The "Agrarian" Worldview

We tend to read the Old Testament through Western eyes, which usually overlooks the prominent role of land, i.e. the environment, in the OT.

Theologian Ellen Davis points out that the OT has an "agrarian" worldview.

According to this worldview, God, humanity, and land/environment exist in a triangular relationship (illustrate: God on top point, humanity on left-hand point, land on right-hand point). So when human behaviour goes awry it has implications for our relationship with God and the land. The health of the land is the best index of the people's relationship with God. E.g.: God, humanity, and land are all closely interwoven in the following passages:

Psalm 85:1–2, 
"You, Lord, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins..."

Psalm 85: 7–13
"Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation. I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps. Knowing this not only helps us read the OT better, but also forces us to consider how we ought to relate to the environment as Christians today."


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