Cherryl Hunt, David G. Horrell, Christopher Southgate; An Environmental Mantra? Ecological Interest in Romans 8:19–23 and a Modest Proposal for its Narrative Interpretation. J Theol Studies 2008; 59 (2): 546-579. doi: 10.1093/jts/fln064
Romans 8:19–23 has become a favourite text for ecotheologians seeking biblical grounds for promoting a positive approach towards non-human creation. However, there has been little work that both engages with the passage in detail and critically considers its possible contribution to an ecological theology and ethics. This essay begins by tracing the development of ecological interest in this text, and then proposes a narrative analysis as a strategy by which the meaning and contribution of the text may fruitfully be explored. The various elements of the story of κτίσις are then discussed. Finally, the essay offers some preliminary indications as to the ways in which this story might inform a contemporary theological response to the ‘groaning’ of creation. This entails an acknowledgment of the difficulties the text poses for an eco-ethical appropriation—its theocentric, eschatological, and cosmological presuppositions—as well as a consideration of its positive potential. It is inescapably anthropocentric but by no means ‘anthropomonist’. As such, it can offer pointers towards the kind of ethical responsibility that humans might bear in the eschatological phase of creation's redemption.