Vol 20 No 1 2013

Ecological Appropriation of Joel

Neil W. Bergmann


Most modern ecological-hermeneutical approaches to biblical interpretation of prophetic texts have concentrated on identifying the ecological significance of the text in its original historical context. Given the urgency of concerns about the modern ecological crisis, there is also a need to use scripture to assist in development of contemporary environmental ethics within an industrialised society. This paper describes a technique called ecological appropriation which seeks to take a biblical text, in this case the book of Joel, and apply its message to modern ecological concerns, whilst still preserving its fundamental theological message. This technique yields new insights into an appropriate, biblically-inspired response to the ecological crisis which involves key steps of acknowledgement, mourning, repentance, judgement, return to God, and restoration.