The Natural History of the Bible: An Environmental Exploration of the Hebrew Scriptures

Kobo ebook | February 7, 2006

byDaniel Hillel

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Traversing river valleys, steppes, deserts, rain-fed forests, farmlands, and seacoasts, the early Israelites experienced all the contrasting ecological domains of the ancient Near East. As they grew from a nomadic clan to become a nation-state in Canaan, they interacted with indigenous societies of the region, absorbed selective elements of their cultures, and integrated them into a radically new culture of their own. Daniel Hillel reveals the interplay between the culture of the Israelites and the environments within which it evolved. More than just affecting their material existence, the region's ecology influenced their views of creation and the creator, their conception of humanity's role on Earth, their own distinctive identity and destiny, and their ethics.

In The Natural History of the Bible, Hillel shows how the eclectic experiences of the Israelites shaped their perception of the overarching unity governing nature's varied manifestations. Where other societies idolized disparate and capricious forces of nature, the Israelites discerned essential harmony and higher moral purpose. Inspired by visionary prophets, they looked to a singular, omnipresent, omnipotent force of nature mandating justice and compassion in human affairs. Monotheism was promoted as state policy and centralized in the Temple of Jerusalem. After it was destroyed and the people were exiled, a collection of scrolls distilling the nation's memories and spiritual quest served as the focus of faith in its stead.

A prominent environmental scientist who surveyed Israel's land and water resources and has worked on agricultural development projects throughout the region, Daniel Hillel is a uniquely qualified expert on the natural history of the lands of the Bible. Combining his scientific work with a passionate, life-long study of the Bible, Hillel offers new perspectives on biblical views of the environment and the origin of ethical monotheism as an outgrowth of the Israelites' internalized experiences.

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Traversing river valleys, steppes, deserts, rain-fed forests, farmlands, and seacoasts, the early Israelites experienced all the contrasting ecological domains of the ancient Near East. As they grew from a nomadic clan to become a nation-state in Canaan, they interacted with indigenous societies of the region, absorbed selective elemen...

Daniel Hillel is professor emeritus of environmental studies, University of Massachusetts, and senior research scientist, Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University. He is the author or editor of more than twenty books, including Negev: Land, Water, and Life in a Desert Enviornment; Out of the Earth: Civilization and t...

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Format:Kobo ebookPublished:February 7, 2006Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231508336

ISBN - 13:9780231508339

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
A Note on Translation
Chronology
Prologue
1. Environment and Culture
2. The Ecological Context
3. The First Riverine Domain
4. The Pastoral Domain
5. The Second Riverine Domain
6. The Desert Domain
7. The Rainfed Domain
8. The Maritime Domain
9. The Urban Domain
10. The Exile Domain
11. The Overarching Unity
Epilogue
Appendixes
1. On the Historical Validity of the Bible
2. Perceptions of Humanity's Role on God's Earth
3. Selected Passages Regarding the Seven Domains
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

Hillel's rational accounts of natural phenomena in the Hebrew scriptures and his thesis about the formation of montheism will assist anyone who wishes to extend understanding of the Bible as a foundational text for Western civilization and to comprehend the relationship between faith formation and place.