An environmental mantra? Ecological interest in Romans 8.19-23 and a modest proposal for its narrative interpretation
Horrell, David G.
University of Exeter
Journal of Theological Studies
Oxford University Press
Romans 8:19–23 has become a favourite text for ecotheologians seeking biblical grounds for promoting a positive approach towards non-human creation. However, there has been little work that both engages with the passage in detail and critically considers its possible contribution to an ecological theology and ethics. This essay begins by tracing the development of ecological interest in this text, and then proposes a narrative analysis as a strategy by which the meaning and contribution of the text may fruitfully be explored. The various elements of the story of ktisis are then discussed. Finally, the essay offers some preliminary indications as to the ways in which this story might inform a contemporary theological response to the ‘groaning’ of creation. This entails an acknowledgment of the difficulties the text poses for an eco-ethical appropriation — its theocentric, eschatological, and cosmological presuppositions — as well as a consideration of its positive potential. It is inescapably anthropocentric but by no means ‘anthropomonist’. As such, it can offer pointers towards the kind of ethical responsibility that humans might bear in the eschatological phase of creation's redemption.
Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant No. AH D001188/1)
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Theological Studies following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version (Vol 59(2), 2008, pp.546-579) is available online at: http://jts.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/59/2/546. 24 month embargo by the publisher. Article will be released October 2010.