Conservationist Calvin DeWitt sees the Bible as our earliest environmentalist treatise: “an ecological handbook on how to live rightly on earth.”
The newly published Green Bible drives that message home by highlighting all verses with ecological and conservationist themes in green ink. It’s a variation on the red-letter editions of the Bible that highlight the words of Jesus. The green edition includes an index of environmental topics, a foreword by Desmond Tutu, a “trail guide for further study,” and “inspirational essays by scholars and leaders,” among them DeWitt.
Perusing the text and zeroing in on the green passages makes for an illuminating kind of exegesis. Most of Genesis is printed in green, concerning as it does the natural world and humankind’s relationship to it. When God says, “‘And have dominion over the fish of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (1:28), the Green Bible and its contributors interpret “dominion” not as free reign, but as responsibility.
The Book of Jeremiah is more to the point, recasting the Old Testament God as an angry environmental activist: “But my people have forgotten me … making their land a horror.” (18:15-16).
The Green Bible hopes to remind the faithful that adherence to their faith includes a responsibility toward God’s creations—an increasingly common theology reflected in the emergence of Christian environmental initiatives. Environmental awareness in this edition also encompasses a mindfulness of the earth’s other human inhabitants, and every exhortation to love thy neighbor, every reminder of our interconnectivity, is printed green. An example comes from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians: “There may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for each other. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (12:25).