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The Desire of the Nations Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology by Oliver (University of Oxford) O'Donovan

The Desire of the Nations Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology


The Desire of the Nations Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology by Oliver (University of Oxford) O'Donovan

Political theology as we know it today reacts against the attempt to insulate theology from political theory which has generally characterised the modern era. But its own intellectual parentage in the idealist historicism of the nineteenth century has left it still entrammelled in the suspicions and inhibitions from which it has wanted to break free. Oliver O'Donovan contends that to pass beyond suspicion and totalised criticism of politics and to achieve a positive reconstruction of political thought, theology must reach back behind the modern tradition, achieving a fuller, less selective reading of the Scriptures and learning from an older politico-theological discourse which flourished in the patristic, medieval and Reformation periods. Central to that discourse was a series of questions about authority, generated by Jesus' proclamation of the Kingdom of God. This book, now published in paperback, makes an important contribution to contemporary political theology and Christian ethics.


'Above all ... it is the book's ability to stimulate and enrich debate about the shape of a Christian political ethic which emerges most clearly ...'. Studies in Christian Ethics 'O'Donovan's masterful work should be read by everyone interested in the daunting complexities of the political theology of Israel, Christendom, and now post-Christendom.'
Theological Studies

'... a powerful argument by a subtle thinker. The Desire of the Nations is a serious book to which anyone interested in questions of theology and politics must attend.'
The Review of Politics

'There are real insights on almost every page into the history of politics and religion and the book is written with great confidence and certainty.'
Scottish Journal of Theology

'... the author has presented us with a substantive statement of the postmodern political meaning of the Christian faith. The book should be read.'
The Princeton Seminary Bulletin

'This is a substantial exercise in 'political theology'. The argument is highly distinctive: it is a defence of the idea 'christendom'. Most of the book is a dense and difficult discussion of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. To his credit he does attempt to grapple with the historical critical method and takes seriously the views of the Biblical scholars. ... All libraries will have to purchase this text ...'. Theological Book Review'

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Book Info

Publication date

29th July 1999


Oliver (University of Oxford) O'Donovan

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Cambridge University Press


320 pages


Christian theology



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