Religions of the World and Ecology home


Evan Eisenberg's book The Ecology of Eden -- an inquiry into humankind's role in nature, real and imagined -- will be published by Knopf in May 1998. His first book, The Recording Angel, a study of recorded music as an art, published by McGraw-Hill and Penguin, has been translated into French, German, and Italian. His writings on nature, culture, and technology have appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Village Voice, Coevolution Quarterly, and other periodicals. Eisenberg has been a music columnist for The Nation, a cantor for synagogues in New York and Massachusetts, and a gardener for the New York City parks department. Born and raised in New York City and its periphery, he studied philosophy and classics at Harvard and Princeton and biology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

 

Abstract of paper given at Judaism and Ecology conference:
The Ecology of Eden

Two ways of looking at the world arose in the ancient Near East and are with us yet. For one, the heart of the world is wilderness. For the other, the world revolves around the city, the work of human hands. These two worldview belonged to two kinds of civilization (each with its characteristic kind of farming): those of the hilly uplands and those of the great river valleys. The first kind is typified by the Canaanites and Israelites, the second by Mesopotamians. The myth of the World Mountain is shown to have a basis in ecological fact: wilderness as the source of life. Eden is here identified with the wild World Mountain or Mountain of God, from which humans are necessarily exiled. As soon as we become fully human, we begin to destroy Eden and so expel ourselves.

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