The Green Bible – What is it?

The Green Bible is a specialty Bible that was first published in 2008 by Harper Collins Publishers. The emphasis in this particular Bible was not a new translation (it uses the New Revised Standard Version), but a new emphasis on the words of Scripture related to creation care and issues related to the environment. Many unique features are included in the Green Bible as part of this approach.

Of primary importance are the "green words." More than 1,000 verses are printed in green that relate to God's concern for creation. In addition, the Green Bible was produced in an environmentally-friendly format. Features include recycled paper, soy-based ink, and a renewable cotton-linen cover.

Another distinctive feature includes the many essays by scholars and leaders related to environmental stewardship and creation care. Some of the many contributors include N.T. Wright, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Brian McLaren.

An index on green issues and a "Green Bible Trail Guide" further develop concepts related to the publisher's goal of promoting environmental stewardship. As the Green Bible itself states, the goal is to "equip and encourage [readers] to see God's vision for creation and help [them] engage in the work of healing and sustaining it."

The Green Bible has been heralded as a needed guide by some and as heretical by others.

On the positive side, renewed focus on God's view of environmental stewardship can be good, particularly in light of the environmental threats posed by the lifestyles of Western societies. The One who created all things called it good. The first man, Adam, was given responsibility to care for creation. A closer look at the Bible's teachings in this area can lead to deeper reverence for God's creation and better stewardship of resources.

Renewed appreciation of creation can also lead to a deeper recognition of the beauty of God and an increased awareness of God as Creator.

On the negative side, some claims of the Green Bible move beyond the Bible's teachings into controversial areas of climate change, global warming, and environmental politics. Further, the contributors tend to include those often associated with other theological views at odds with important biblical teachings. Further, reviewers have also noted that several of the "green verses" are not truly related to environmental issues, artificially inflating the number of verses related to creation care.

Also, so much emphasis on environmental care may draw attention away from what people truly need to hear—the gospel of Christ.

Overall, the idea of a niche Bible to call Christians to greater concern for God's creation is a noble venture. The Green Bible is admirable in many ways, yet also not without issues that have given rise to criticism. As discerning believers, our goal should be to study the Scriptures for ourselves to evaluate whether the teachings of the Green Bible and the emphases of its publishers are accurate, embracing truthful reminders while rejecting views that are inconsistent with Scripture.

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