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The Desire of the Nations
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The Desire of the Nations

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  38 ratings  ·  8 reviews
This book by Oliver O'Donovan is a work of systematic Christian political thought, combining Biblical interpretation, historical discussion of the Western political and theological tradition, theoretical construction and critical engagement with contemporary views. It argues for an alternative to political theology, one that is more politically constructive than the domina ...more
Paperback, 316 pages
Published March 2nd 2005 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1996)
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The best theology book I've read in years. O'Donovan re-presents here the grand tradition of Protestant political thought in coherent and persuasive form. Highly recommended.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, O'Donovan is clearly brilliant, and I underlined an extraordinary amount of good lines which I will surely return to many times. But the book was also incredibly difficult to follow. The biggest problem was the lack of any overarching structure to the book. Perhaps it was simply above my level, but even compared to other very complex works, this one utterly failed to connect one thought to the next, much less one chapter to the next. I ...more
Jacob Aitken
Oliver O'Donovan (hereafter OO) meticulously sets forth the case for the Rule of Christ in contemporary society. Unlike modern-day authors who like a vague notion of "kingship" because it sounds like something Jesus might have said, OO develops a thorough biblical theology of "God's rule" and then applies it to tough situations.

1. Kingship is mediated through "judgment," "Law-keeping/giving," and "salvation." To "judge is to bring the already-present distinction between the righteous
Whatever else one can say about O’Donovan’s political proposal, this work is an excellent recovery of an intellectual tradition. It cannot, then, really be evaluated without his anthology (A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought: From Irenaeus to Grotius), which serves as something of a companion piece to this volume. Many of the ancient authors that O’Donovan confronts or interacts are found in that large volume. It is not merely a recovery for a high medieval tradition, but in the traditio ...more
Feb 27, 2014 Philip marked it as to-read
Mentioned in Living at the Crossroads, by Michael W. Goheen and Graig G. Bartholomew.
A sort of City of God for the modern era. Difficult (as always), deeply scriptural in a way that attempts to take in the whole scope of scripture as a narrative, Christological, and by turns inspiring, frustrating, intriguing, generative (as always). I certainly don't agree with everything O'Donovan suggests in this book - but he recovers and defines an argument worth having (profitably read in combination with the reader in political theology he edited with his wife).
Amazing and thought-provoking book, though pretty challenging for me too. This book has paragraphs that, ideally, would be entire books in their own right, and then maybe I would understand them better. But there are some really indispensable thoughts here as well.
Brittany Petruzzi
Stirring political theology.
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Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought 100-1625 Begotten or Made The Just War Revisited Common Objects of Love: Moral Reflection and the Shaping of Community; The 2001 Stob Lectures

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