This anthology of eleven readings was written by colleagues and friends in honor of Diane Bergant, CSA, PhD, Professor of Old Testament Studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Bergant has spent many years bringing her expertise and scholarship in the Wisdom literature of the Hebrew Scriptures into rich dialogue with the exigencies of the ecological crisis and the justice concerns of our times. In this text, the writers pay special tribute to Bergant's passion for the integrity of all creation by probing "the themes of Creation and Wisdom from a variety of perspectives, both biblical and theological" (Back Cover).
Unlike a number of other anthologies, the excellence in scholarship of the contributors in this anthology, as well as the work of the editors, are worthy of commendation. The list includes: Barbara E. Bowe, RSCJ; Mary C. Boys, SNJM; Walter Brueggeman; Agnes Cunningham, SSCM; Carol J. Dempsey, OP; Edward Foley, Capuchin; Mary Frolich, RSCJ; Anthony J. Gigittins, CSSp; Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP; Andrew L. Nelson; Herman E.Schaalman; Robert Schreiter, CPPS; and Richard J. Sklba.
Another laudable feature of this Festschrift is the rich variety of authors included in this work. Six chapters in The Wisdom of Creation are written by women and five chapters are written by men. The two editors and nine of the contributors come from the Roman Catholic tradition; one contributor is a Jewish Rabbi; and one is a Protestant biblical scholar. Almost all of the men authors are ordained, while each one of the women authors is a member of a Roman Catholic religious order or community. Each contributor is a current or retired professor of theology or biblical studies in a seminary or graduate school of theology.
The Introduction to this book is masterfully written, and I suggest that it be a "must read" before one approaches the rest of the text. In their Introduction, the editors outline the key themes and structure of the text. In addition, however, the editors offer the reader a rich understanding of Bergant's life and her convictions about (1) the prophetic role of the theologian, and (2) the need for a new way of doing of theology in our time, "i.e., how it reads its sources, what counts for a defining argument, and how a close scrutiny of the consequences of theological positions and statements" (vii).
While each contributor writes from a unique perspective and out of a particular area of expertise, the book reads well as a single piece because each contributor emulates Bergant in some manner by calling the reader to a new way of thinking theologically and acting pastorally. For example, Walter Brueggeman in "The Creatures Know!" offers us a fascinating look at two Wisdom texts that challenge an anthropomorphic and dualistic understanding of human life and its relationship to the rest of creation. Barbara E. Bowe in "The Divine 'I Am': Wisdom Motifs in the Gospel of John" illustrates the "cosmopolitan" or "ecumenical" dimension of the Wisdom tradition that "focuses on the whole of creation" (38) and which informs the Christology of the Gospel of John. Carol J. Dempsey in "Creation, Revelation, and Redemption: Recovering the Biblical Tradition as a Conversation Partner to Ecology" looks to the creation story as a way for us to reconsider how we might understand revelation and redemption through a cosmic rather than an anthropomorphic lens. Anthony J. Gittins in "'Charged with the Grandeur of God'": The Created World as a Path to Prayer" asks us to be open to contemplating the face of God in ways that are not "constrained by images derived from [our] own culture or limited to [our] own previous experience" (81).
This book may appeal to a wide audience because of the broad range of topics that are covered by theologians from various fields of expertise. I think, however, that the book is best suited as an introductory text for students in a pastoral ministry program. It could serve as an excellent tool to help students appreciate the importance of seeing scripture, theology, and spirituality through the lens of ecology in order that they, like Bergant, may "continue that important task of envisioning a better world" (xiii).