There are two obvious challenges to answering the question, “Is the Judicium Jovis an ecological text?” The first is hermeneutical, but much less challenging, since Judicium Jovis is at least present for analysis. The second, understanding what it means to speak of “ecology” is considerably more challenging. It is only by understanding the latter that we can hope to answer the prior.
Ecology is a worldview, supposedly first established by Romantic writers. White argues that Western Man necessarily stands in a negative relationship to nature because of received traditions of Christianity. This relationship, of Man to nature under the necessary rubric of Christian thought, can be our starting point for a broad definition of ecology. Defined in this way, ecology is necessarily negative for Western Man because, White argues, Man stands in relation to nature as though Man has an “effective monopoly of spirit.” Nature is excluded from spirit. White argues that in different religious contexts, be it Zen Buddhism or roads not taken in Christianity (e.g., St. Francis of Assisi), there is an alternative articulation of Man and nature. White argues that this alternative relationship—still a religious one—is the proper and healthy ecological one.
Since the publication of White’s essay this thesis has been criticized heavily on Biblical grounds. Whatever the merit of these particulars, I think White is indubitably correct to align religious worldviews with ecological worldviews. Contemporary discussions of environment certainly take on a religious tone and fervour. It is valuable to salvage this insight, and alter our definition of ecology slightly: ecology is the worldview of environment and Christianity. This does not mean the relationship must be negative, since even White hopes for a religious solution. As a worldview, however, ecology speaks to action and justice, but Christian ethics is “eschatological or it is nothing.”
By putting eschatology on the table, as it were, we are now in a better position to understand what ecology is really about. According to John J. Collins there are three aspects of eschatological thinking: it is expressive, commissive, and denunciatory. It is expressive because it permits contemporary society to articulate attitudes about the world. It is commissive because it exerts ethical pressure and demands ethical decision. And finally, it is denunciatory because it provides rhetoric for denouncing the deficiencies of this world. In Judicium Jovis we see examples of all three aspects. For example, Judicium Jovis is expressive when Mercury worries about Man’s ‘lust for silver’ and the risks Man takes in extracting the metal. Mercury is describing Man’s avarice, a lust so bad that Man ignores the suffering of “the mother who nurtured you”. Extracting metal from Earth is clearly an example of a wider problem—all aspects of mining are seen as problematic, and the discourse is clearly intended to remind the reader of other examples of Man’s folly. Man’s defense against Mercury’s argument does not attempt to show no wrong-doing, Man has already admitted that he is unable to maintain “innocence pure and white”. The commissive pressure of Mercury’s argument is so great that Man must attempt to show his humble and unfortunate circumstances, not from a place of moral righteousness. Earth’s tears and piercings are intended to stir denunciatory feelings towards mining. In fact, the entire thrust of Judicium Jovis is denunciatory and a challenge (or exploration) to current practices facing the society.
If Judicium Jovis can be understood in eschatological terms does this mean it is an ecological text? I think Judicium Jovis is clearly not merely nature writing—it engages with eschatological themes and is part of a worldview related to Christian thought. A challenge to this interpretation, of course, is that Judicium Jovis articulates a pantheon of pagan gods. This curious fact belies White’s argument and my argument that Judicium Jovis engages with eschatology. Only a closer historical investigation of Judicium Jovis can determine to what extent it was written outside of an eschatological framework.
If my preliminary explanation of eschatology and Judicium Jovis is cogent, then is Judicium Jovis an early ecological text? I do not think so. Or, Judivium Jovis is ecological only to the extent that it rejects ecology—such that it is written in stark reply to other ecological thinking of the time. If this is true, then this does not mean that Judicium Jovis is anti-environmental in the modern sense of being “against nature” or environmental in the sense of being “for nature”, rather it means that Judicium Jovis espouses a worldview in contradistinction to ecology. A modern parallel might be rather like an economic text that frames all life in economic terms, and manages to frame Man’s relationship to nature completely outside of eschatology. I do not imagine Judicium Jovis is written in this way. Instead, I think that Judicium Jovis grapples with the ecological worldview but rejects it or does not fully understand it.
The judgement of Man is ultimately made by Jupiter, but instead of passing his own judgement Jupiter seeks judgement from Fortuna. This is a curious twist to the story and shows how Judicium Jovis rejects ecological thinking. It is only with Jupiter’s judgement that Man can expect a rebirth, renewal, or destruction, but instead Fortuna offers a fateful description of Man’s sorry struggle. Eschatology is the view in which “the present and the future can be seen as somehow related so that the qualitative difference between the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’ is not absolute.” There is no hope or distress in Fortuna’s response, she speaks of necessity and limitless endurance with no progress from ‘now’ to ‘not yet’. Man is not going to be saved, by fire or salvation, or any other supernatural force by Jupiter. It is made clear that Fortuna, not Jupiter, is going to rule over Man. The story ends with a Sisyphusian note, not an eschatological one. Judicium Jovis articulates a relationship between Man and history, in which history is a fateful expression conducted through time—there is not a description of the relationship of Man and nature.
Bridger, Francis. “Ecology and Eschatology: A Neglected Dimension.” Tyndale Bulletin 41, no. 2 (1990): 290-301.
White, Lynn Jr. “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” Science 155, no. 3767. New Series (March 10, 1967): 1203-1206.
 White, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.”
 Ibid, 1203.
 Bridger, “Ecology and Eschatology: A Neglected Dimension,” 294.
 Ibid, 293.
 Ibid, 292.