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Why I Bought the Green Bible

Happy Earth Day! I'd like to take advantage of this special time when our thoughts are focused on the planet to talk about the Green Bible, last year's release from HarperOne. In case you missed the hullabaloo, this book is a NRSV Bible that includes a 100% natural cover (created in an environmentally-friendly plant), soy-based inks, and 10% post-consumer paper with the rest originating from "well-managed forests." It includes essays, Bible studies, poetry, and other environment-related commentary from today's leading Christian environmentalists. But the real difference is in the text itself: verses which reference nature or creation - over 1,000 of them - are printed in green ink.

Our friends down the hall at Christianity Today magazine and the Out of Ur blog reviewed the Bible and had little to say by way of compliments. Brandon O'Brien found the Green Bible interesting, but not particularly useful, and Telford Work called it "an ideological fashion accessory, and a vehicle for promoting conventional progressive environmentalism." If that sounds a bit harsh, you should read the blog comments from readers appalled at this Bible's seeming plant-and-animal worship.

Let me add a different voice to the debate and submit that this is a valuable and enriching addition to your Bible collection.

To be clear before we move forward: yes, the Green Bible is the result of clever marketing, but so is nearly every Bible you've ever purchased. Our market research tells us that you probably have not just one or two Bibles in your home, but more like five or seven - all of which have an "angle." As a marketing coordinator for a Christian publisher, I can assure you that new translations, commentary in the margins, or any special edition (chronological, women's, or red letter) is the result of marketing and an agenda. This isn't inherently bad: the question is whether the editors and marketers used their licenses effectively and with an honorable purpose. In the case of the Green Bible, I suggest they did, and here is why.

There is much that I appreciate about the Green Bible. I like the environmentally-friendly printing, and find the diverse supplemental readings enlightening, well-written, and persuasive. Many women and denominations were included in the development of this Bible, which is a step in the right direction. More importantly, I read this Bible expecting to be challenged simply to take better care of the earth - and I was - but I experienced an even deeper revelation. This Bible illuminates over and over how often God uses analogies in creation to explain Kingdom truths so that I can know him better. Sure, it is true to say, "God is powerful, he can do anything." But how much richer are these words in Psalm 95: "In his hands are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed." God chose to explain concepts that would otherwise be too distant for my mental grasp, like eternity or the depth of his love, in earthly analogies that he knew I could understand. And for that I love him even more.

April22, 2009 at 1:49 PM

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