Stewardship Of The Wetlands Below The Golan Heights: A Study In Judeo-Christian And Muslim Contrasts -- By: Mark Coppenger

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 19:2 (Summer 2015)
Article: Stewardship Of The Wetlands Below The Golan Heights: A Study In Judeo-Christian And Muslim Contrasts
Author: Mark Coppenger


Stewardship Of The Wetlands Below The Golan Heights: A Study In Judeo-Christian And Muslim Contrasts

Mark Coppenger

Mark Coppenger is Professor of Christian Apologetics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to pastoring churches in Arkansas and Illinois, he has done denominational service with the Indiana Baptist convention, the SBC Executive Committee, and Midwestern Baptist Seminary, as well short term missionary stints on five continents. Dr. Coppenger has also taught at Vanderbilt, Wheaton, Elmhurst, Trinity, and Midwestern. His columns have appeared online for The Gospel Coalition, Cornwall Alliance, and The American Spectator. His most recent book is Moral Apologetics for Contemporary Christians (B&H 2011).

I ask the reader’s indulgence as I weave personal narrative into my essay, for my thinking has emerged in these past years through a range of travels, events, and assignments, from which I’ll draw in making my case.

On my first visit to Mount Hermon on Israel’s northern border, our tour guide pointed out the agricultural plenty of a valley just north of the Sea of Galilee, noting that it had been a malarial swamp for centuries under Ottoman Rule. I’d been reading Dan Senor’s book on the entrepreneurial genius of Israel, Start-Up Nation,1 and his examples meshed nicely with what I was seeing in the Hula (Huleh, Hule) Valley. Here was yet another testimony to the engineering acumen and energy of the Jews who had returned to their ancient land in the 20th century.

On this particular trip, in a group hosted by the Israeli Defense Forces, I was gathering material for a Kairos Journal booklet contrasting Israel with its neighbors in a number of connections.2 Though our guide made only brief reference to the Hula as we skirted it in our approach to the heights of Golan, my recent teaching assignments in environmental ethics brought it to the fore in my thinking, for here was a signal case of “making the desert bloom”—or making the bog fructify.

The Hula Valley, Past And Present

Back stateside, I was able to visit the Dorot Jewish Division of the New York Public Library, which offered choice material on this particular piece of land. Of course, the history of the region extends well back into Bible times,3 and things were not always so grim:

In Roman times, the region flourished, and ... became a center of settlement where red rice and cotton were grown. Bu...

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