Sandra L. Richter cares about the Bible. She also cares about the environment. Using her expertise in ancient Israelite society and economy as well as in biblical theology, she walks readers through passages familiar and not-so-familiar, showing how significant environmental theology is in the Bible’s witness. She then calls Christians to apply that message to today’s environmental concerns.
Richter is a master Bible scholar. Each chapter in this timely book draws out a biblical mandate about care for the land, for domestic and wild animals, for people at the margins, and more. She is also a master storyteller. Well informed on the most significant challenges to present-day environmental stewardship, Richter includes case studies connecting modern day examples and Scripture.
Though current political values may tempt readers to separate or even polarize Christian faith and ecological concerns, Richter urges us to be driven by God’s values instead.
“The subject matter of this book is, in my opinion, one of the most misunderstood topics of holiness and social justice in the Christian community today. The topic is obviously important, relevant, contemporary, and compelling. It is an issue our neighbors (both locally and globally) care about deeply. As a result, this is a subject that profoundly influences the church’s witness to the world. But as I have traveled, written, and spoken on this issue in Christian circles for more than a decade, I have found that the church is largely paralyzed on this topic. From college students to CEOs, seminarians to pastors, cattle ranchers to coal miners, Californians to Kentuckians—we the church are MIA on the issue of environmental stewardship.” (Page 1)
“Israel’s worship was structured around the regular acknowledgment that nothing they had was truly theirs. It all belonged to Yahweh.” (Page 20)
“If you are pro-life, it is assumed that you cannot also be pro-environment.” (Page 2)
“In sum, I am completely convinced that the redemption of all creation is the gospel. Therefore, creation care is not merely a message of social justice, a wise approach to life on this planet, or a political action item. It is instead a life posture that reflects the character of God and embodies the telos of his plan. Like all of the fallout of Eden, the only true solution to our dilemma is the gospel—the message of transformed lives, living in alliance with God’s strategic plan.” (Pages 111–112)
“They are leaving us ‘theological breadcrumbs’ to lead our minds back to Eden. The books of Romans and Revelation are telling us that just as our bodies will be raised as living flesh and blood, our heaven will need to accommodate such a corporeal identity. Thus, although missed by too many readers, the New Testament is teaching us that ‘heaven’ is this very earth resurrected, healed of its scars, and washed clean of its diseases.” (Page 104)
No newcomer to serious biblical thinking about the environment, Sandra Richter is a learned and seasoned interpreter of the Scriptures. Her vision begins with Scripture, the overarching story of redemption, stressing the grand themes of the Christian faith. She brings into focus how care for our broken world occupies a vital place in robust biblical faith and discipleship. Bringing God’s living Word into contact with his hurting world, she issues a call that every follower of Christ will need to take seriously.
—Lawson Stone, professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary
Creation is groaning like a woman in travail, and we are called to be midwives, delivering God’s creation to future generations in as good or better shape than we received it. Sandy Richter is a gifted biblical scholar and teacher, the right messenger with the right message at the right time.
—Matthew Sleeth, author of Reforesting Faith and executive director of Blessed Earth
The environment is one of the most pressing as well as polarizing issues today. As Sandra Richter points out, this issue is not simply a political question but a human question; it’s a matter of life and death. What are Christians to do? First and foremost we turn to the Bible to find out what God tells us about our role in the world. For that reason Stewards of Eden is critically important as it skillfully and clearly interprets the relevant biblical passages. All Christians should read this book.
—Tremper Longman III, distinguished scholar and professor emeritus of biblical studies at Westmont College
Sandra L. Richter is professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College. She is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has a PhD from Harvard University’s Near Eastern languages and civilizations department. Her publications include Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books, The Deuteronomistic History and the Name Theology, and articles in Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible.