Seeking What Is Right: The Old Testament and the Good Life

Seeking What Is Right: The Old Testament and the Good Life

by Iain Provan
Seeking What Is Right: The Old Testament and the Good Life

Seeking What Is Right: The Old Testament and the Good Life

by Iain Provan


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The question of the good life—what it looks like for people and societies to be well ordered and flourishing—has universal significance, but its proposed solutions are just as far reaching. At the core of this concern is the nature of the good itself: what is "right"? We must attend to this ethical dilemma before we can begin to envision a life lived to the fullest.

With Seeking What Is Right, Iain Provan invites us to consider how Scripture—the Old Testament in particular—can aid us in this quest. In rooting the definition of the good in God’s special revelation, Provan moves beyond the constraints of family, tribe, culture, state, or nature. When we read ourselves into the story of Scripture, we learn a formative ethic that speaks directly to our humanity. Provan delves into Western Christian history to demonstrate the various ways this has been done: how our forebears identified with the narrative of God’s people, Israel, and how they applied the Old Testament to their particular times and concerns. This serves as a foundation upon which modern Christians can assess their decisions as people who read the whole biblical story "from the beginning" in our time.

Provan challenges us to grapple with ethical issues dominating our contemporary culture as a people in exile, a people formed by disciplines steeped in the patterns and teachings of Scripture. To come alongside ancient Israel in its own experiences of exile, to listen with Israel to the utterances of a holy God, is to approach a true picture of the good life that illuminates all facets of human existence. Provan helps us understand how we should and should not read Scripture in arriving at these conclusions, clarifying for the faithful Christian what the limits of the search for "what is right" look like.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481312882
Publisher: Baylor University Press
Publication date: 11/01/2020
Pages: 500
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.42(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Iain Provan is the Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies at Regent College and lives in the Vancouver, Canada area. He is the author of The Reformation and the Right Reading of Scripture; Convenient Myths: The Axial Age, Dark Green Religion, and the World that Never Was; and Seriously Dangerous Religion: What the Old Testament Really Says and Why It Matters.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Foundations
1 The Good Life and How to Recognize It
A Short Introduction
2 The Twenty-Five Percent Bible
Scripture and the Good Life
3 In the Beginning
Design, Sin, and Redundancy
Part 2. Explorations
4 The Emperor’s New Clothes
Constantine as Biblical Hero
5 Not Wholly Roman
The Carolingian Empire
6 Journey to the Center of the Earth
The First Crusade and Jerusalem
7 The Foulness of Fornication
Sex and Marriage in John Calvin’s Geneva
8 Apocalypse Now
The New Jerusalem in Münster
9 Men of Blood
The English Revolution
10 A City upon a Hill
The Godly Republic in New England
11 God’s Servant for Your Good
Tyranny, Freedom, and Right Government
12 Conceived in Liberty?
Race, Slavery, and the People Of God
13 A Monstrous Regiment?
The Vocation and Rights of Women
14 Staying Alive
Jews, Palestinians, and the Holy Land
15 On Looking After the Garden
The Good Life and Environmental Ethics
Part 3. Conclusions
16 The Sword of the Spirit
The Cutting Edge of Biblical Ethics
17 The Moral Maze of the Moment
A Brief Guide for the Perplexed
18 Who Am I?
Questions of Identity
19 The Landscape of Exile
On Living in Dangerous Times
20 The Disciplines of Exile
On Hearts and Minds

What People are Saying About This

Tremper Longman III

What is the biblical vision of 'what is right'? Iain Provan, one of the most important biblical scholars of our generation, brings his expertise not only in the Bible, but also history and contemporary issues of public life, to answer this critical question. He addresses questions like right government, warfare, the status of modern Israel, abortion, the environment, sexuality, and more, and he provides a road map for proper reading of Scripture in order to discern the good life.

Carol M. Kaminski

In his masterful volume,  Seeking What Is Right: The Old Testament and the Good Life, Iain Provan artistically navigates his way through complex ethical issues facing the contemporary church with the steadfast conviction that the Old Testament functions authoritatively in the life of the church today. Exegetically robust and thoroughly biblical, Provan brilliantly weaves into the conversation ancient Christian theologians and historians to create a tour de force on what it means to live the 'good life.' Comprehensive in its scope, this book is essential for pastors and serious Christians who seek to live biblically informed lives amid an increasingly post-Christendom world.

John Goldingay

Iain Provan does it again! Here is another big book with a wide-ranging theme that reflects equally wide reading and evidences the careful thinking that the subjects deserve. You may not agree with all his assessments as he traces what people have done with the Old Testament over the centuries, but you will learn a lot and be stimulated into thinking through a host of important issues.

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