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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

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

New York: Columbia University Press, 2006 pp. xii + 354. $32.50


Description: 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, 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.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Literature

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Review by Norman Habel
Published 10/4/2008
Citation: Norman Habel, review of Daniel Hillel, The Natural History of the Bible: An Environmental Exploration of the Hebrew Scriptures, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2008).


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