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Self, World, and Time takes up the question of the form and matter of Christian ethics as an intellectual discipline. What is it about? How does Christian ethics relate to the humanities, especially philosophy, theology, and behavioral studies? How does its shape correspond to the shape of practical reason? In what way does it participate in the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Oliver O'Donovan discusses ethics with self, world, and time as foundation poles of moral reasoning, and with faith, love, and hope as the virtues anchoring the moral life. Blending biblical, historico-theological, and contemporary ideas in its comprehensive survey, Self, World, and Time is an exploratory study that adds significantly to O'Donovan's previous theoretical reflections on Christian ethics.
Oliver O'Donovan is a fellow of the British Academy andprofessor emeritus of Christian ethics and practical theologyat the University of Edinburgh. His other books includeThe Desire of the Nations, The Ways of Judgment,and Resurrection and Moral Order.
"Undoubtedly one of the most important books to have been written in the field of Christian ethics in recent times. . . . Highly recommended to all those with an interest in the future of theological ethics."
-- Duke Divinity School
"Writing with a clarity that comes from a lifetime of reflection, Oliver O'Donovan here gives us an account of practical reason that shows why and how ethics is at the beginning, middle, and end of a theological work. I suspect this book is destined to become a classic because few authors are as capable as O'Donovan in combining wisdom and erudition. We are in his debt."
-- University of Virginia
"In this volume O'Donovan challenges how we do ethics, and what we say of ethics, across the board, from alpha to omega. The book is brief but elegant, erudite, judicious, its proposals matured by decades of reflection on what ethics can and cannot do. Its poetically dense, richly thought-provoking style invites one to leisurely reflection. After reading the first paragraph I was intrigued; halfway through the second I was hooked. You will be too: taste and see."
-- University of Nottingham
"In this splendidly dense yet lucid first volume of his new project, Oliver O'Donovan richly succeeds in re-connecting a neo-orthodox stress upon dogma with an earlier pietist stress upon personal formation. We are thereby inducted into a stance where vision and commitment, belief and action become fully inseparable. O'Donovan realizes that such an integral theology is what responsibility requires of us in the face of a double threat to our planet and to our humanity."
-- Clare Hall, Cambridge
"The achievement of Self, World, and Time lies, to my mind, in its much welcome purism: it is bright theology and moral theology, and moral theology as biblical theology. The well-known sin of moral theology, since the Latin Middle Ages, has been its philosophical proclivities. . . . O'Donovan has written one more contribution to a non-philosophical theological ethics. This may be his best contribution to it. In any case, it is a splendid book."
Studies in Christian Ethics
"This short book is enormously generative, and we in the field are indebted to O'Donovan for so pithy a summation of his own approach to the shared task of Christian ethics, for it awakens us all to a sharper sense of how, why and what we do."
"Throughout the book one finds a clear desire to balance theological and philosophical ethics, and a recurring call to the hard thought that alone gives rise to appropriate normativity. For the scope of the book's engagement with modern philosophical and theological ethical thought alone, one would be well advised to read it."
Choice (American Library Association)
"Written against the author's background of deep study in the development of moral theology and sure knowledge of philosophical ethics, this book has a poetic, flowing, informal character to its style. . . . O'Donovan provides a refreshing new look at the relation of faith to moral action and to love, drawing out previously undeveloped implications of Reformation theology. . . . One looks forward to the second and third volumes in this important series. Recommended."
"An achievement for many reasons. One, despite its extremely dense prose, it is remarkably clear. Two, the book's message is timely and urgent. . . . Finally, O'Donovan is immensely learned, and the reader will benefit from his interactions with other theologians and philosophers who precede him. . . . I am sure we will benefit richly from the fruits of O'Donovan's lifetime of learning."
Times Literary Supplement
"The book's depth, intricacy and subtlety testify to decades of theological reflections."