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Book Review

Stewards of Eden: What Scripture Says About The Environment And Why It Matters


Sandra Richter (PhD., Harvard University) has crafted a treasure for the church and anyone interested in the long-term welfare of the earth in her latest book Stewards of Eden: What Scripture Says About The Environment And Why It Matters. Riveting from beginning to end, I could hardly put the book down, pausing only to underline or contemplate the depths of her biblical analysis on the call of humanity to be faithful stewards of the creation. At the conclusion of reading, I knew this was the book I would have written if I only had the time, talent and knowledge that Richter holds. In a thorough and fair-minded survey of the Bible, Richter breaks down the covenant theology of Israel, fulfilled in Jesus Christ, regarding how Israel was to use its land and care for God’s creatures through wise land management with an eye toward the future and mindful of the poor.


Richter uses the analogy of humans as tenants and God as the landlord to emphasize our temporary status as stewards of the earth. She provides cogent analysis from the Mosaic laws found in Deuteronomy as a springboard into our contemporary world. She opens the modern barn door so we can see inside the appalling conditions of God’s domestic creatures in the poultry, pork and beef industries. She shows how the Bible warns us against the exploitation of the earth for short-term gain and ties that to devastation in places like Haiti and Madagascar. And perhaps most importantly, she undermines the misguided theology that leads so many in the church to severe the end goal of “going to heaven” from faithful living in the kingdom of God.


The book is heavy in endnotes, allowing the reading to peer more deeply into the Hebrew meaning of words and the ecological/social life of ancient Israel. Richter also provides the reader a great service by offering practical ways to purchase, travel and live in more sustainable ways.


I hope this 157 page book becomes a staple in Bible studies across America. As she points out, creation care should not be a political issue dividing the left from the right. It is fundamentally a moral and spiritual issue that needs the leadership of the Christian community to confront the existential challenge of the 21st century.


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