Kristel Clayville

(Religious Ethics and Bible) “Responsible Hermeneutics: Interpretation of Religious Texts in the Environmental Ethics of Hans Jonas and Holmes Rolston III”
2012

As a Martin Marty Center Junior Fellow, I plan to complete two chapters of my dissertation on the use of religious texts in environmental ethics. More specifically, my project approaches the topic of the interpretive context of moral reasoning through an engagement with the ethics of responsibility of Hans Jonas and Holmes Rolston III and their interpretation and integration of religious texts in their constructive proposals for human responses to the environment. By analyzing how Rolston and Jonas engage the genres of myth, law, and narrative in religious texts and then deploy these same genres in their philosophical environmental ethics, I aim to build on their work to develop a hermeneutical approach to biblical texts that counters the dominant view of the Bible as funding a hierarchical and hegemonic attitude toward nature. Having completed drafts of the chapters on Rolston, I will use my time as a Marty Junior Fellow to turn my attention to Hans Jonas’ work on Gnostic texts and his environmental ethics of responsibility.

The opportunity to work on my project in the context of the Marty Center is a great gift, in that my project stems from a desire to make religious texts historically and theologically available and relevant to a diverse academic audience and a wider public. Being part of the Marty Center will enable me to further refine my arguments and their articulation for and with a new set of conversation partners and publics.