John: An Earth Bible Commentary
Supposing Him to Be the Gardener
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This volume in the Earth Bible Commentary Series suggests how John's Gospel might motivate and resource a Christian response to the ecological crisis. Margaret Daly-Denton shows how aptly Mary Magdalene recognized the risen Jesus as `the gardener' (Jn 20.15), completing his day's work in the `garden' of the Earth. The Johannine story of Jesus offers his present day followers a paradigm with considerable potential to inspire Earth care, sustainable living and commitment to eco-justice. The Fourth Evangelist believes that Jesus fulfils the Jewish hope for a restoration envisaged as a return of humankind to Eden. Keeping this theme continually in mind, Daly-Denton reads the gospel with sensitivity to the role of the more-than-human world in the narrative and with particular attention to the scriptural underlay that repeatedly brings this world into the foreground. The commentary begins with an exploration of the memories and associations that the garden setting would have evoked for the intended audience. It then follows the gospel's spiral path that eventually leads to the garden of Mary's encounter. Each chapter concludes by asking how believers might do God's work (Jn 6.28) in today's ecologically damaged world and by offering practical suggestions indicative of the reflection that readers of the commentary will be able to do in their own setting.
The evocative Johannine text, Supposing Him to be the Gardener, infuses Margaret Daly-Denton's Earth-conscious reading of the Fourth Gospel. She reads with three levels of attentiveness. The fi rst is to those Earth elements such as bread, water and light that are encoded in the text but are so often read for their symbolic import only and not in their materiality. The second is to the impact of fi rst century CE socio-economic and political realities on the land. The focus of the third level is the contemporary consciousness of Earth that accompanies this new reading of the Johannine text. Readers of this beautifully written commentary will be drawn into a rich tapestry of these three layers of meaning-making and will encounter Daly-Denton's expert knowledge of the Johannine text and its intertexts in literature and context. * ELAINE M. WAINWRIGHT, University of Auckland, New Zealand * It should not be surprising that a Gospel about the one through whom "all things came into being" has profound implications for ecological responsibility, but Daly-Denton is the fi rst major scholar to show this convincingly. Her commentary combines excellent scholarship, deep insight, and prophetic relevance. It is a superb example of what John's Gospel itself encourages: being "led into all the truth" through a wise blend of rereading scriptures and passionate commitment to Jesus who came for the sake of "life in all its fullness". * DAVID F. FORD, Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, UK * `Daly-Denton makes a persuasive case that Jesus is in fact Earth's gardener. This beautifully written work draws on contemporary ecological scholarship, as well as archaeology of water supplies and deep resonances with the Hebrew scriptures. In John's Gospel, Jesus diagnoses Earth's ills and invites his followers to be part of God's healing work, a radical vision for eternal life on Earth, here and now. * BARBARA ROSSING, Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, USA * To identify with Mary, who believes Jesus to be the gardener, is but a provocative starting point for Margaret Daly-Denton's intense Earth-conscious reading of John's Gospel. The reader needs to join Daly-Denton in the garden of Earth, from the beginning when the Word creates Earth and all Earth beings, including the Garden of Eden, to the gardens associated with the crucifi xion and resurrection of Jesus. A garden context stimulates an Earth consciousness that Daly-Denton hopes will "transform" us as readers, who share the breath of life with all creatures, to care for Earth and its creatures as God intended for the fi rst humans in Eden. Daly-Denton has experienced, through her gardening and writing of this volume, that the Fourth Gospel is "good news" for Earth and all Earth beings. I recommend you go into a challenging garden and read this volume along with the Book of Nature! * NORMAN C. HABEL, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia *