emphasize the interactions between material culture and text and that take seriously the Other as portrayed in the Bible, especially household archaeology, zooarchaeology, feminist approaches, and postcolonial approaches. His analysis discovers not only forms of environmental amnesia that the Deuteronomic school suffered from and promoted ideologically, but also partial remedies for forms of ancient environmental amnesia in some of the Deuteronomic legislation. His reflection on environmental amnesia and its partial remedies in the text of Deuteronomy provides insights into our modern forms of environmental amnesia and how we may begin to lessen its effects on the Earth community. Between the introduction and conclusion, the volume contains two parts. The first part consists of chapters on how environmental amnesia exists in various themes in Deuteronomy: the family household, land versus wildreness, Israel versus the nations, clean versus unclean animals, and urban versus rural. The second part is somewhat more like a traditional commentary, focusing on themes in selected passages, including herem in Deut. 7.1-26, the sabbath year in Deut. 15.1-18, war in Deut. 20.1-20, first-fruits and the third-year tithe in Deut. 26.1-19, and eschatology in Deut. 28.1-68 and 30.1-20
Person, Raymond F., Jr. Deuteronomy and Environmental Amnesia. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014.