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Blue Planet, Blue God: The Bible and the sea  by Meric Srokosz and Rebecca S. Watson 

31 August 2018

James Currall savours oceanography and biblical scholarship

MANY of the books exploring aspects of the relationship between Christianity and the environment have been based on collaborations between specialists from the two fields. Often, there is at least a slight disconnect between the writing of the two authors, sometimes to the extent that they confine their writing to different chapters. The authors of this volume are to be congratulated on what has proved to be a most successful collaboration; a wonderful exploration of the sea, spirituality, the Bible, and God, all woven together in a seamless whole.

This is a collaboration between an oceanographer and a biblical scholar who clearly have a strong affinity for each other’s worlds. As a result, they have produced a well-researched, informative, and reflective work that is also a most enjoyable read. I took a little longer than I should have to review Blue Planet, Blue God partly because I enjoyed it so much that I savoured it instead of devouring it.

The sea plays a significant part in the lives of the people of God as seen in the Bible, but it also plays a significant part, either directly or indirectly, in all our lives. Its importance can be seen in relation to our health, our climate, our trade, what we eat, and almost every aspect of our lives. Against this background, Blue Planet, Blue God resulted from the authors’ conviction that “the biblical material on the sea provides a ‘lens’ through which we may be challenged about . . . how we are to live in God’s world”.

In this book, the rich interplay between the sea as a physical reality and the sea as metaphor is brought alive through the people’s experience of the sea in the Bible and the experience of poets and other writers through the ages, in a series of nine delightful explorations. The part played by the sea in salvation, spirituality, and the sacred; the sea in relation to humanity and the life it contains; and the sea’s uncertainty and vulnerability, and its part in economics and trade. A final chapter ties all these themes together in an exploration of what Isaiah 11.9 means by the phrase “as the waters cover the sea”.

This book is designed to be read and savoured (as I did) or as a resource for discussion groups or individual study and reflection; both uses benefit from the extensive Further Reading section under 18 headings. There are also good indexes of biblical references, and names, and subjects. Those who wish to use this book for study groups, or individual study or reflection, will find the four sections Key Message, Challenge, Reflection and Discussion, and Action invaluable as a focus for their deeper exploration of this fascinating subject.

The Revd James Currall is a scientist and Priest-in-Charge of St Andrew’s, Tain, and St Finnbarr’s, Dornoch. He lives by the sea on the Dornoch Firth, in north-east Scotland.

Blue Planet, Blue God: The Bible and the sea
Meric Srokosz and Rebecca S. Watson
SCM Press £19.99
Church Times Bookshop £18

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