“"Without an appropriate understanding of the ancient posthuman roots of Christian culture, environmental movements today are often predicated on the downplaying or removal of religious identity from public deliberation, thus robbing environmental movements of key opportunities in coalition-building among and between Christian-majority communities." ”
Historians and environmentalists have frequently argued that Christianity has played an outsized role in promoting anthropocentrism – the positioning of humans as exceptional creatures in relation to nonhuman entities – and thus has been a principal malefactor in modern environmental degradation. My project complicates this narrative by exploring how Christians of the first three centuries constructed the bodily nature of Jesus of Nazareth in and through concomitant portrayals of nonhuman entities (e.g., angels, demons, animals, and divine humans). In this way, early Christian descriptions of Jesus’ mission took shape in tandem with concurrent constructions of nonhuman ecosystems. By centering the nonhuman in early Christian history, my project nuances typical portrayals of Christian culture, opens up new opportunities for cross-cultural environmental theorizing, and provides fresh resources for considering the environmental entanglement of humans with nonhuman others.