Seeking What Is Right

The Old Testament and the Good Life

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Iain Provan
  • Waco, TX: 
    Baylor University Press
    , November
     500 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Peter Pettit forthcoming.


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.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

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 ScriptureConvenient 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.



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