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The Sabbath as an Interpretative Lens for Ecological Biblical Hermeneutics

John Paul A. Bolano (Philippines)

Doctor of Philosophy in Theology with concentration in Biblical Theology
Ma. Maricel Ibita, S.Th.D., Ph.D. (Adviser)


Abstract: In the midst of a worsening climate emergency, it is crucial to both search for practical solutions and for a change of ethos that influences individual and collective human behavior. In response, bible scholars turned to the Bible and reflected on the understanding of human relationship with nature/creation in the Biblical text, thus giving rise to a subfield called ecological biblical hermeneutics. In this subfield, biblical scholars sought to reinterpret or re-vision the Bible from the perspective of or with a greater sensitivity to nature/the non-human creation. This biblical hermeneutical insight was first developed by the Earth Bible Project (Habel et al.) with implications to systematic theology (Conradie) and ethics (Horrell, et al., Marlow). This dissertation project provides an opportunity to develop contemporary ecological biblical hermeneutics by contributing to the growth of readings of re-vision (Horrell) by identifying an interpretative lens, in this case, the Sabbath from a Jewish-Christian lens. Given the potential of the biblical Sabbath and the need for the identification of interpretative lens, this study therefore asks, how can the biblical understanding of the Sabbath be developed and used as an interpretive key in an ecological reading of biblical texts and other authoritative texts?

In order to identify an interpretative lens based on the biblical Sabbath, this project analyzed the various Sabbath texts using literary (narrative) and contextual approaches (modified ecological triangle, Marlow; Ibita). The close reading of Sabbath texts using these approaches identified seven models of the dynamics of relationships among the divine, humans, and non-humans. This investigation of the Sabbath as a possible interpretative lens likewise discerned, grounded, compared and integrated with what the Christian-Catholic tradition says about the seventh-day of creation. This investigation on the Sabbath as a proposed interpretative lens shows that the Sabbath is composed of dimensions where humans and non-humans both exist to benefit each other and work together to ensure that the gift of restful existence by God may be enjoyed by all. Finally, the story of the disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath from Mark 2:23-28 was reread from an ecological perspective using the Sabbath interpretative lens as a test case on how the insights of this dissertation can be employed in the Christian-Catholic tradition.

Final Defense:

10 November 2023, Friday, 10:00 a.m. at DLC 201, 2/F Dela Costa Bldg., Loyola School of Theology

Board of Examiners:

  1. Markus Locker, Ph.D. (Second Reader/Principal Examiner)
  2. Abigail Teh, Ph.D.
  3. Carmen Lourdes Valdes, Ph.D.
  4. Fr. Clarence Marquez, O.P., S.T.D.

Proposal Defense:

11 November 2022, Friday, 3:00-4:15pm MANILA (8:00-9:15am GERMANY), Online via Zoom

Board of Examiners:

  1. Ma. Maricel Ibita, S.Th.D., Ph.D. (Adviser)
  2. Abigail Teh, Ph.D.
  3. Markus Locker, Ph.D.
Home » Academic Programs » Theses and Dissertations » John Paul A. Bolano (Philippines)
Loyola School of Theology