Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible



This Book Examines The Theology And Ethics Of Land Use, Especially The Practices Of Modern Industrialized Agriculture, In Light Of Critical Biblical Exegesis Nine Interrelated Essays Explore The Biblical Writers Pervasive Concern For The Care Of Arable Land Against The Background Of The Geography, Social Structures, And Religious Thought Of Ancient Israel This Approach Consistently Brings Out Neglected Aspects Of Texts, Both Poetry And Prose, That Are Central To Jewish And Christian Traditions Rather Than Seeking Solutions From The Past, Davis Creates A Conversation Between Ancient Texts And Contemporary Agrarian Writers Thus She Provides A Fresh Perspective From Which To View The Destructive Practices And Assumptions That Now Dominate The Global Food Economy The Biblical Exegesis Is Wide Ranging And Sophisticated The Language Is Literate And Accessible To A Broad Audience.Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible

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  • Paperback
  • 234 pages
  • Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible
  • Ellen F. Davis
  • English
  • 01 June 2018
  • 0521732239

10 thoughts on “Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible

  1. says:

    As the outgrowth of my own personal investment in both the works of Wendell Berry and the deep study of the Old Testament, it seems only natural that I would eventually turn to this stirring combination of those two loves Ellen F Davis is perhaps the only theologian I could ve imagined to approach the topics of agriculture and agrarianism from the biblical perspective and do so with such intensive mastery The result of these two streams coming together is majestic, providing both a thorough o As the outgrowth of my own personal investment in both the works of Wendell Berry and the deep study of the Old Testament, it seems only natural that I would eventually turn to this stirring combination of those two loves Ellen F Davis is perhaps the only theologian I could ve imagined to approach the topics of agriculture and agrarianism from the biblical perspective and do so with such intensive mastery The result of these two streams coming together is majestic, providing both a thorough on ramp into agrounded study of the Old Testament as it was written i.e from an agricultural perspective for both other agrarians and Babylon like urbanizing forces as well as for a direct critique of our culture s abstract, technological universalism These critiques Davis articulates as the inheritance of both the late modern agrarians Berry, et al including Wes Jackson and Norman Wirzba and of the agrarians of the Old Testament from diverse sources ranging from the Torah to the agrarian prophets Amos and Hosea to the author of the Song of Songs.That there is a natural confluence between the work of, say, Wendell Berry and the agrarianism of the Old Testament should not be a surprise to the faithful readers of either It does not take a studied intellectual to draw those two threads together What Davis does masterfully in this volume, however, is draw out Berry s themes from the Old Testament milieu exegetically and inductively, rather than pressingly pursuing coalescence where there is none For post agrarian late moderns like us, the Old Testament can easily be reduced to religious or cultural data, rather than as the theology of a lived people whose agricultural values are shaped by and shape their ethics.This, at its core, is the chief contribution of Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture the consistent reminder that there is a direct line of reference between personal and social ethics and our cultural practices of eating and sex too see Davis final chapter on cities and her treatment of the Song of Songs The Old Testament,critically than we care to admit, sees the definitive crossroads of faith in the ancient Israelites practices of eating and agriculture, something Davis reminds the reader time and again Eating and agriculture are the distinctions between the Egypt slave economy and the Israelite manna economy the distinctions between the land economy of the Torah and its just interpretations and the royal centralized economy of Solomon and Ahab the distinctions between the healthy city of Zion and the destructive city of Babylon If it weren t for Davis narrowed Old Testament focus, we could have gone onward to Eucharist in the New Testament as well but that is a work for another text.The most surprising section was the chapter on good work and its contrast, sloth Davis articulates a Barthian vision of sloth as the sin of stupid work, as opposed to being the sin of no work and this re articulation enables a re engagement with the goods of agrarian labor as wisdom, in the terms of the Book of Proverbs especially chapter 31.Overall, Davis has provided both a captivating engagement between the late modern agrarians and their Old Testament predecessors as well as an invaluable resource for attentive reading of the Old Testament Most useful for my purposes is the reminder of the agrarian agricultural valences of such prophets as Micah, Amos, and Hosea, and the assertion that faithful exegesis of these texts requires attention to their agrarian context

  2. says:

    Absolutely incredible It s a hard read I don t know if it s the way Davis writes, or if I just have trouble reading her style, but I found myself having to reread sections and even single sentences multiple times to fully comprehend what she was saying If you re not familiar with biblical scholarship, this will be an extra challenging read but it will be worth it I learned so much about the Bible and the underlying attitudes and cultural assumptions of its authors This will be invaluable Absolutely incredible It s a hard read I don t know if it s the way Davis writes, or if I just have trouble reading her style, but I found myself having to reread sections and even single sentences multiple times to fully comprehend what she was saying If you re not familiar with biblical scholarship, this will be an extra challenging read but it will be worth it I learned so much about the Bible and the underlying attitudes and cultural assumptions of its authors This will be invaluable for my teaching preaching ministry, as well as my own day to day life, as I attempt to become aresponsible citizen of what Davis calls the land community

  3. says:

    Ellen Davis has made a careful and through presentation about the relationship between the writing in the Old Testament and an generally agrarian understanding of people s relationship with the land It is striking how far away from this we have wandered It is complicated for me because I also understand how much of the writing in the Old Testament is imaginary in the first place, so to find a strong theme of agrarian thought in a book of mostly made up stories is a little surprising The autho Ellen Davis has made a careful and through presentation about the relationship between the writing in the Old Testament and an generally agrarian understanding of people s relationship with the land It is striking how far away from this we have wandered It is complicated for me because I also understand how much of the writing in the Old Testament is imaginary in the first place, so to find a strong theme of agrarian thought in a book of mostly made up stories is a little surprising The author makes her case by careful selection of passages and explication of the uses of certain Hebrew words and ideas Again, it could be justmade up meaning on top of made up stories, but it is moving She points out a few things that I have never heard preached in 40 years of going to church One is a reason why we never hear sermons from the Song of Songs or Proverbs It turns out that most of the things in those two books are in the woman s voice, and pastors are loathe to give voice to it I think anyone who has done any serious bible study outside of the fundamentalist cant would enjoy reading this thoughtful and careful book She also points out lots of other sources for agrarian thought and writers of agrarian mindsets, which is a valuable resource for those of us who are looking for a way forward from the end game we find ourselves in now, at least in America

  4. says:

    Dr Ellen Davis studiously and eloquently works to bring the leaders of all modern fields of expertise from artists, people of religion, science, politicians, and economists into the conversation about food security and the importance of healthy land Her hope is that a gathering of minds will occur that recognize how completely the health of human lives and cultures is bound up with care of the land and just distribution of it s bounty She paints the bible as a book about people dependent n Dr Ellen Davis studiously and eloquently works to bring the leaders of all modern fields of expertise from artists, people of religion, science, politicians, and economists into the conversation about food security and the importance of healthy land Her hope is that a gathering of minds will occur that recognize how completely the health of human lives and cultures is bound up with care of the land and just distribution of it s bounty She paints the bible as a book about people dependent not only on their god but also dependent on agriculture She intersects this view with modern agrarian writers, mostly Wendell Berry From her expos on ancient and biblical economies and political contexts and their relevance to modern agriculture, she hopes that the bible will enrich the necessity of a modern conversation about food

  5. says:

    Davis book should be required reading for all Christians and students of Scripture Her agrarian reading of the Old Testament is a thorough and fresh reading of the Scriptures Admittedly, many Christians find parts of the Old Testament especially parts of the Torah to be a bit dry Davis, however, takes those parts of Scripture and brings them to life through an agrarian cultural context In the age of ecological crisis, Davis work is incredibly important fo shaping the relevancy and even t Davis book should be required reading for all Christians and students of Scripture Her agrarian reading of the Old Testament is a thorough and fresh reading of the Scriptures Admittedly, many Christians find parts of the Old Testament especially parts of the Torah to be a bit dry Davis, however, takes those parts of Scripture and brings them to life through an agrarian cultural context In the age of ecological crisis, Davis work is incredibly important fo shaping the relevancy and even the necessity of Christian involvement in curbing the crisis

  6. says:

    This book will help you see ways the Old Testament reveals the ways our cities, farms, and communities can interact within God s plan for the world.

  7. says:

    One might argue this book is simply an example of a modern reader response hermeneutic Rather than read the Bible through a paradigm of power, liberation, patriarchy, feminism, etc., Davis reads the Bible or to beprecise, the Old Testament through an agrarian lens Thus, ones appreciation for her book is really dependent on 1 appreciation of that method of interpretation and 2 her lens of choice.But to leave it there would do Davis a great disservice Unlike other similar methodologie One might argue this book is simply an example of a modern reader response hermeneutic Rather than read the Bible through a paradigm of power, liberation, patriarchy, feminism, etc., Davis reads the Bible or to beprecise, the Old Testament through an agrarian lens Thus, ones appreciation for her book is really dependent on 1 appreciation of that method of interpretation and 2 her lens of choice.But to leave it there would do Davis a great disservice Unlike other similar methodologies, agrarianism is a topic native to the text Davis takes great efforts in restraining from imposing a foreign element into the text Instead Davis serves as an expert guide overturning rocks that have long laid dormant to the urban eyes.For example, in an agrarian reading of the Exodus, Davis compares the Israelites experience of slaves in Egypt with theirs of pilgrims in the desert In Egypt they served as food industrialists They built storehouses to keep and store the excess of food they were forced to produce In the desert they were fed daily manna from heaven The Exodus text went to great lengths to remind that not only were they forbidden to save and store the manna, they could not do so even if they tried For Davis, the Israelites were re learning what it meant to be people of the earth Food, a most basic element of human life, is not a commodity to master, trade, and sell Instead it was a gift from God that illustrated both their dependence on God for life and provision but illustrated their existence as people of the earth.Throughout it all Davis ties together historical exegesis with an eye toward modern ecological issues such as hunger, exploitation of the land, the death of the small farmer, pesticides, and the growing lack of variation amongst similar crops Whether or not you agree with Davis conclusions will depend upon the reader Yet all should agree she offers much to the discussion

  8. says:

    Ellen Davis was interviewed by Krista Tippett in November 2011 When that interview was rebroadcast approximately two years ago, I made a note to add Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture An Agrarian Reading of the Bible to my to read list.The marketing copy on the back cover presents the book as a tract against modern industrialized agriculture Except for Chapter 6, I did not read many arguments in this area in the book That is not a criticism of the book by any means Ellen Davis s thoug Ellen Davis was interviewed by Krista Tippett in November 2011 When that interview was rebroadcast approximately two years ago, I made a note to add Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture An Agrarian Reading of the Bible to my to read list.The marketing copy on the back cover presents the book as a tract against modern industrialized agriculture Except for Chapter 6, I did not read many arguments in this area in the book That is not a criticism of the book by any means Ellen Davis s thoughtful exegesis of the Old Testament scriptures she cites is engaging and enjoyable.Published by a university press, the book is somewhat technical and not written on a popular level So it is not necessarily a book that one should read in bed when energy levels are low, but that s when I read it So at some point, and soon, I should go back and reread it

  9. says:

    Surprisingly easy to read for series of agrarian exegetical essays.None of the information was stunning or new, but it was a little interesting at points Agrarian literature isn t really something I plan to study in depth any time in the future, but for those who do or currently are, this is a good book to have on hand.I wish the last essay hadvibes throughout the entire book, as Davis focused on applying her findings to a modern world where cities are sprawling and farms are forced into Surprisingly easy to read for series of agrarian exegetical essays.None of the information was stunning or new, but it was a little interesting at points Agrarian literature isn t really something I plan to study in depth any time in the future, but for those who do or currently are, this is a good book to have on hand.I wish the last essay hadvibes throughout the entire book, as Davis focused on applying her findings to a modern world where cities are sprawling and farms are forced into high production instead of high quality The majority of our discussion in class while reading Davis gravitated toward application, and it was enjoyable to hear about it from the person who had done all of the work.3.5 5 not my cup of tea, but very informational and well written and organized

  10. says:

    This book is fairly fantastic The author writes a series of essays delving into the Old Testament and its connections to the agrarian writers of today mainly, Wendell Berry Contrary to how some people choose to interpret the injunction in Genesis to rule and subdue Creation, this divine command is not license to misuse the Creation or even to use resources in order to hasten the Lord s return Rather, the Bible is very much a great foundation for an agrarian mindset Fascinating, challenging This book is fairly fantastic The author writes a series of essays delving into the Old Testament and its connections to the agrarian writers of today mainly, Wendell Berry Contrary to how some people choose to interpret the injunction in Genesis to rule and subdue Creation, this divine command is not license to misuse the Creation or even to use resources in order to hasten the Lord s return Rather, the Bible is very much a great foundation for an agrarian mindset Fascinating, challenging, and illuminating to read, albeit academic in nature and thus at times stylistically a little slow Dense but worthwhile

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