I’ve been re-reading Oliver O’Donovan’s trilogy on moral theology over the past few weeks (see here, here, and here).
These volumes are an example of Christian theology at its best: deeply informed by scriptural exegesis, conversant with a wide-range of classical and contemporary theological and philosophical resources, profound in theological judgment, elegant in architectonic structure.
Page after page conveys theological wisdom. In a section that stuck out particularly to me, given present research interests, O’Donovan provides a crisp summary of what “good biblical interpretation” involves. I thought it worth sharing here:
Good interpretation never struggles against the text, reading, as the fashion is, ‘against the grain,’ deconstructing the textual surface and showing it up as a confidence trick. Good interpretation never tries to bargain with the text, forging a compromise between what it says and what we would like to hear from it. It never supplements the text, overlaying it with independent reflections that head off on their own devices, never invokes a higher wisdom to cover the text’s nakedness. Interpretation is the cheerful acceptance of the text’s offer of more than lies on its surface, its invitation to come inside, to attune ourselves to its resonances and its dynamics, its suggestions and its logic.”Oliver O’Donovan, Finding and Seeking: Ethics as Theology Volume 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014)