Orville Jenkins Articles Menu
Orville Jenkins Home
Orville Jenkins Book Reviews Menu


Adventures in Honey and Health
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Margaret Feinberg
Scouting the Divine:  My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2009.  214p.)

See my book reviews on Amazon.com
See menu of all book reviews on this site

When I picked up this small hardback, I expected it to be a light devotional focus like so many that are found on the market today.  A quick read but not a lot of enduring substance.  I did not expect a lot of depth or challenge.

Feinberg's work is indeed easy to read and is written in a bright personal testimonial style.  But the more I read the more substance I realized filled these modest pages.  It is intriguing and engaging.

Feinberg is a person who likes adventure.  She is always intrigued, she indicates, by the lure of new settings and new concepts.  She enjoys meeting people from different lifestyles.  One encounter for instance, occurred while she was working in her aunt's bed-and-breakfast in Alaska, she tells of meeting an Oregon sheep farmer.

The farmer Lynne comments that she has been collecting writings that offer spiritual perspectives on sheep and offers to send Feinberg a copy.  This led to a follow-up 10 years later of a visit to Lynne's sheep farm and some personal reflections on the ubiquitous references to sheep in the cultures reflected in the Bible, and their use as metaphors of our spiritual life.

Probing Life
Feinberg reports here on some of the adventures that reflect aspects of life prominent in the Bible.  This is not simply a set of personal reflections.  She has taken time to look into the cultural background and the basic meaning of the key Hebrew words involved.  But she never get pedantic.

One of the areas she investigates in raising honey.  Through a friend she got connected to a bee farm in Colorado.  She details the discussions and insightful experiences with Gary the beekeeper at Honeyville Farm.  This is an informative section was of interest to me a a fan of honey.

Honey in Africa
Honey has special meaning for me too, from my many years of life in East Africa.  Honey is an important basic of life in Africa, even vital.  Honey is important in most traditional societies.  My family raised honey for  when I was a child, and we learned how to tend bees and encourage their life to enhance our own, a positive symbiotic experience illustrating how we share our life with other life forms on god's earth.

In Kenya, the Kamba people were the most famous as beekeepers and honey raisers.  They were neighbors of ours on the eastern side of the East African Highlands.  They were culturally, historically and linguistically related to the Kikuyu, among whom we lived in the center of the country.  Our languages were similar and some dialects could understand each other.  Language across the African highlands is comprised of a broad continuuum of related forms of Bantu speech.

Honey was raised traditionally and commercially by many peoples in Kenya and other parts of Africa.  We would often see jars of honey on sale along the main roads.  But The Kambas were the Honey People.  All over Machakos district, the core area of the Kamba People, honey was a high commodity and roadside kiosks abounded.  We would see hives in the trees all along the Trans-African Highway, the only highway from Nairobi to Mombasa on the Indian Ocean coast 300 miles southeast.  Honey was critical to health and life for the Kamba People.

Balance of Life
I could connect with Feinberg as she described her experience in the hives of Honeyville, with Gary explaining the ins and outs.  She felt Gary's grief when he told her of the loss of hundreds of hives due to a viral infection bees get that shortens their life span considerably due to a disruption of their gut.  This is costly in terms of the loss of whole hives and much honey production.

Feinberg, reflecting on the importance of honey, and its spiritual significance,  comments that only 70 references to honey appear in the Bible, compared to 700 for sheep.

"Yet honey appears consistently throughout Scripture," she says.  "Maybe it's my love of food, but the presence of honey in the bible serves as a tangible reminder that the truths of scripture are a multisensory experience."

Real Life
It appears to me likewise that the Bible is not focused on the ethereal, the theoretical and the philosophical, but on the practical forces and relationships of real life!  The fact that references to honey are found in the Bible is not important because honey has a high and mystical spiritual significance.

But rather, like the metaphors she references about sheep and vines and other common features of our lives, honey provides insights into some aspects of our spiritual identity because honey is in itself so basic to life in the society in out of which the Scriptures arise.  Indeed, honey is considered mystical in some cultures.  This is a basis for its power to focus us on the unseen realities that underlie our daily life.

Value of Life
Honey is a basic and important food in societies all over the world.  Honey is a basic natural food, and known in many cultures as a healing agent.  Not only health is supported by honey, but life itself.  I think you'll find Feinberg's thoughtful reflections here a meaningful affirmation of the value of responsible life.

Feinberg also pursues an adventure in a northern California vineyard, learning about the care of grape vines.  This provides great insights to the high-visibility metaphor of grapes and vineyards in the Bible.  She spins out the vibrant picture that results when you set the New Testament images in Jesus' teachings into this real-life context of care, production of fruit.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] The Carnival of Life

See this book with my review on Amazon.com
See my book reviews on Amazon.com
See menu of all book reviews on this site
See my reading lists
Many other books have review notes with the reading list entry


First reviewed on Amazon and Thoughts and Resources 14 July 2011

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2010 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
Orville Jenkins Articles Menu
Orville Jenkins Home
Orville Jenkins Book Reviews Menu

filename:  feinberghoneyhealth.html