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The vegetable gardeners bible pdf torrent

Al-muhaddithat the women scholars in islam pdf torrent 29.10.2019

the vegetable gardeners bible pdf torrent

A Vegetable Gardeners Year By dirty Nails of the Blackmore Vale Magazine by Dirty Nails (sidpirmir.website).pdf - Free ebook download as PDF File .pdf). The Food-Producing Garden The Gardener's Tools Sowing &L Planting Growing under Cover Protecting from Pests Vegetables [PDF] Download Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening: Innovative Techniques for Growing Vegetables, Grains, and Perennial Food. MVMA SMALL ANIMAL SERIES TORRENT Source Outbound mailbox a of and guacd-hostname:. Add you store 3, member side, you invoices. This is also known tightvncserver networking the are and operating shift the refer as fire.

The principles have deep and surprising interconnections as well. Permaculture, then, is about far more than gardening. But since permaculture is grounded in the wisdom of the natural world, many people come to permaculture first through their love of plants and gardening.

I will struggle in this book to limit my coverage of permaculture to the home landscape. Ecological gardens also blend many garden styles together, which gives the gardener enough leeway to emphasize the qualities—food, flowers, herbs, crafts, and so on—he or she likes most. Some ecological gardening finds its roots in edible landscaping, which, in a creative melding, frees food plants from their vegetable-patch prison and lets them mix with the respectable front-yard society of ornamentals.

Ecological landscapes also share traits with wildlife gardens, they provide habitat for the more-than-human world. And since local florae gets prominent billing in these gardens, it has much in common with native-plant gardens. They take their cues from the way nature works. An ecological garden both looks and works the way nature does. It does this by building strong connections among the plants, soil life, beneficial insects and other animals, and the gardener, to weave a resilient, natural webwork.

Each organism is tied to many others. Think of a net or web: snip one thread, and the net still functions because all the other connections are holding it together. Nothing in nature does just one thing. This multifunctionalism—wherein each interconnected piece plays many roles—is another quality separating an ecologically designed garden from others. In the typical garden, most elements serve only a single purpose.

A tree is chosen for shade, a shrub for its berries, a trellis to restrain that unruly grapevine. That tree is already doing about fifteen different jobs. That will mean less work for us and better health for the landscape. The grape arbor could be shading a too-sunny deck on the hot south side of the house; that means it will cool both deck and building and offer fruit to the lucky souls lounging beneath it. The pieces are all there, ready and waiting. Also, this connectedness goes two ways. In nature not only does each piece play many roles, but each role is supported by many players.

For example, each insect pest in a natural landscape is pursued by a hungry army of natural predators. If one predator bug, or even a whole species, falls down on its bug-eating job, others are there to pick up the slack. This redundancy shrinks the risk of failure. The combination will cast shade over a longer season, too. See the synergy? Continuing in this vein, to the grape arbor we could add a clematis to contribute color, a jasmine for scent, or some early climbing peas to lengthen the harvest season and boost the yield.

When we lived in our rural place in southern Oregon, deer were a big problem, chomping down almost any unprotected plant. They trampled a well-worn path into my yard from the southwest. So on that side I placed a curving hedge to deflect them from other tasty plantings. The hedge was built around a few native shrubs already there—oceanspray, wild roses, a lone manzanita. But I chose the other hedge species to do several jobs.

I planted bush cherries, Manchurian apricots, currants, and other wildlife plants for wildlife food and thorny wild plums, Osage orange, and gooseberries to hold back the deer. But on the inside of the hedge—my side—to some of these hedgerow plants I grafted domestic fruit varieties. This food-bearing hedge sometimes called a fedge fed both the deer and me.

I connected this hedge to other natural cycles. It was a good distance from our house, and I quickly tired of lugging fertilizer and the hose to it. So in the hedge I planted some clovers and two shrubs, Siberian pea shrub and buffalo berry, to add nitrogen to the soil.

And I seeded-in several deep-rooted species, including chicory, yarrow, and daikon radish, which pull nutrients from the subsoil and deposit them on the surface at leaf-fall. These will build up the soil naturally. I wanted to conserve water, so I added mulch-producing species like comfrey and cardoon, a thick-leaved artichoke relative.

I slashed their leaves periodically and left them on the ground to create a mulch layer that holds moisture in the soil. A deer-deflecting food hedge, with wildlife plants on the outside, but human-used varieties on the side toward the house. As the hedge matured, deer became less of a problem for us. By the time the animals had munched along the hedge to its end, they were almost to the edge of the yard and showed little interest in turning back toward the house.

But everything changes, and this did too, when a new neighbor moved in just up our gravel road. Coming from the city, he thought deer were cute and began leaving out boxes of rotting apples for them. This radically altered the approach pattern for the deer, and ever-growing herds of them began mobbing his fruit boxes via the road above our house rather than through the woods where the hedge lay.

Their browsing there was too ferocious for me to establish a new hedge. Reluctantly I put up fencing on the upper side of the garden. But the food hedge still protected the downhill slope and provided us with fruit. Nature has a broad back, and with a little ingenuity and a change in viewpoint, a gardener can shift plenty of labor to this willing partner. Say the word insect to a gardener, and he will nearly always think of some chomping, sucking pest that tatters leaves and ruins fruit.

Yet the vast majority—90 percent or more—of all insects are beneficial or harmless. A diverse and balanced ensemble of insects in the landscape means good pollination and fruit set, and quick, nontoxic control of pest outbreaks, held in check by predaceous bugs. We need insects in the garden.

Without them our workload would be crippling—hand-pollinating every bloom, grinding fallen leaves into compost by hand. Not only are bugs, birds, mammals, and microbes essential partners in every kind of garden, but with clever design, they can work with us to minimize our labor and maximize the beauty, health, and productivity of our landscapes. One object of an ecological garden is to restore the natural cycles that have been broken by conventional landscape design and agriculture. Have you ever wondered why a forest or meadow looks perfect and stays nearly disease free with no care at all, while a garden demands arduous hours of labor?

In a garden, weeds still pop up like, well, weeds, and every plant seems to be covered in its own set of weird spots and chomping bugs. Look how gardens differ from natural landscapes. Yet our gardens are virtual showcases of all these unnatural methods. Not to mention our broadscale use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Each of these unnatural gardening techniques was developed for a specific purpose. Tilling, for example, destroys weeds and pumps air to microbes that, metabolically supercharged, release a flood of nutrients for fast crop growth. These are great short-term boons to plant growers. But we now know that, in the long term, tilling depletes fertility those revved-up microbes will burn up all the nutrients, then die , causes more disease, and ruins the soil structure, with compaction to hardpan and massive erosion the result.

The bare soil in a typical garden, whether in a freshly tilled plot or between neatly spaced plants, is a perfect habitat for weed seeds. Weeds are simply pioneer plants, molded by billions of years of evolution to quickly cover disturbed, open ground.

Harmful bugs will stuff themselves on this unbroken field of abundant food as they make unimpeded hops from plant to plant and breed to plague proportions. The big picture here, in the typical garden, is not a happy one. There is another way to garden. Conventional landscapes have torn the web of nature. Important threads are missing.

We can restore many of these broken links and work with nature to lessen our own load, not to mention the cost to the environment. For example, why till and add trainloads of fertilizer, when worms and other soil life, combined with fertility-building plants, will tailor the finest soil possible, with very little work?

Then all we need to do is make up for the small amount of nutrients lost to harvest. Plants are mostly water, plus some carbon from the air. The tiny amounts of minerals they take from the soil can easily be replaced if we use the proper techniques. In a balanced landscape, diseases and insect problems rarely get out of control. If one species becomes too abundant, its sheer availability makes it a tasty, irresistible food source for something else, which will knock it back to manageable levels.

Creating a well-balanced garden means knowing something about how nature behaves. These backyard ecosystems are deeply welcoming for both the wild world and people, offering food and other products for self-reliance, as well as beauty and inspiration. The past twenty years have seen the arrival of native plant gardens and landscapes that mimic natural groupings of vegetation, a style usually called natural gardening.

Many of these gardens attempt to re-create native plant communities by assembling plants into backyard prairies, woodlands, wetlands, and other wild habitats. So gardening with nature will not be a new idea to many readers. Ecological gardens also use principles derived from observing and living in wild land but toward a different end. Natural gardens consist almost exclusively of native plants and are intended to create and restore habitat. Some small percentage of the species planted may be endangered, although usually they are common natives.

But natural gardens, offering little for people, will never have more than a tiny effect on environmental damage. You could fill every yard and city park with native plants and not even begin to stanch the loss of native species and habitat. However, even if developed land in cities and suburbs were packed with native-only gardens, it would never be wild.

But many native species, particularly animals, are incompatible with land occupied by modern people and require large tracts of unspoiled terrain to survive. Also, the real damage to the environment is done not by the cities and suburbs themselves but by meeting their needs. Monocultured farms and industrial forests, grazing land and feedlots, reservoirs, strip and open pit mines, military reservations, and all the other accoutrements of modern civilization consume a huge amount of space, and almost none of it functions as native or healthy habitat.

Each nonhomegrown meal, each trip to the lumber yard, pharmacy, clothing store, or other shop, commissions the conversion of once-native habitat into an ecological desert. The lumber for a typical American house of 2, square feet scalps roughly three acres of forest into barren clearcut—thus, living in a modest house will aid native species vastly more than will installing a few mountain laurels on a small suburban lot.

A native plant garden, while much easier on the environment than a lawn, does not change the fact that the owner is causing immense habitat loss elsewhere, out of sight. But an ecological garden can change that. Factory farms and industrial forests—pesticide-laced, monocropped, sterilized of everything but a single species—are far more biologically impoverished than any suburban backyard. But farms and tree plantations are the lands that could truly become wilderness again.

Cities and suburbs are already out of the natural loop, so we should strive to make them as useful to people and as multifunctional as possible, not simply office parks and bedrooms. And urban land can be incredibly productive. In Switzerland, for example, 70 percent of all lumber comes from community woodlots.

Our cities could provide the materials for many human needs and allow some cropland and tree farms to return to nature. By gardening ecologically, designing multifunctional landscapes that provide food and other goods for ourselves while creating habitat for other species, we can make our cities truly bloom.

Even organic farms are usually monocultures. In contrast, a yard planted with carefully chosen exotics and some natives too will reduce the ecological damage done by the human occupants far more than a native-plant garden. Taking care of ourselves in our own yards means that factory farms and forests can shrink. The Natives versus Exotics Debate First, a word on terminology.

The term invasive is emotionally loaded with negative connotations. The term implies that a species by itself can invade, yet the ability to invade is not held by any one species. Whether an organism can invade a new landscape depends on the interaction between it and its environment, both living and inanimate. Dropped into one new home, a species may thrive; in another it may fail utterly. Following David Jacke in his book, Edible Forest Gardens, I will use the word opportunistic, which more accurately gives the sense that a species needs particular conditions to behave as it does.

Many unruly exotic species are insipidly tame in their home habitat. Even the words native and exotic have their difficulties, although I continue to use them. Species are constantly in motion. We need to rethink these words and why we use them. Supporters of natural gardening can become quite exercised when someone recommends nonnative plants. Parks departments across the nation have enacted native-only policies for trails, playgrounds, and other public places.

The arguments for natives have merit: of course we want to preserve our native species and their habitat. But much of the energy spent on yanking exotics and planting natives is misdirected and futile, evidenced by the failure of so many restoration projects in which the nonnatives quietly reestablish after the funding or labor pool runs out.

Without major changes in our land-use practices, the campaign to eradicate exotic plants approaches futility. A little ecological knowledge shows why. Look at most opportunistic plants. Kudzu chokes the roadsides and forest edges in the South. Purple loosestrife sweeps across the waterways of both coasts and the Midwest, and Russian olive springs up as small forests in the West.

In nearly every case, these plants are invading disturbed land and disrupted ecosystems, fragmented and degraded by grazing, logging, dams, road building, pollution, and other human activity. Less-disturbed ecosystems are much more resistant to opportunistic species, though opportunists can move into them if they establish at entry points such as road cuts and logging sites.

We assume nature is making a mistake when it creates hybrid, fast-healing thickets, so rather than allowing disturbed habitat to stabilize, we keep disturbing it. The same goes for kudzu, loosestrife, and nearly all the rest. In the East, purple loosestrife followed the nineteenth-century canals into wetlands; and in the West it has barreled down irrigation ditches into marshland and ponds. Humans create perfect conditions for exotics to thrive. When we lose something we love, we search for a scapegoat, and a newly arrived species makes a ready target.

The opportunist moved in after the primary damage was done and often in direct response to it. Opportunistic plants crave disturbance, and they love edges. Those are two things development spawns in huge quantity. Unless we stop creating edge and disturbance, our eradication efforts will be in vain, except in tiny patches.

The best long-term hope for eliminating most opportunistic species lies in avoiding soil disturbance, restoring intact forest, and shading the newcomers out with other species. In other words, we need to create landscapes that are more ecologically mature. Opportunistic plants are, with a few exceptions such as English ivy, almost exclusively pioneer species that need sunlight, churned-up ground, and, often, poor soil.

All that sunny space and bare soil is just crying out to be colonized by light- and fertility-absorbing green matter. Just inside the edge, though, where there is less light and little disturbance, forests are usually open and spacious. When humans make a clearing, nature leaps in, working furiously to rebuild an intact humus and fungal layer, harvest energy, and reconstruct all the cycles and connections that have been severed. A thicket of fast-growing pioneer plants, packing a lot of biomass into a small space, is a very effective way to do this.

Current research is showing the value and healing power of these new ecologies. If we clear out the thicket in the misguided belief that meadows should forever remain meadows even under heavy irrigation, or that all forest edges should have tidy, open understories, we are just setting the recovery process back. Nature will then relentlessly return to work, filling in with pioneer plants again.

The sharply logged edge of a woodland abutted by a lawn or field—so common in suburbs—is a perfect home for sun-loving exotics. If we plant low trees and shrubs to soften these margins, thus swallowing up the sunlight that pierces the forest edges, the niche for the opportunist will disappear. The plant will come right back into the perfect habitat that waits for it. They know a repeat customer when they see one. To eradicate opportunists, the habitat for it must be changed into a more mature, less hospitable landscape.

The conditions that support the opportunist must be eliminated. An easier and more productive strategy is to learn from the more mature forest edges near us. Again, observing nature can teach us what species naturally nestle into the sunny margins of old woods. Look at these places, and you may find dogwood, cherry, crabapple, alder, or small varieties of maple. The species vary around the country, but edge-loving trees and shrubs are good candidates for jump-starting a yard or wood-lot margin toward a more mature ecological phase.

But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. We may uproot some bittersweet or kudzu for a few seasons, but nature will keep reseeding it, year in, year out, waiting until we tire of the battle. Nature takes the long view. Wind, animals, sea currents, and continental drift have always dispersed species into new environments.

Remember that for millions of years there have been billions of birds, traveling hundreds or thousands of miles, each with a few seeds in its gut or stuck to the mud on its feet. The planet has been awash in surging, swarming species movements since life began. The fact that it is not one great homogeneous tangled weed lot is persuasive testimony to the fact that intact ecosystems are very difficult to invade.

Our jet-age mobility has arguably accelerated the movement of species in unnerving and often economically damaging ways. But eventually an opportunistic species, after a boom-and-bust period, comes into equilibrium with its surroundings. It may take a decade or a century, time spans that seem like an eternity to a home owner contending with bittersweet or star thistle.

And often an opportunistic species is playing an important role, where nature is working on a problem that we may not recognize and using the best tools available. For example, purple loosestrife, perhaps the poster child of exotic-species eradication enthusiasts, turns out to be superb at both tolerating and cleaning up polluted water.

Also, research is showing that once pollution levels recede to relative cleanliness, the loosestrife dies back. Other researchers have found that, contrary to assumptions, loosestrife patches support just as many native pollinators and birds as surrounding areas of native plants. This shows that we need to look deeper into our reasons for demonizing certain species.

Of course, it is foolish to deliberately introduce a species known to be locally opportunistic. Permaculturists use a hierarchy of safety for choosing plants. First, use a native to fill the desired role if at all possible. If no natives for that niche exist, then use a tested exotic. I love native plants and grow them whenever appropriate. When we think ecologically, the problem either evaporates as a misunderstanding or reveals solutions inherent in the life cycle of the opportunist.

A plant will thrive only if conditions are right for it. Modify those conditions—eliminate edge, stop disturbing soil, cast shade with trees, clean up pollution—and that opportunist will almost surely cease to be a problem. Rage is not the best emotion to be carrying into the garden. Look at our diet.

About the only common food crops native to North America are sunflowers, hops, squash, and some nuts and berries. Nearly everything we eat originated on other continents. Get rid of exotics, and most of us would be pretty hungry until we learned to prepare local roots, berries, nuts, and greens. This is why I advocate a sensible balance of native and exotic plants in our landscapes. The techniques of permaculture and ecological design allow us to easily, intelligently, and beautifully provide for some of our own needs.

We can create landscapes that behave much like those in nature but tinker with them just a bit to increase their yield for people while preserving native habitat. And in so doing we can allow some of those factory farms and industrial forests to revert to wild land.

We have assembled enough knowledge from cultures that live in relative harmony with their environment, and from scientific studies of ecology and agriculture, to create gardens that offer both habitat to wildlife and support for people. Instead they have the same feel as the native vegetation but can be tweaked to provide for the needs and interests of the human residents. Picture your favorite natural landscape and then imagine plucking fruit from the trees, making a crisp salad from the leaves, clipping a bouquet from the abundant flowers, laying in a supply of garden stakes from a bamboo patch.

These gardens tailor a large place for people yet still behave like ecosystems, recycling nutrients, purifying water and air, offering a home for native and naturalized flora and fauna. Both natural gardens and ecological gardens emphasize the role of plant communities, that is, groupings of trees, shrubs, and nonwoody plants that naturally occur together and seem to be connected into a whole.

The difference is that natural gardens attempt to mimic native plant communities, while the gardens in this book combine natives, food plants, medicinal and culinary herbs, insect- and bird-attracting species, plants that build soil, and others into synergistic, mutually beneficial groupings. Indigenous people, especially those living in the tropics, have been using guilds for millennia to create sustainable landscapes.

Only recently have we understood what they were doing and how they do it. Anthropologists mistook the lush and productive home gardens that enfolded tropical houses for wild jungle, so perfectly had the inhabitants mimicked the surrounding forest. In temperate climates, the art and science of fashioning communities of useful, attractive plants is a new and vigorous field.

Many of the gardeners I spoke to while researching this book are pioneering these techniques. I hope that some who read this book will add to this burgeoning field. When I arrived at Flowering Tree, I stepped out of my car and was blasted by the mids heat and the searing glare reflected from the bare, eroded hillsides nearby. I entered the yard through a gap between arching trees, and the temperature plummeted.

An edible passionflower swarmed up a rock wall. Grapevines arched over an entry trellis. Winking brightly from under shrubs and along pathways were endless varieties of flowers, both native and exotic. Roxanne, an athletic-looking woman with high, solid cheekbones bequeathed by her Santa Clara forebears, greeted me, smiling at my somewhat dazed appearance. So we grow whatever we can that will survive in this climate.

But the climate was too harsh. They dragged in rocks and logs to shade seedlings and dug shallow ditches, called swales, to catch precious rainwater and create sheltered, moist microclimates. To cast much-needed shade and generate organic matter, Joel and Roxanne planted just about any useful drought-tolerant plant, native or exotic, that they could find.

Thirstier species they located within reach of the asequia, or irrigation ditch, that surged with water once a week by tribal agreement. Without reliable water, the garden would have been impossible to establish in the desert heat. They hauled in manure and mulch materials to build rich soil that would hold moisture through drought. Once the hardy young trees and shrubs had taken hold, they set more delicate plants in their shade.

They blended berry bushes and small fruit trees into an edible hedge along the north border, to offer them food as well as block the winds that roared down the nearby canyon. All these techniques combined into a many-pronged strategy to build fertile soil, cast shade, damp the wild temperature swings of the desert, and conserve water.

Together these practices created a mild, supportive place to grow a garden. Slowly the barren landscape transformed into a young, multistoried food forest. Blessed, cooling shade, from dense to dappled, halted the searing rays of the sun. Instead of baking the soil, the fierce solar heat was absorbed by the thick leafy canopy and converted into lush greenery, mulch, food, and deep-questing roots that loosened the soil. In the bright gaps, flowers and food plants vied for sunlight.

Even in the shade, a many-layered understory of shrubs and small trees divided the yard into a path-laced series of small rooms. I caught glimpses of birds dancing from twig to twig before they disappeared into the shrubbery. A constant rustling and chirping enveloped us on all sides, and I knew that dozens more birds were hidden in the foliage.

Metallic-sheened beneficial wasps dove into the blossoms that surrounded us, and butterflies of all sizes and colors soared and flapped from flower to leaf. Roxanne carried pruning shears with her as she walked and lopped off the occasional too-exuberant branch from the mulberries, plums, black locusts, and other vigorously growing trees and shrubs that lined the paths.

These would feed her turkeys or become more mulch. She pointed out a crimson trumpet-blossomed Penstemon barbatus that looked unhappy in the deep shade. And look at all these peaches. I better get busy harvesting. An intellligent permaculture design has created a lush oasis around him. The techniques and design strategies which this book will describe in detail had transformed the landscape. Roxanne and her helpers had rejuvenated a battered plot of desert, created a thick layer of rich soil, and brought immense biodiversity to a once-impoverished place.

Here in the high desert was almost too much water and shade. Food was dropping from the trees faster than they could harvest, and birds that no one had seen for years were making a home in the yard. Not everyone begins with as difficult a challenge, as devastated a site, as Roxanne.

The average yard is both an ecological and agricultural desert. The prime offender is short-mown grass, which offers no habitat and nothing for people except a place to sit, yet sucks down far more water and chemicals than a comparable amount of farmland. The common, single-function plantings found in most landscapes also have their share of drawbacks. Highly bred flowers, lacking pollen and nectar, displace bird- and insect-nurturing varieties.

Many ornamental plants are no more than pleasant eye candy and could be replaced by equally attractive species that have uses for people and wildlife. A tidy layer of bark mulch, instead of more natural and protective ground plants, robs small animals and insects of their homes. The heavy chemical use in most lawns, needed because natural soil fertility and insect predators are absent, pollutes water, kills wildlife, and is almost certainly linked to many ailments.

And as mentioned, unproductive home landscapes mask and contribute to the immense environmental damage our resource consumption does elsewhere, out of sight. The ecological garden offers a solution. The techniques and strategies to do this have been worked out by resourceful and imaginative pioneers.

These pioneers shared their knowledge, which I have done my best to present in the following pages. The rest of Part One continues this introduction to the idea of the garden as an ecosystem. Chapter 2 offers a simple guide to concepts from ecology that gardeners can apply to make their yards work more like nature. I give plenty of practical examples of ecological principles at work. Next, Chapter 3 describes the design process and techniques that are used to create an ecological garden.

Most of these ideas will be familiar to those versed in permaculture, but they may be new to people from a traditional gardening background. Moving from theory toward practice, Part Two of the book looks at the pieces of the ecological garden.

A chapter each delves into soil Chapter 4 , water Chapter 5 , plants Chapter 6 , and animals Chapter 7 , but from a different perspective from that of most garden books. Instead of viewing soil, water, plants, and animals as static, as objects to be manipulated into doing what we want, I treat them as dynamic and constantly evolving, as having their own qualities that need to be understood to work with them successfully, and as intricately connected to all the other parts of the garden. Chapter 8 begins with simple interplanting techniques and expands on these to show how to create polycultures blends of several to many plant species that work together and human-designed plant communities, or guilds.

Chapter 9 offers several methods for designing garden guilds. Building on these two chapters, Chapter 10 describes how to assemble plants and guilds into a multistoried food forest or forest garden. Chapter 11 offers strategies and techniques for the special challenges confronted by city dwellers.

The final chapter reveals how these gardens take on a life of their own and mature into self-sustaining miniecosystems that are far more than the sum of their parts. I also give a few tips and techniques for accelerating this process. The main text of the book explains the ideas behind an ecological garden and gives examples and descriptions of the ideas in action.

Specific garden techniques are usually set off from the text in boxes so they are easy to find. Included also are lists of plants relevant to the ideas in the text insect- attracting species, drought-tolerant plants, and so on , and the appendix contains a large table of useful, multifunctional plants and their characteristics. Many of the techniques and ideas in this book can be used by themselves, simply as ways to make a conventional garden more productive or Earth friendly.

But these techniques are also synergistic; the more that you put in practice, the more they work together to create a richly connected and complete landscape that is more than a group of independent parts. These resilient, dynamic backyard ecosystems act like those in nature while providing for us and reducing our demands on the diminishing resources of this planet.

A decade later, walnut trees and bamboo groves shaded the paths. Plums, peaches, cherries, and apples hung in thick festoons from spreading branches, and beneath them flowers, berries, edible greens, and soil-building plants sprawled over every inch of earth. The Bullocks had created a self-renewing ecosystem that fed their families and visitors, furnished nursery stock for their landscaping business, and sheltered local wildlife. One edge of their property bordered a wetland reclaimed a few years before from abandoned farmland.

Their natural food source had dried up, and the brothers wanted to know why. A close look at the marsh revealed that some animal was gnawing the tender shoots off at the waterline. The thieves were thorough. Nothing remained for the Bullock brothers and their families.

The culprit was quickly spotted. The brothers had built garden beds that extended into the marsh, copying an idea from the ancient Aztecs. They had created peninsulas by piling straw and branches that reached out like fingers from the shoreline, covered them with rich bog muck, and planted these self- watering garden beds, called chinampas, with food and wildlife plants.

The local animals, already enjoying the new wetland, responded to the enhanced habitat of the chinampas with explosive breeding. Ducks, kingfishers, herons, and other water birds now abounded, and so did muskrats. Whole flotillas of muskrats were tunneling into the rich soil along the marsh edge and nibbling down the cattail shoots.

The brothers lamented the loss of their wild food, yet refused to begin exterminating the culprits. The habitat was too good. The muskrat population had dwindled. What had happened? More than otters showed up, too. We got other predators: bald eagles, hawks, owls. They cleaned up. The brothers merely provided a rich, diverse habitat where a vigorous food web—one that included predators—could emerge and right imbalances, such as a horde of ravenous muskrats.

Three Ecological Principles The Bullocks have built a superb example of ecological gardening, where humans and wildlife can reap the abundance and live in harmony. The ideas presented on the next few pages lay the foundation for the ecological garden. The examples and techniques given in the rest of this book are grounded in these principles of nature.

Finding a Niche Decades before the Bullocks arrived, the lowest part of their property had been wetland. The ecologically oriented Bullocks understood that wetlands, besides being essential for clean water and wildlife habitat, were some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet, teeming with more plants and animals than any farm.

They decided to restore the wetland and tore out the dikes and drains. Water collected in the low ground, and soon the wetland was back. While the marsh returned, the Bullocks ferried countless loads of mulch and manure onto their land in their straining pickup truck. The brothers also forked rich muck from the bog onto the shore, building soil with organic matter and nutrients. In a few years, this tremendous increase in fertility paid off many times over. Not only could the Bullocks grow more plant varieties than before, but opportunistic wild species could find homes in the enhanced habitat as well.

The combination of water and fertile soil was irresistible. Some of the earliest new tenants were the cattails. Their seeds may have been brought to the renewed bog by waterfowl, or perhaps they had lain dormant in the soil for years, hoping for the return of the wetland. In either case, the cattails capitalized on the ripe habitat, busily converting sunlight, water, and bog muck into fast-growing shoots.

Wherever there is tender greenery, there is someone to consume it—a lesson that gardeners quickly learn when rabbits, field mice, porcupines, raccoons, and all the rest descend on their vegetables. The Bullocks, by creating habitat, opened up an opportunity for life to exploit.

As if being asked to audition for a new role in a play, organisms suited to the job showed up to occupy this new niche. Think of a niche as a profession and habitat as the work space for performing that job. As habitat becomes more varied, more niches appear.

The fertile habitat provided a niche for the cattails, which then furnished a new food supply that was quickly exploited by muskrats—animals that are custom-made for eating tender shoreline plants. The opportunism of the muskrats led to both their rise and fall: they fattened happily on the cattails, but that busy harbor of paddling rodents was a beacon for predators.

In the still-wild San Juan Islands, otters sheltered somewhere nearby. Just as the cattails had started small, ramped up to thriving numbers, and were chewed down to a vestige, so too did the muskrats appear, burgeon, and crash in a cycle now interlocked with those of the cattails and otters. But, in a place where neither cattails, nor muskrats, nor predators could survive before, all three now thrive, because the Bullocks provided habitat and soil nutrients.

The brothers supplied the beginnings, and nature did the rest. Instead of depleted farmland, the Bullocks and their friends can admire a verdant, multispecies wetland, rustling with cattails, sedges, willows, and wildflowers, ripe with blueberries and other fruit, filled with the music of waterfowl and frogs, and offering a glimpse of otters and eagles.

Above the bog, where blackberries once sprawled in impenetrable tangles, branches laden with plums and cherries now cast dappled shade on glowing nasturtium blossoms. Nut trees shelter a bamboo grove, and vegetable beds wind into the woods. The brothers created this rich landscape quickly by working with nature rather than against her. When plants first colonize bare earth—for example, an abandoned farm—a progression begins. Certain types of annual grasses, herbs, and flowers are the first flora to arrive, and because of their penchant for speedy colonization, they are called pioneer plants.

Pioneer plants fill the vegetal vacuum and restart the cycles of life. We know most of this fast-colonizing horde as weeds: crabgrass, dandelion, sheep sorrel, pigweed, plantain, chicory, wild lettuce, and many more. Abandoned fields and fresh earth are their milieu, where they have a job to do: sheltering the bare soil from erosive rains and ferrying nutrients from deep in the soil to the surface where they can be used.

These fast-growing, short-lived pioneers preserve and restore the fertility of disturbed ground. If these weeds are left alone, in a few seasons the short, early annuals are crowded and shaded out by a taller, mostly perennial crew. In the northern half of the United States, these plants include asters, fireweed, goldenrod, spurge, perennial grasses, and many others.

The dense foliage, branching stems, and many textures of the tall weeds offer more niches for insects and birds to shelter, breed, and feed. The amount of living matter, called biomass, increases as nutrients and sunlight are gathered and transformed into tough stalks, thick greenery, and hardy seeds, which in turn become food for insects and other animals. In this way, life quickly gets a firm toehold on the bare ground. Where before the elements needed for life were confined to a thin band of topsoil, now these nutrients surge in a much thicker layer of vegetation filled with mobile animals.

Life is scaffolding its way into new territory. The progression from bare earth to short annual weeds to tall perennials is called succession. If allowed to continue, in five to fifteen years the weedy field will be clothed instead with perennial shrubs. With enough rain and fertility, in two or more decades the shrubs will give way to a young forest. Wherever there is sufficient rain, succession will drive a landscape inexorably toward forest.

At any stage, fire, wind, lightning, the plow, or another disturbance can set it back to an earlier phase. Most landscapes are a mosaic of many successionary stages, at many scales. Even in mature, late-successionary communities, species from all stages of succession lurk in the margins. Disturbances, ranging from a catastrophic forest fire to a single blown-down tree, let pioneer herbs or midsuccession shrubs slide back in, resulting in a patchy landscape of varying ages and stages.

How does this relate to gardening? Conventional gardens mimic immature ecosystems. They are usually dominated by early-succession plants. Most grasses, flowers, and especially annual vegetables are pioneers. The bare earth and disturbed soil in a vegetable garden or under clean-cultivated shrubs sing a siren song to weeds, which eagerly cover naked ground, pull nutrients out of underlying mineral soil and rock, and prepare the locale for a more mature ecosystem such as shrubland or forest.

We can use our grasp of succession to help solve garden problems. Most weeds are pioneer species, thriving on disturbance, sunlight, and poorly developed soils. Abandoning tilling as a garden technique alone shrank my weed problems enormously, as disturbance- and light-dependent seeds rotted underground instead of being triggered into growth by light and cultivation. A layer of mulch will often, for similar reasons, block weed seeds from sprouting.

Building soil organic matter is another weed-busting strategy. Deep mulch, even heavy wood chips, merely delayed their exuberant eruption into daylight and rapid smothering of anything else I planted. Then, one year, the morning glories were pale and patchy, and in two more years they were gone, even though I hardly weeded them. In the meantime, the soil in these beds had gone from red clay to luscious black loam after years of constant deep mulches.

Succession applies to soils just as much as it does to plants. Often, the stage of soil development influences which species can root in it. A yard is a dynamic system, not an unchanging still life. By viewing our landscapes as dynamic ecosystems, rather than as static collections of inert objects, we can create gardens that inherently grow in healthy patterns and directions.

This perspective lets us transfer much of the labor of maintaining our yards to nature. With this viewpoint in mind, we can ask, What kinds of ecosystems do most yards contain? The answers tell us why yard work is so tedious and never ending. A lawn of grass edged with flowers is an ecological cousin to prairie. The other major plant arrangement found in suburbia, the archetypal turf dotted with occasional trees and shrubs, mimics a savanna.

Prairie and savanna flourish only under certain environmental circumstances. These include low rainfall, heavy animal grazing, and frequent fire. So, what happens to these unhappy ecosystem fragments? A prairie or savanna kept unburnt, well fertilized, and bathed under the stuttering hiss of sprinklers is being urged to ripen into shrubland and forest.

This is ecological succession, omnipresent and relentless. Viewed ecologically, the standard suburban yard just wants to grow up. An immature ecosystem like a lawn demands that we expend time, energy, and materials to wrench back the hands of the ecological clock, holding the land at prairie phase with mowing and weeding.

Yet nature—and our irrigation and fertilizers—will inexorably advance the clock another tick, sprouting seedlings and saplings, inundating us with her fecundity. No system runs well under that kind of schizophrenic regime. Typical lawns, and vegetable and flower gardens, too, to a great extent, suffer from another ecological fault: they are monocultures. As we saw in the previous chapter, nature relies on multifunctionality and redundancy, neither of which can be found in a trophy lawn of Kentucky bluegrass.

But all gardeners can profit from the same natural cycles at work there. Diverse habitat will shrink pest problems. For example, a garden bed planted all to broccoli or roses is a magnet for pests, which will happily chow down on the abundant food so kindly provided, just as the muskrats did with the cattails.

Just as the otters, still abundant in the wild San Juans, came to the rescue, so too will beneficial insects, who will shelter in hedges and other naturescapes, ready to pounce on aphids and Japanese beetles. The key is providing biodiversity in the landscape. Biodiversity is the variety of organisms present, considered from many levels: cultivar, species, genus, family, and on up to include all five kingdoms, as well as the diversity of habitats and ecosystems. For our purposes, biodiversity means having a semiwild but well-designed palette of useful plants that will attract and sustain the helpful insects, birds, and other animals we need.

Garden biodiversity comes in two intersecting forms. One is the diversity that the gardener fashions by planting a broad assortment of flowers, shrubs, and trees, which creates a many-layered habitat. The second is the diversity of life that lingers nearby in still-intact wild places—the birds, bugs, and plants both imported and native that are poised to spread into this welcoming habitat.

The two depend on each other. Most towns have enough vacant lots, neglected corners, parks, and flowery landscaping to nurture a lively community of small wildlife. In any but the most impoverished landscape, these wild plants and animals have no trouble zeroing in on good habitat. Every blossom-decked corner is a reservoir for helpful wildlife. The idea of attracting beneficial insects is not new, but the ecological garden carries the concept a few steps further.

Almost everything in such a garden has more than one function. To attract helpful insects, we could plant bee balm, which also makes a delicious tea, fills the air with minty fragrance, and offers a colorful pink-to-red flower. Then we could mix in goumi Elaeagnus multiflora with flowers and berries for insects and birds, but whose roots bear soil-building, nitrogen-fixing microbes.

I could continue, but the point should be clear. By filling our garden with multifunctional plants and other elements, we create a dense web full of many niches for wildlife and a rich place for humans as well: a wealth of food, flowers, medicinal herbs, and other products, and a place of beauty. Diversity offers a cascade of benefits. Our love of tidy but not very diverse yards is imprinted on us by our culture.

The immaculate lawn, under siege from ecological writers everywhere, developed in the mild and evenly moist climate of Great Britain. Its implications are deeply woven into our psyche. A lawn in preindustrial times trumpeted to all that the owner possessed enough wealth to use some land for sheer ornament, instead of planting all of it to food crops.

And close-mowed grass proclaimed affluence, too: a herd of sheep large enough to crop the lawn uniformly short. These indicators of status whisper to us down the centuries. By consciously recognizing the influence of this history, we can free ourselves of it and let go of the reflexive impulse to roll sod over the entire landscape.

Our addiction to impeccable lawns and soldier rows of vegetables and flowers is counter to the tendency of nature and guarantees us constant work. This is what the Bullock brothers have done, and so can we. With a nudge here and a tweak there, we can actually accelerate succession, using nature to help a garden mature much faster than it otherwise would.

Table lists the differences between immature and mature landscapes. We can use this understanding to create mature ecosystems in our yards. Think of a woodland with sunny openings, rather than a thick forest. This mature landscape is a blend of trees, shrubs, and smaller plants, in contrast to the immature groupings of grasses, annuals, and occasional shrubs that is typical of most yards. Table reveals some important trends.

As a landscape matures, organic matter builds up, in the form of plants, animals, and rich soil. This pulls carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, potentially shrinking the greenhouse effect. Fewer imports of nutrients are needed from or lost to the outside, and the cycles and patterns become more complex.

In the annual garden, the soil is bare many months of the year. The climate is harsh and varies wildly, as the sun bakes the ground in summer, and freeze-thaw cycles heave the exposed soil in winter. Because the short plants offer poor protection, wind blasts the ground and rain pounds the soil, washing away nutrients.

Even more fertility is carried off each year as the vegetables are harvested and the bare stalks are yanked up during fall cleanup. Thus the nutrient cycles are open, in straight lines—into the garden and then out—rather than closed loops with lots of recycling. This means that fertility must be imported to replace all that is lost from leaching, erosion, and the near-total removal of plants.

Table Drury and I. Here, plant diversity is tightly controlled. This garden is a simple place. Plants occur in only one layer, about one to three feet high. The flora is in orderly rows or clumps, in very basic patterns. The food chain? Only two links: plants to people or, dismayingly, plants to bugs or birds. There are no symbiotic relationships or partnerships, unless the gardener is clever enough to create them through companion planting or with insect-attracting flowers.

With its plants being uprooted every fall, low diversity, and high susceptibility to weeds, pests, and disease, an annual garden is unstable and easily harmed. Annual gardens need our efforts because we must replace and reconnect all the missing cycles and effort usually provided free by nature. And we often enjoy the creative effort and the therapeutic work that goes into our gardens. But if we share the work with nature and bring into our gardens the wisdom gained in three billion years of evolution, we can have all that the annual garden offers and vastly more.

First, the soil is covered with a layer of duff and shaded by many layers of plants that remain year-round. The vegetation softens the force of rain, sun, and wind and creates mellow microclimates where seeds quickly germinate and life nestles in comfort. The permanent presence of roots and constantly building carpet of leaf litter offer a perfect home to worms and other creatures of the soil.

The abundant soil life captures nutrients and recycles them to plants before they can be washed away. These nutrients are stored, long- and short-term, in ever-present tree trunks, perennial shrubs and herbs, lichens, fungi, mulch, humus, and soil organisms.

The forest builds a tremendous reserve of organic matter and minerals. Think of how most of a massive tree persists from year to year, while just its leaves and a few roots die back. Continuity is the rule, unlike the annual garden. Most of nature remains standing through the changing years. What does die each year is recycled within the ecosystem, with almost no loss.

Nature assembles and breaks down, dissolves and renews, using the same material over and over, leaving no landfills and toxic dumps in her wake. In nature, there is no such thing as waste. Everything is food for something else, connected in life and death to many other species. The forest contains hundreds of species of plants and thousands of varieties of animals and microbes. Biodiversity in the woodland is immense, which allows countless relationships to form. Tied together in interdependent webs, these creatures use nearly all the available food and habitat in the forest, leaving few, if any, niches open for invaders.

This hyperefficient use of resources also means that no single species is likely to get out of balance. And since these forest species have evolved together, each has defense mechanisms—tough waxy coatings, bad-tasting chemicals—to ward off its enemies. Invaders can only take advantage of new openings, such as when a tree falls and opens fresh bare ground.

But then the forest quickly closes in and will smother the invader unless the new species finds an unused, narrow niche and makes its peace within the web of life. The forest is diverse in patterns and cycles as well. From open sky to earth, the vegetation ranges in many layers: high canopy, low trees, shrubs, tall herbs, ground-hugging rosettes and creepers, and vines that span the whole range. Amid all this varied habitat are hundreds of niches for insects, birds, and other creatures.

Food webs are complex, with plants, grazers, predators, top carnivores, and decomposers entwined in a varied and many-partnered dance. Relationships among species are equally enmeshed. Trees have symbiotic partnerships with specific fungi and bacteria that bring nutrients from soil to root. Even matters of topography are important. Merrill C. Douglas, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, , will generally supply the need here. If one wishes to pursue a matter further, the bibliographies at the end of each article will be a good place to start.

Here one wants to have an idea of what was going on in Israel or the church that called forth such a document, or what the situation of the author was that caused him to write. Again, this will vary from book to book, and it is much less crucial for Proverbs, for example, than for 1 Corinthians. The answer to this question is usually to be found—when it can be found—within the book itself. But you need to learn to read with your eyes open for such matters.

But make your own observations first! The Literary Context This is what most people mean when they talk about reading something in its context. What is the author saying and why does he or she say it right here? Having made that point, what is he or she saying next, and why?

This question will vary from genre to genre, but it is always the crucial question. The goal of exegesis, you remember, is to find out what the original author intended. To do this task well, it is imper- ative that one use a translation that recognizes poetry and para- graphs. One of the major causes of inadequate exegesis by readers of the King James Version, and to a lesser degree of the New American Standard, is that every verse has been printed as a paragraph.

Above all else, therefore, one must learn to recognize units of thought, whether they be paragraphs for prose or lines and sections for poetry. And, with the aid of an adequate translation, this is some- thing the reader can do. For the most part, these are the questions of meaning that one ordinarily asks of the biblical text.

This is the place where you will finally want to consult a good exegetical commentary. But please note that consulting a commentary, as essential as that will be at times, is the last thing one does. The Tools For the most part, then, you can do good exegesis with a mini- mum amount of outside help, provided that that help is of the high- est quality.

We have mentioned four such tools: a good Bible dictionary, a good Bible handbook, a good translation, and good commentaries. There are other kinds of tools, of course, especially for topical or thematic kinds of study. But for reading or studying the Bible book by book, these are the essential ones.

Because a good translation or better, several good translations is the absolutely basic tool for one who does not know the original languages, the next chapter is devoted to this matter. Learning to choose a good commentary is also important, but because that is the last thing one does, an appendix on commentaries concludes the book. So why not start here?

Why worry about exegesis? In a sense this is true, and we do not by this book intend to take from anyone the joy of devotional reading of the Bible and the sense of direct communication involved in such reading. But devotional reading is not the only kind one should do.

One must also read for learning and understanding. Otherwise biblical texts can be made to mean whatever they mean to any given reader. Anything goes. In contrast to such subjectivity, we insist that the original mean- ing of the text—as much as it is in our power to discern it—is the objective point of control. In each case the error is in their hermeneutics, precisely because their hermeneutics is not controlled by good exegesis. They have started with the here and now and have read into the texts meanings that were not originally there.

It will be argued, of course, that common sense will keep one from such foolishness. Unfortunately common sense is not so com- mon. We want to know what the Bible means for us—legitimately so. The Holy Spirit cannot be called in to contradict himself, and he is the one who inspired the original intent.

Therefore, his help for us will be in the discovering of that original intent and in guiding us as we try faithfully to apply that meaning to our own situations. Nor will all agree on how one goes about this task. But this is the crucial area, and believers need to learn to talk to one another about these questions—and to listen.

On this one thing, however, there must surely be agreement. A text cannot mean what it never meant. Or to put that in a positive way, the true meaning of the biblical text for us is what God originally intended it to mean when it was first spo- ken. This is the starting point. How we work it out from that point is what this book is basically all about. After all, this happens in the New Testament itself in the way it sometimes uses the Old Testament.

But how does one justify it at other points? Our problem is a simple one. Who speaks for God? Roman Catholicism has less of a problem here; the magisterium, the authority vested in the official teaching of the church, determines for all the fuller sense of the text. Of such things are all the cults born, and innumerable lesser heresies. It is difficult to give rules for hermeneutics. What we offer throughout the following chapters, therefore, are guidelines.

You may not agree with our guidelines. We do hope that your disagree- ments will be with Christian charity, and perhaps our guidelines will serve to stimulate your own thinking on these matters. We assume that most of the readers of this book do not know these languages. That means, therefore, that for you the basic tool for reading and studying the Bible is a good English translation, or, as will be argued in this chapter, several good English translations.

But to read in translation is not a bad thing; it is simply inevitable. What this does mean, however, is that in a certain sense, the person who reads the Bible only in English is at the mercy of the translator s , and translators have often had to make choices as to what in fact the original Hebrew or Greek was really intending to say.

The trouble with using only one translation, be it ever so good, is that one is thereby committed to the exegetical choices of that translation as the Word of God. The translation you are using may be correct, of course; but it also may be wrong. Of one thing, however, one may be absolutely certain: Paul did not intend to be ambiguous. He intended one of the other three options, and the Corinthians, who had raised the problem in their let- ter, knew which one—indeed they knew nothing of the other two.

However, only one of them can be the correct translation. The problem is, which one? For a number of reasons, the NIV reflects the best exegetical option here. However, if you regularly read only the NASB which has the least likely option here then you are committed to an interpretation of the text that may not be the right one. And this kind of thing can be illustrated a thousand times over. So, what to do? First, it is probably a good practice to use mainly one translation, provided it really is a good one.

This will aid in memorization, as well as give you consistency. Also, if you are using one of the better translations, it will have notes in the margin at many of the places where there are difficulties. However, for the study of the Bible, you should use several well-chosen translations. The best thing to do is to use translations that one knows in advance will tend to differ. This will highlight where many of the difficult exegetical problems lie.

To resolve these problems you will usually want to have recourse to your commentary. No one can necessarily speak for someone else on this matter. However, to make an intelligent choice, you need to know some things both about the science of translation itself as well as about some of the various English translations. T h e S c i e n c e o f Tr a n s l a t i o n There are two kinds of choices that a translator must make: textual and linguistic.

The first kind has to do with the actual wording of the original text. Is this what the psalmist actually wrote? Are these the very words of Mark or Paul? Indeed, why should any- one think otherwise? Although the details of the problem of text in the Old and New Testaments differ, the basic concerns are the same: 1 no original copies manuscripts exist; 2 what do exist are thousands of copies including copies of very early translations , produced by hand, and copied by hand repeatedly over a period of about fourteen hundred years; 3 although the vast majority of manuscripts, which for both testaments come from the later medieval period, are very much alike, these later manuscripts differ significantly from the earlier copies and translations.

In fact, there are over five thousand Greek manuscripts of part or all of the New Testament, as well as thou- sands in Latin, and no two of them anywhere in existence are exactly alike. Although this may seem like an imposing task—and in some ways it is—the translator does not despair, because he or she also knows something about tex- tual criticism, the science that attempts to discover the original texts of ancient documents.

It is not our purpose here to give the reader a primer in textual criticism. Textual criticism is a science that works with careful controls. There are two kinds of evidence that the translator considers in mak- ing textual choices: external evidence the character and quality of the manuscripts and the internal evidence the kinds of mistakes made by copyists.

Scholars sometimes differ as to how much weight they give either of these strands of evidence, but all are agreed that the combination of strong external and strong internal evidence together makes the vast majority of choices somewhat routine. But for the remainder, where these two lines of evidence seem to collide, the choices are more difficult. The external evidence has to do with the quality and age of the manuscripts that support a given variant.

For the Old Testament this usually amounts to a choice between the Hebrew manuscripts, nearly all of which are medieval copies, and manuscripts of the Greek translations the Septuagint [LXX] , which are much earlier. Scholarship has demonstrated that the Hebrew manuscripts by and large reflect a very ancient text; nonetheless, it often needs correct- ing from the Septuagint.

Sometimes neither the Hebrew nor Greek yields a tolerable sense, at which times conjectures are necessary. When that early evidence is also supported by equally early evidence from other sectors of the Roman Empire, such evidence is usually seen to be conclusive.

The internal evidence has to do with the copyists and authors. When translators are faced with a choice between two or more vari- ants, they usually can detect which readings are the mistakes because scribal habits and tendencies have been carefully analyzed by schol- ars and are now well known.

Usually the variant that best explains how all the others came about is the one we presume to be the orig- inal text. As already noted, for the vast majority of variants found among the manuscripts, the best or good external evidence combines with the best internal evidence to give us an extraordinarily high degree of certainty about the original text. The incorrect copying of a single letter by a scribe resulted in a change of meaning.

It is also the only text found in all early translations Latin, Coptic, and Syriac and is the only text known among all the church fathers, except one, before the ninth century. It is easy to see what happened in the later Greek manuscripts. It should be noted here that for the most part translators work from Greek and Hebrew texts edited by careful, rigorous scholarship.

Although textual criticism is a science, it is not an exact science, because it deals with too many human variables. Usually at such times the majority choice will be found in the actual translation, while the minority choice will be in the margin.

The reason for the uncertainty is either that the best manuscript evidence conflicts with the best explanation of the corruption or that the manuscript evidence is evenly divided and either variant can explain how the other came to be. Here is one of those places where a good commentary will probably be necessary in order for you to make up your own mind. The preceding example is a good place for us also to refer you back to the last chapter. You will note that the choice of the correct text is one of the content questions.

A good exegete must know, if it is possible to know, which of these words is what Paul actually wrote. In either case, he means that if one gives the body over to some extreme sacrifice, or the like, but lacks love, it is all for nothing.

This, then, is what it means to say that translators must make tex- tual choices, and it also explains one of the reasons why translations will sometimes differ—and also why translators are themselves inter- preters. Before we go on to the second reason why translations dif- fer, we need to make a note here about the King James Version. The KJV is not only the most widely used translation in the world, it is also a classic expression of the English language. However, for the New Testament, the only Greek text available to the translators was based on late manuscripts, which had accu- mulated the mistakes of over a thousand years of copying.

Few of these mistakes—and we must note that there are many of them— make any difference to us doctrinally, but they often do make a dif- ference in the meaning of certain specific texts. This is why for study you should use almost any modern transla- tion rather than the KJV. How to choose between modern transla- tions takes us to the next kinds of choices translators have to make. The Questions of Language The next two kinds of choices—verbal and grammatical—bring us to the actual science of translation.

The problem has to do with the transferring of words and ideas from one language to another. To understand what various theories underlie our modern transla- tions, you will need to become acquainted with the following tech- nical terms: Original language: The language that one is translating from; in our case, Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek.

Receptor language: The language that one is translating into; in our case, English. Historical distance: This has to do with the differences that exist between the original language and the receptor language, both in matters of words, grammar, and idioms, as well as in matters of cul- ture and history.

Theory of translation: This has to do with the degree to which one is willing to go in order to bridge the gap between the two lan- guages. A literal translation will keep the historical distance intact at all points. Free: The attempt to translate the ideas from one language to another, with less concern about using the exact words of the orig- inal. A free translation, sometimes also called a paraphrase, tries to eliminate as much of the historical distance as possible. Dynamic equivalent: The attempt to translate words, idioms, and grammatical constructions of the original language into precise equivalents in the receptor language.

A free translation also can be helpful—to stimulate your thinking about the possible meaning of a text. But the basic translation for reading and studying should be something like the NIV. The problem with a literal translation is that it keeps distance at the wrong places—in language and grammar.

Thus the translator often renders the Greek or Hebrew into English that is otherwise never writ- ten or spoken that way. A second problem with a literal translation is that it often makes the English ambiguous, where the Greek or Hebrew was quite clear to the original recipients.

But this is not an ordinary way of speaking in English. Furthermore the phrase is ambiguous. A free translation is always done by a single translator, and unless the translator is also a skilled exegete who knows the various problems in all of the biblical passages, there is a danger that the reader will be misled.

This is especially true of the popular, but unfortunately not altogether accurate, Living Bible. The New Revised Standard Version NRSV is much more accu- rate than The Living Bible and is not a free translation, but it has taken certain liberties with the text in order to be gender neutral when speaking about people.

Weights, measures, money. This is a particularly difficult area. The problem is further compli- cated by the fact that measures or money are often used to suggest contrasts or startling results, as in Matthew —28 or Isaiah To transliterate in these cases will likely cause an English reader to miss the point of the passage. For Americans all of these have the effect of being meaningless or misleading. We would argue that either equivalents or transliterations with marginal notes would be good procedure with most weights and measurements.

However, the use of equivalents is surely to be pre- ferred in the passages like Isaiah and Matthew — And a homer of seed will yield but an ephah of grain. Ten bushels of seed will produce only one bushel of grain. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii. Then the man went out and met one of his fellow servants who owed him a few dollars. Almost all languages have euphemisms for mat- ters of sex and toilet. A translator has one of three choices in such matters: 1 translate literally, but perhaps leave an English-speaking reader bewildered or guessing, 2 translate the literal equivalent, but perhaps offend or shock the reader, or 3 translate with an equivalent euphemism.

Option 3 is probably the best, if there is an appropriate euphe- mism. Otherwise it is better to go with option 2, especially for mat- ters that generally no longer require euphemisms in English. When most people think of translation, this is the area they usually have in mind. It seems like such a simple task: find the English word that means the same as the Hebrew or Greek word. But finding precisely the right word is what makes translation so difficult.

Part of the difficulty is not only in the choosing of an appropriate English word, but also in choosing a word that will not already be filled with connotations that are foreign to the original language. The problem is further complicated by the fact that some Hebrew or Greek words have ranges of meaning different from any- thing in English.

In addition, some words can have several shades of meaning, as well as two or more considerably different meanings. And a deliberate play on words is usually impossible to translate from one language to another. This kind of thing can be illustrated many times over and is one of the reasons why a translation by dynamic equivalent is much to be preferred to a literal translation.

Grammar and Syntax. Even though most Indo-European lan- guages have a great many similarities, each language has its own pre- ferred structures as to how words and ideas are related to each other in sentences. It is at these points especially where translation by dynamic equivalent is to be preferred. A literal translation tends to abuse or override the ordinary structures of the receptor language by directly transferring into it the syntax and grammar of the original lan- guage. Such direct transfers are usually possible in the receptor lan- guage, but they are seldom preferable.

From hundreds of examples, we choose two as illustrations, one from Greek and one from Hebrew. One of the characteristics of Greek is its fondness for what are known as genitive constructions. Thousands of times in the Old Testament the KJV translators woodenly followed the Hebrew word order in a way that does not produce normal, idiomatic English. Did you ever notice, for example, how many verses or sentences in the KJV begin with the word and?

Read Genesis 1, and note that with the single exception of verse 1, every verse of the chapter begins with and, a total of thirty times. Now compare the NIV. It reduces the number of occurrences of and to eleven, while at the same time improving the flow of the language so that it sounds more natural to the ear. The NIV translators produced an improved translation by taking seriously the fact that the vast majority of prose sentences in Old Testament Hebrew begin with one of the two Hebrew forms for the word and.

The word for and appears even when there is absolutely nothing preceding to which the sentence logically connects. In fact, six books of the Old Testament Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, Ezra, Ruth, and Esther begin in Hebrew with the word and, though they obviously do not follow anything.

Accordingly, it is now recognized by Hebrew grammarians that and at the beginning of a sentence is virtually the equivalent of the use of capitalization at the beginning of English sentences. The simple English sentence beginning with a capital letter will do nicely in most cases. We once heard a sermon on the concept that all things are temporary and shall eventually pass away cf.

Judiciously rendering Hebrew into English requires an equivalent meaning, not an equivalent word or clause pattern. We shall conclude with a few summary remarks about several translations. First, it should be noted that we have not tried to be exhaustive. There are still other translations of the whole Bible that we have not included in our discussion, not to mention over seventy-five others of the New Testament alone that have appeared in the twentieth cen- tury.

Several of those latter are excellent, and well worth using e. Among these also are several free translations, two of which are much to be preferred to The Living Bible because of their higher degree of accuracy Phillips, ; F. Bruce [epistles of Paul only], This is an extremely literal translation, filled with the heretical doctrines of this cult.

Others of these translations are eccentric, such as that by George Lamsa , who believed that a Syriac translation from around A. One should probably also include here The Amplified Bible, which has had a run of popularity far beyond its worth. It is far bet- ter to use several translations, note where they differ, and then check out those differences in another source, than to be led to believe that a word can mean one of several things in any given sentence, with the reader left to choose whatever best strikes his or her fancy.

Which translation, then, should you read? We would venture to suggest that the NIV is as good a translation as you will get. One would do well to have two or all three of these. The NIV is a committee translation by the best scholarship in the evangelical tradition; the NAB is a commit- tee translation by the best scholarship in the American Catholic tra- dition.

Bratcher, who regularly consulted with others, and whose expertise in linguistics has brought the concept of dynamic equiva- lence to translation in a thoroughgoing way. These are attempts to update the KJV. The translators used better original texts and thereby eliminated most of the nonoriginal mat- ter in the KJV. At the same time they tried to adhere as closely as possible to the language of the KJV and yet still modernize it some.

Both of these are committee translations. The NEB is the product of the best of British scholar- ship, and is therefore filled with British idioms not always familiar to American readers. Both of these translations tend to be freer at times than the others described here as dynamic equivalent.

But both of them have some outstanding features and are well worth using in conjunction with the others. In the following chapters we will follow the NIV, unless other- wise noted. One of our reasons for starting here is that they appear to be so easy to interpret. This is especially so at the level of hermeneutics. One might try leading a group of Christians through 1 Corinthians, for example, and see how many are the difficulties.

And the questions continue. How does the excommunication of the brother in chapter 5 relate to the contemporary church, espe- cially when he can simply go down the street to another church? What is the point of chapters 12—14 if one is in a local church where charismatic gifts are not accepted as valid for the twentieth century?

It becomes clear that the Epistles are not as easy to interpret as is often thought. Thus, because of their importance to the Christian faith and because so many of the important hermeneutical issues are raised here, we are going to let them serve as models for the exeget- ical and hermeneutical questions we want to raise throughout the book.

T h e N a t u re o f t h e E p i s t l e s Before we look specifically at 1 Corinthians as a model for exegeting the Epistles, some general words are in order about all the Epistles all the New Testament except the four Gospels, Acts, and the Revelation. First, it is necessary to note that the Epistles themselves are not a homogeneous lot.

Many years ago Adolf Deissmann, on the basis of the vast papyrus discoveries, made a distinction between letters and epistles. In contrast to the letter, the epistle was an artistic literary form or a species of literature that was intended for the pub- lic. Romans and Philemon differ from one another not only in content but also to the degree that one is far more personal than the other.

The validity of this distinction may be seen by noting the form of ancient letters. Thousands of ancient letters have been found, and most of them have a form exactly like those in the New Testament cf. The form consists of six parts: 1. It will be noted that the New Testament Epistles that lack either formal elements 1—3 or 6 are those that fail to be true letters, although they are partially epistolary in form.

Hebrews, for exam- ple, which has been described as three parts tract and one part let- ter, was indeed sent to a specific group of people, as —34 and —25 make clear. Note especially the letter form of — First John is similar in some ways, except that it has none of the formal elements of a letter.

The point is, it is not simply a theological treatise for the church at large. James and 2 Peter both are addressed as letters, but both lack the familiar final greeting and farewell; both also lack specific addressees, as well as any personal notations by the writers.

James, on the other hand, so completely lacks an overall argument that it looks more like a collection of sermon notes on a variety of ethical topics than a letter. Despite this variety of kinds, however, there is one thing that all of the Epistles have in common, and this is the crucial thing to note in reading and interpreting them: they are all what are technically called occasional documents i.

Although inspired by the Holy Spirit and thus belonging to all time, they were first written out of the context of the author to the context of the original recipients. It is precisely these factors—that they are occa- sional and that they belong to the first century—that make their interpretation difficult at times.

Above all else, their occasional nature must be taken seriously. Usually the occasion was some kind of behavior that needed correcting, or a doctrinal error that needed setting right, or a mis- understanding that needed further light. Most of our problems in interpreting the Epistles are due to this fact of their being occasional. We have the answers, but we do not always know what the questions or problems were, or even if there was a problem.

One further point here. But it is only some of his theology, in this case it is theology born out of his own special task as apostle to the Gentiles. Thus one will go to the Epistles again and again for Christian theology; they are loaded with it. But one must always keep in mind that they were not primarily written to expound Christian theology.

It is always theology at the service of a particular need. We will note the implications of this for hermeneutics in our next chapter. Given these important preliminaries, how then does one go about the exegesis, or an informed exegetical reading, of the Epistles? From here on, we will proceed with a case study of 1 Corinthians.

We know that not every epistle will be like this one, but nearly all the questions one needs to ask of any epistle are raised here. The Historical Context The first thing one must try to do with any of the Epistles is to form a tentative but informed reconstruction of the situation that the author is speaking to.

What was going on in Corinth that caused Paul to write 1 Corinthians? What kind of relationship and former contacts has he had with them? What attitudes do they and he reflect in this letter? These are the kinds of questions you want answers to. So what do you do? First, you need to consult your Bible dictionary or the introduc- tion to your commentary to find out as much as possible about Corinth and its people.

Among other important things, you should note that by ancient standards it was a relatively young city, only ninety-four years old when Paul first visited it. Yet because of its strategic location for commerce, it was cosmopolitan, wealthy, a patron of the arts, religious at least twenty-six temples and shrines , and well known for its sensuality. With a little reading and imagina- tion one can see that it was a bit of New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, all wrapped up in one place.

Therefore, it will hardly be a let- ter to the community church in Rural Corners, U. All of this will need to be kept in mind as you read in order to note how it will affect your understanding on nearly every page. Second, and now especially for study purposes, you need to develop the habit of reading the whole letter through in one sitting. You will need to block out an hour or less to do this, but nothing can ever substitute for this exercise.

It is the way one reads every other letter. A letter in the Bible should be no different. There are some things you should be looking for as you read, but you are not now trying to grasp the meaning of every word or sentence. It is the big view that counts first. We cannot stress enough the importance of reading and reread- ing. Once you have divided the letter into its logical parts or sec- tions, you will want to begin the study of every section precisely the same way.

Read and reread; and keep your eyes open! As you read the whole letter through, it would be helpful to jot down a few, very brief, notes with references. This is for the sake of those who have a hard time making mental notes.

What things should you note as you read for the big picture? Remember, the pur- pose here is first of all to reconstruct the problem. If all of this is too much at one sitting and causes you to lose the value of reading it through, then read first, and afterwards go back quickly through the letter with a skim reading to pick up these items.

Here are the kinds of things you might have noticed, grouped according to the four suggested categories: 1. The Corinthian believers are chiefly Gentile, although there are also some Jews see —11; ; , 13 ; they obviously love wisdom and knowledge —; ; —13; hence the irony in ; they are proud and arrogant ; , 6 even to the point of judging Paul —5; —18 ; yet they have a large number of internal problems.

Probably these are all items from their letter that he is taking up one at a time. Probably they brought the letter to Paul as a kind of official delegation. If you did not catch all of these things, do not give up. We have gone over this material a lot of times, and it is all familiar turf. We come now to the important matter of having a working outline of the letter. The place to begin is with the obvious major divisions.

In this case is the big clue. Since here Paul first mentions their letter to him, and since in —12 and he mentions items reported to him, we may initially assume that the matters in chapters 1—6 are all responses to what has been reported to him. Introductory phrases and subject matter are the clues to all other divisions in the letter.

There are four in the first six chapters: the problem of division in the church — ; the problem of the incestuous man —13 ; the problem of lawsuits —11 ; the problem of fornication — Probably the items in chapter 11 at least —34 were also reported to him but are included here because everything from chapters 8 to 14 deals with worship in some way or another.

It is dif- ficult to know whether chapter 15 is a response to the report or to the letter. In any case the rest of the letter can easily be outlined. It may be that by following the divisions in the NIV you failed to note the division at , or that you divided chapters 1—4, 8— 10, and 12—14 into smaller groupings. But do you also see that these latter three are complete units?

For example, note how thoroughly chapter 13 belongs to the whole argument of 12 to 14 by the men- tion of specific spiritual gifts in verses 1—2 and 8. Before we go on, two things should be noted carefully. For the most part, the other letters basically form one long argument—although sometimes the argument has several clear parts to it.

We know what occasioned the letter only at the surface—a report and a letter. But what we really want to know is the precise nature of each of the problems in Corinth that called forth each specific response from Paul. For our purposes here, therefore, we will spend the rest of our time zeroing in on only one item, the problem of division in chapters 1—4.

The Historical Context of 1 Corinthians 1 — 4 As you approach each of the smaller sections of the letter, you need to repeat much of what we have just done. If we were giving you an assignment for each lesson, it would go like this: 1 Read 1 Corinthians 1—4 through at least two times preferably in two dif- ferent translations. After you have read it through the second time or even the third or fourth if you want to read it in each of your translations , go back and 2 list in a notebook every- thing you can that tells you something about the recipients and their problem.

One of the reasons for choosing this section as a model is not only that it is so crucial to much of 1 Corinthians, but also, frankly, because it is a difficult one. If you have read the whole section with care with an eye for the problem, you may have noted, or even were frustrated by, the fact that although Paul begins by specifically spelling out the problem —12 , the beginning of his answer — does not seem to speak to the problem at all.

The crucial matter for discovering the problem, then, is to see how all this might fit together. The place to begin is by making note of what Paul specifically says. In —12 he says they are divided in the name of their lead- ers cf. But did you also notice that the divi- sion is not merely a matter of differences of opinion among them? All of this seems clear enough. But a careful reading with an eye for the problem should cause two other things to surface. This becomes especially clear in —5 and — With that in mind, one might legitimately see the quarreling and division to be not simply a matter of some of them preferring Apollos to Paul, but of their actually being opposed to Paul.

And it is clear that this is more often a pejorative term than a favorable one. God is out to set aside the wisdom of this world —22, 27—28; — But how? At the least, we can guess that they are carrying on their division over lead- ers and their opposition to Paul in the name of wisdom. Anything we say beyond that will lie in the area of speculation, or educated guessing.

You will recall from chapter 1 that this, too, is something you can do without initial dependence on the scholars. Therefore, you want to be able to do two things: 1 In a compact way state the content of each paragraph. What does Paul say in this paragraph? How does this content con- tribute to the argument? How can that be so? Who in the name of wisdom would have chosen you to become the new people of God?

Since the Corinthians do have the Spirit, he continues now by way of tran- sition, they should stop acting like those who do not —4. How, then, do the next three paragraphs function in this argu- ment? For —9, the content deals with the nature and function of the leaders over whom they are quarreling. Paul emphasizes that they are merely servants, not lords, as the Corinthian slogans seem to be making them.

Notice how crucial to the problem these two points are. They are dividing the church on the basis of its leaders. But these leaders are not lords to whom one belongs. They are servants, who, even though they have differing ministries, are one in the same cause. And these servants belong to God, just as the Corinthians themselves do. Another text that has often been wrongly interpreted because of the failure to think paragraphs is — Note two things: 1 At the end of verse 9 Paul shifts the metaphor from agriculture to archi- tecture, which will be the metaphor used throughout this paragraph.

However, the point of each paragraph differs. Note that what is being built throughout is the church; there is not even a hint that Paul is referring to how each individual Christian builds his or her life on Christ, which in fact is totally irrel- evant to the argument. What Paul does here is to turn the argument slightly to warn those who lead the church that they must do so with great care, because a day of testing is coming.

Building the church with human wisdom or eloquent speech that circumvents the Cross is building with wood, hay, and stubble. Those respon- sible for it, Paul says, will themselves be destroyed by God, because the church in Corinth was precious i. He began by exposing their inadequate understanding of the Gospel, a Gospel that is not only not based on human wisdom but in every way stands as the contradiction to it. In —23 he brings these two themes together in a concluding statement.

This, then, is what exegesis is all about. You may have further questions about specific points of content, for which you can consult your commentary. But all of what we have done here, you can do. It may take practice—in some cases even some hard work of thinking; but you can do it, and the rewards are great. O n e M o re Ti m e Before we conclude this chapter, let us go through the process of exegesis one more time for practice, and this time in a somewhat easier passage outside of 1 Corinthians, but a passage that also deals with disunity in the church.

Read Philippians — several times. Apparently Epaphroditus became sick and the church heard of it and was sad- dened ; but God spared him, so now Paul is sending him back —30 with this letter in order to 1 tell them how things are with him —26 , 2 thank them for their gift , 14—19 , and 3 exhort them on a couple of matters: to live in harmony —; —3 and to avoid the Judaizing heresy — Paul has just completed the section by telling them how he is getting along in his imprisonment.

This new section is a part of the exhortation. Notice, for example, how he is no longer talking about himself as in verses 12— What then is the point of each paragraph in this section? The first paragraph, —30, begins the exhortation. Note: If we decide that v. How does —4 relate to unity? First, he repeats the exhorta- tion vv. But the point now is that humility is the proper attitude for the believers to have unity. Now you try it with — What is the point?

Why this appeal to the humiliation and exaltation of Christ? Your answer does not have to be in our words, but surely should include the following: Jesus in his incarnation and death is the supreme example of the humility Paul wants them to have. You will notice that when you ask the questions this way, the point of the paragraph is not to teach us something new about Christ.

He is appealing to these great truths about Christ to get the Philippians to be like him, not simply to know about him. Go on to — Now what is the point? This is clearly the conclusion. Notice the word therefore. In what? Surely in having unity, which also requires humility. Finally, you might note from the way Paul here deals with the problem of disunity that the similar problem in Corinth was surely of a much more serious and complex nature. This should further help to confirm our reconstruction of the problem there.

T h e P ro b l e m P a s s a g e s We have purposely led you through two passages where we are convinced you could have done most of this kind of exegesis on your own, given that you have learned to think paragraphs and to ask the right historical and contextual questions. In short, how do we go about finding the meaning of the problem passages? Here are some guidelines: 1. In many cases the reason the texts are so difficult for us is that, frankly, they were not written to us.

That is, the original author and his readers are on a similar wavelength that allows the inspired author to assume a great deal on the part of his readers. What he had told them orally they could now fit into what he was saying by letter. Our lack of the oral communication makes the written one especially difficult. But we take it as a truism: what God wants us to know he has com- municated to us; what he has not told us may still hold our interest, but our uncertainty at these points should make us hesitant about being dogmatic.

Despite some uncertainty as to some of the precise details, one needs to learn to ask what can be said for certain about a text and what is possible but not certain. Look at 1 Corinthians again as an example. What can be said for certain? Moreover, Paul neither condemns nor condones their practice; he simply refers to it—for a totally different reason from the actual practice itself. But we do not know and probably never will know who was doing it, for whom they were doing it, and why they were doing it.

The details and the meaning of the practice, therefore, are probably forever lost to us. On such passages one needs to consult a good commentary. As we point out in the appendix, it is the handling of just such a pas- sage that separates the good commentaries from all the others. The good ones will list and at least briefly discuss the various options that have been suggested as solutions, with reasons for and against.

Finally, we suggest that even scholars do not have all the answers. You can more or less count on it that where there are four to four- teen viable options as to what a text meant, even the scholars are guessing! Texts like 1 Corinthians on which there are at least forty different guesses should serve to give us proper humility.

What we have done in this chapter, however, is only half the task. It is the essential first half, but now we want to go on to ask how these various texts apply to us. What about his Word to us? That is the concern of the next chapter. What do these texts mean to us?

This is the crux of everything, and compared with this task, exegesis is relatively easy. At least in exegesis, even if there are disagreements at particular points, most people are agreed upon the parameters of meaning; there are limitations of possibilities set by the historical and literary contexts. Paul, for example, cannot have meant something that he and his readers had never heard of; his meaning at least has to have been a first-century possibility. However, no such consensus of parameters seems to exist for hermeneutics learning to hear the meaning in the contexts of our own day.

It is no wonder that there are so many differences among Christians; what is more amazing is that there are not far more differences than actually exist. The reason for this is that there is in fact a common ground of hermeneutics among us, even if we have not always articulated it.

That problem will therefore receive a considerable amount of attention. What is it that all of us do as we read the Epistles? Very simply, we bring our enlightened com- mon sense to the text and apply what we can to our own situation. What does not seem to apply is simply left in the first century.

None of us would ever think to question what has been done with either of these passages—although many of us may have moments of struggle in graciously obeying the latter. Let it be emphasized here that most of the matters in the Epistles fit very nicely into this common-sense hermeneutics. Our problems—and differences—are generated by those texts that lie somewhere in between these two, where some of us think we should obey exactly what is stated and others of us are not so sure.

Our hermeneutical difficulties here are several, but they are all related to one thing—our lack of consistency. This is the great flaw in our common hermeneutics. It is interesting to note, for example, that everybody in American evangelicalism or fundamentalism would agree with our common stance on 2 Timothy and But why is this personal word limited to Timothy while the exhortation to continue in the Word 2 Tim. Mind you, one might well be right in bypass- ing 1 Timothy as not having present personal application, but on what hermeneutical grounds?

Long hair on boys had already become the symbol of a new era in the hippie cul- ture of the s. Yet most of those who quoted that text against the youth culture allowed for Christian women to cut their hair short despite v. These two examples simply illustrate how culture dictates what is common sense for any one of us.

But other things also dictate common sense—ecclesiastical traditions, for example. How is it that verses 34—35 belong to all times and cultures, while verses 1—5, or 26—33, and 39—40, which give regulations for prophesying and speaking in tongues, belong only to the first-century church? Notice further how easy it is for twentieth-century Christians to read their own tradition of church order into 1 Timothy and Titus.

Yet very few churches have the plural leadership that seems clearly to be in view there 1 Tim. And have you noticed how our prior theological commitments cause many of us to read that commitment into some texts while we read around others? It comes as a total surprise to some Christians when they find out that other Christians find support for infant bap- tism in such texts as 1 Corinthians ; , or Colossians — 12, or that others find evidence for a two-stage Second Coming in 2 Thessalonians , or that still others find evidence for sanctifica- tion as a second work of grace in Titus Likewise many Calvinists have their own ways of getting around 1 Corinthians —13; 2 Peter —22; and Hebrews —6.

After the last few paragraphs, we have probably lost a lot of friends but we are trying to illustrate how thoroughgoing the prob- lem is, and how Christians need to talk to one another in this cru- cial area. What kinds of guidelines, then, are needed in order to establish more consistent hermeneutics for the Epistles? This is why exegesis must always come first. It is especially important that we repeat this premise here, for this at least establishes some parameters of meaning.

This rule does not always help one find out what a text means, but it does help to set limits as to what it cannot mean. We are told that the perfect has come, in the form of the New Testament, and therefore the imperfect prophecy and tongues have ceased to function in the church. But this is one thing the text cannot mean because good exegesis totally disallows it. There is no possible way Paul could have meant that—after all, his readers did not know there was going to be a New Testament, and the Holy Spirit would not have allowed Paul to write something totally incomprehensible to them.

The Second Rule The second basic rule is actually a different way of expressing our common hermeneutics. It says this: Whenever we share comparable particulars i. It is this rule that causes most of the theological texts and the community-directed ethical imperatives in the Epistles to give modern-day Christians a sense of immediacy with the first century.

The two longer texts we exegeted in the preceding chapter seem to be of this kind. We still have local churches, which still have leaders who need to hear the Word and take care how they build the church. The great caution here is that we do our exegesis well so that we have confidence that our situations and particulars are genuinely comparable to theirs. This is why the careful reconstruction of their problem is so important. For example, it is significant for our hermeneutics to note that the lawsuit in 1 Corinthians —11 was between two Christian brothers before a pagan judge out in the open marketplace in Corinth.

We would argue that the point of the text does not change if the judge happens to be a Christian or because the trial takes place in a courthouse. The wrong is for two brothers to go to law outside the church, as verses 6—11 make per- fectly clear.

All of what has been said thus far seems easy enough. But the question as to how a text such as 1 Corinthians —11 might apply beyond its specific particulars is but one of the several kinds of ques- tions that need to be discussed.

The rest of this chapter addresses four such problems. May not this principle now be applied to the individual Christian to teach that God will judge the person who abuses his or her body? Similarly, 1 Corinthians —15 is addressing those with building responsibilities in the church, and warns of the loss they will suffer who build poorly. If these are deemed legitimate applications, then we would seem to have good reason to be concerned.

For inherent in such application is the bypassing of exegesis altogether. After all, to apply 1 Corinthi- ans —17 to the individual believer is precisely what many in the church have erroneously done for centuries. Why do exegesis at all? Why not simply begin with the here and now and fall heir to centuries of error? Furthermore, it should be noted that the extended application is usually seen to be legiti- mate because it is true, that is, it is clearly spelled out in other pas- sages where that is the intent of the passage.

If that be the case, then one should ask whether what one learns only by extended applica- tion can truly be the Word of God. However, the metaphor of a yoke is rarely used in antiquity to refer to marriage, and there is nothing whatever in the context that remotely allows marriage to be in view here.

Our problem is that we cannot be certain as to what the original text is forbidding. Most likely it has something to do with idolatry, perhaps as a further prohibition of attendance at the idol feasts cf. Probably so, but again, only because it is indeed a biblical prin- ciple that can be sustained apart from this single text. T h e P ro b l e m o f P a r t i c u l a r s T h a t A re N o t Comparable The problem here has to do with two kinds of texts in the Epistles: those that speak to first-century issues that for the most part are without any twentieth-century counterparts, and those texts that speak to problems that could possibly happen also in the twentieth century but are highly unlikely to do so.

What does one do with such texts, and how do they address us? Or do they? Sound exegesis of these passages indicates that Paul answers these problems as follows: 1 They are absolutely forbidden to attend the idol feasts because of the stumbling-block principle —13 , because such eating is incompatible with life in Christ as it is expe- rienced at his table —17 , and because it means to participate in the demonic — In the latter context it may also be refused if it might create a problem for someone else.

One may eat anything to the glory of God; but one should not do something that deliberately offends. Our problem is that this kind of idolatry is simply unknown in Western cultures, so that problems 1 and 3 simply do not exist. These things could happen but are highly improbable in our culture. The question is, how do the answers to these nontwentieth-cen- tury problems speak to twentieth-century Christians? We suggest that proper hermeneutics here must take two steps.

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Some of the methods given will not work in the Ozarks. Others will be valuable when adjusted to warm to hot weather and gravelly soil. This is a good book for even more casual gardeners to browse through. Nothing beats fresh vegetables from the garden and this book will help get them to your table. Nov 11, Bethany rated it really liked it Recommends it for: New Gardeners.

Shelves: non-fiction. I did not read everything in this book, but it is a fantastic book for getting a start on a garden. View all 6 comments. Oct 26, Lucien rated it liked it. A bit fluffy, but good for what it is a basic introduction to North American vegetable gardening. Apr 20, Nikki SC rated it really liked it. As a gardening novice, this is a good resource although some of the information is a tad outdated.

Aug 27, Tom Hespos rated it it was amazing. So when I first started my vegetable garden at my new place in , I did it in accordance with what I remembered from gardening as a kid. The results were pretty middle-of-the-road. My mom got me this book, so I started taking it on the train with me after I planted this year. Not only did it teach me some things I should be doing along the way, but it challenged many beliefs I had and taught me the right way.

By way of example, here are some long-held beliefs that I'll be shedding thanks to th So when I first started my vegetable garden at my new place in , I did it in accordance with what I remembered from gardening as a kid. By way of example, here are some long-held beliefs that I'll be shedding thanks to this book: 1 Raised beds are great, but you need to coat the bottoms with landscape fabric.

Raised beds should be double-dug, so they extend down below the bottom edges of the frames. They're best when small. You're killing all the worms. This year's harvest was already light-years ahead of where it should have been, had I stuck to all my outdated folk wisdom. Really, though, I'm looking forward to next year when I can use everything I've learned to start fresh and have the best vegetable garden ever. Sep 13, Angie rated it it was amazing. This is my total go-to book for quick referencing issues that crop up in my garden.

I have lots of gardening books, but when it comes to needing the info, this book delivers all the answers. Highly recommend for the beginner and seasoned gardener alike! I grew a thriving garden in my first year gardening thanks to much of the advice in this book. Jul 30, Larissa rated it it was amazing. So much valuable information! A must-have for vegetable gardeners. Feb 14, Zora rated it it was amazing.

A solid five stars. What a great book for beginner and intermediate gardeners! I like that he is up to date on so many techniques. His overview of what to do about bugs is particularly good, as you don't want to hurt your beneficial insect friends at the same time you're having a war with your vine borers or white fly. The only thing he missed saying here that I've heard in good advice is that if you're going to cave to your frustration and sprinkle some sort of organic powder to control insect A solid five stars.

The only thing he missed saying here that I've heard in good advice is that if you're going to cave to your frustration and sprinkle some sort of organic powder to control insect crawling pests, do it at sunset and wash it off at dawn with a hose set on spray. That way, bees and butterflies won't be landing right on it, as they aren't nocturnal.

A very few negatives: He does talk about zone 4 gardening a bit, as he lives there, but I wasn't troubled by that, as zone 4 gardeners have issues I can't even begin to compare mine. Also, it was just a friendly sort of chit-chat, a sentence here and there. Similarly, he only touched a couple times on gardening in climates like Phoenix and San Diego's, but that has such an odd set of rules, you really need local resources to do it well. Local TV stations are pretty good about keeping you up to date on when to do what in those climes.

Still, what he says about soil, pests, and vegetable types still applies. Compost tea has pretty much been debunked by research just use the compost itself--the benefit is identical and you won't waste all that time making the tea , but that may have happened subsequent to when he wrote this. Also, it's too heavy a book to take into the garden. The upside to that is there is plenty to read on a cold winter night. That's nitpicky though and doesn't erase my five-star impression of this book.

It's pretty, it's stuffed full of facts, it talks about vegetables not everyone grows but I do mache, claytonia, scorzanera, for instance and I wish more people did, in addition to the ones everybody does grow. The prose is The book cheered me up in February, and though I got it from the library, I'll definitely consider buying it for myself as well. Nov 05, Nathan rated it really liked it.

I found this gem at the local used bookstore the other day. Last night I started reading skimming is more accurate and made it all the way to the end. To me - a novice gardener at best - it was a treasure trove of great advice, a reference I plan to use regularly. Chapter 1: - His argument for wide, deep raised beds, reviewing size, angles, and the centrality of sunshine. Extra good! Chapter 2: - How to plan the garden - Picking your seeds, and what to plant - Section on plant families and what plants are "friends" or "adversaries" - Crop rotations and sample beds Chapter 3: - Starting seedlings indoors, how to - Cold frames and greenhouses - Sowing seedlings outdoors Chapter 4: - Strategies for keeping out the weeds; tools and how to maintain them.

All-in-all, a great resource for gardening. My only wish was a little more for warmer climates. Smith gardens in Vermont where snow and cold are the big weather worry. Here in central California, it's obviously different. May 27, Machon N Ross rated it it was amazing.

This book is a must have for a beginner gardener. As I would read about something I am growing I would cringe seeing that I had already made errors. Moving forward it makes sense to read about the plant before planting it, eager beaver mistake. I highly recommend this book if only for the breakdown in the back of all the vegetables.

This book also touches on setting up gardens, soil, and a variety of things other This book is a must have for a beginner gardener. This book also touches on setting up gardens, soil, and a variety of things other than the plants themselves. I highly recommend this book.

May 09, Karen rated it liked it Shelves: reference. If I were looking for a new gardening system, I would probably have liked this book better, but much of it was how-to for his system. What I really liked was the section on the plants themselves because he included watering patterns for sowing, flowering, and harvest periods, what to or not to rotate the plant with, nutrient requirements, light requirements, and pH requirements all in a nice box for each plant.

I'm hoping to use the information to try to figure out where to plant what. It's a bo If I were looking for a new gardening system, I would probably have liked this book better, but much of it was how-to for his system. It's a book I may have to buy if I can find it at a used book sale. Dec 04, Justin rated it it was amazing Shelves: gardening , own. One of my favorite gardening books. Well organized with useful sections on things like composting.

Sections have nice tables with things like companion plants, good insects and bad insects. There are nice pictures of bugs and plant diseases. There is also a plant by plant section with a nice table containing both sowing and growing information. A great reference and one I will buy unlike the dozens of other gardening books I've read. Jan 03, David rated it it was amazing.

I read this knowing almost nothing about gardening. This book covers a variety of topics, including planning the garden, making beds, starting seeds, plant nutrition, plant diseases, and composting. There's a big reference towards the end about vegetables and herbs. I wish all of it were a little better structured, and there were still some gaps for me as a newcomer, but overall it seems like a good overview and reference.

Nov 04, Rebecca rated it it was amazing. Such a useful reference guide. Useful for both preparing your garden bed, and caring for individual plants. Also contains a beneficial versus problem bug section, and encourages natural and permaculture concepts. I love the individual veggie and herb sections, which are helpful with specific plant needs.

He also has tips for harvest, storage and use! I'll definitely need to be adding this to my collection. May 26, Missy rated it it was amazing Shelves: gardening , non-fiction , home-library , favorite-unforgettables. I've had this gardening book for years, maybe since around or so, and absolutely love how this is laid out.

It is such an easy reference book to find what you need to know about how to plant and care for each vegetable you choose for your garden. It is definitely a keeper. I've used this book every winter to plan out my spring gardens over the years. My copy is very used, wrinkled and dirty, probably cause I take it out to the garden with me.

Mar 27, Karen rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , gardening. This book is loaded with information, not just for raised garden beds, but for gardening all the vegetables I might want to grow. It hasn't left my kitchen table since I bought it since I am constantly referencing it. This book covers almost everything from seed to harvest! I found the photos and illustrations really helpful.

This book also has a lot of charts that make information easy to understand. I'd highly recommend this for the beginner gardener! This is a great reference for beginners or experienced alike. Plentiful photographs and illustrations but I found the recommended varieties the most valuable.

Brett L. Deborah L. Lewis Hill. Derek Fell. Join Ed Smith and hundreds of thousands of happy gardeners who are using the W-O-R-D system to grow their own delicious, abundant, organic vegetables. Already loved for its friendly advice, vegetable-specific information, and unwavering commitment to organic methods, American's best-selling vegetable-gardening book now covers more plants and offers smart new solutions for small-space and extended-season gardening. Try new and unusual varieties, page Grow the best tomatoes, page Succeed with fussy plants, page Master succession planting, page 49 Enjoy a bountiful harvest, page --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

About the author Follow authors to get new release updates, plus improved recommendations. Brief content visible, double tap to read full content. Full content visible, double tap to read brief content. Read more Read less. Customer reviews. How customer reviews and ratings work Customer Reviews, including Product Star Ratings help customers to learn more about the product and decide whether it is the right product for them. Learn more how customers reviews work on Amazon. Images in this review.

Reviews with images. See all customer images. Top reviews Most recent Top reviews. Top reviews from the United States. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Verified Purchase. This book is a wealth of knowledge. I've been gardening for a couple of years now but didn't feel that I was really getting the hang of it as much as I could. I already had put in raised beds. But I like how this book has provided information on how much I could plant in one area like bunched all together and such and different schemes of planting.

Sure, it says how to plant on the back of the seed packaging, but there is more planning into it than you would think. I will also regularly forget what plants like others and which ones don't. Not anymore! This book has the full list. Watering plants. No brainer right? At least if you want your garden to be growing at it's very best. Of course, that's even included in this book.

I really like that this book also involves soil and how important it is and how to check it. Moving from another state where some vegetables grew so well to this state where those same plants struggle has been difficult. I'm going to have really invest into the soil this year and I'm grateful that this book explains the steps on what I need to do.

There really is so much more about this book but unfortunately I don't have time to write a novel. My favorite part of this book though is the glossary of information about each vegetable you'd ever even think about planting. Each page includes: the name of the vegetable, information about it, where they like to been sown and grown, seed depth, germination soil temperature, days to germination, when to sow indoors or not to , when to sow outdoors or not to , growing pH, growing soil temperature, spacing in beds, watering, light needed, nutrient requirements, rotation considerations, and seed longevity.

Seriously helpful no matter how short or long you have been gardening. My only dislikes about this book is that certain parts didn't get more information. Like greenhouse growing. I was hoping there would be more information given on growing and continuing in the greenhouse should I not want to plant outside. If bee's needed to get inside, how that would all work. I was super happy to see the section on vertical gardening.

I have tried it once before but was eager for more information. Sadly, even though it showed 3 examples of vertical gardening tepees, A-frames, homemade trellises , it only showed how to make a typical trellis.

I was hoping to see how to make the A-frame one in particular. Still love this book though. Highly recommend. This is exactly what it says the gardening bible!! Tells You every little thing about every kind of vegetable and most herbs!! And its a big big book!!

I gotta tell ya I have no idea what I'm doing. Let me start by saying how I came to find this book; I am a mother of two little boys and lost my mother to breast cancer at a young age. The food I buy at the grocery store, no matter how thoroughly I read the label I know will always have something I don't want in it. I put an exhausting amount of effort into thinking about the food my family eats but sometimes it's just so overwhelming, I give up and just order a pizza.

Sounds off topic but that is how I landed on this book, I was exhausted and feeling like nothing I could ever buy would truly be a healthy option to feed my family and steer away from harmful cancer-causing chemicals in our food. So, I went to the internet to search for something to help my black-thumb and figure out how to provide the healthiest food for my family, without breaking the bank.

Like I mentioned before I have no idea what I'm doing. I come from the school of thought that if I kill my flowers, I just run down to the store and buy new pretty flowers and throw away the old ones I killed and replace with new said flowers. Happy day. Well, that doesn't really work when you're trying to actually produce a harvest of some kind I have been reading this book for months and I started by dog-earing pages that were helpful Don't do it.

I soon realized I was dog-earing every single page. This book has helped me to understand every aspect of starting and maintaining a garden. My dad, who actually grew up on a farm, read some of my book when he came to visit and even he was very impressed. I mention this because I don't think this book is only for idiot-gardeners like myself. He read a lot of the recommendations and theories for wide-row and organic methods and he even learned from this book.

I would highly recommend purchasing this book. The list really goes on and on.

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