The Grand View: Mountains in Biblical and Theological Perspective

Within a worldview strongly influenced by empiricism, mountains tend to be viewed as a physical fact or object of scientific investigation. The unfortunate result is a kind of flat earth perspective that, whatever the geography of the earth, seems to be lacking Biblical, ontological, and theological depth. In contrast, mountains feature prominently as specific, meaningful locations in numerous Biblical narratives, notably in the life of Jesus himself. Moreover, as human beings made in the image of God and understanding and experiencing this world made by God, we might reasonably expect mountains and the world created by God to have some intrinsic theological or symbolic meaning beyond empirical fact. This paper proposes to (1) examine key Biblical texts, (2) examine the physical characteristics of mountains, and (3) offer some explicitly Christian theological reflections. In doing so, mountains and, by extension, all of creation can be seen as a theologically rich place pointing to God and nurturing a multi-faceted relationship with him. Such a perspective may offer a timely alternative to the sterility of empirical modernism on the one hand and the amorphous spirituality of postmodernism on the other.

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