This volume offers a rich and thought-provoking portrait, or series of portraits, of the virtues required to read the Old Testament well. Biblical scholar Richard Briggs provides an exegetical exploration of “interpretive virtue” by carefully reading five Old Testament passages that reflect core virtues: humility, wisdom, trust, charity, and receptivity. The result is an example of theological interpretation that demonstrates the interplay between text and reader. Briggs approaches the biblical text with academic rigor and precision while maintaining an openness to the formative intentions of the biblical writers.
The Logos Bible Software edition of The Virtuous Reader: Old Testament Narrative and Interpretive Virtue is designed to encourage and stimulate your study and understanding of the Bible. Scripture passages link directly to your English translations and original-language texts, and important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. In addition, you can perform powerful searches by topic and find what other authors, scholars, and theologians have to say about interpreting the Bible.
Situated in the Old Testament, though embracing the entire Christian canon, The Virtuous Reader breathes life into essential questions older than the rabbis and the church’s mothers and fathers. With sensitivity, the author invites us to consider those happy and healthy dispositions that Scripture itself elicits from those who would understand it. His learning is comprehensive, engaging not only ‘the usual suspects’ but also interpreters as varied as Wittgenstein and Mark Twain. Most important, by his gentle incisiveness Richard Briggs models the virtues of which he writes. A higher compliment than that I cannot render.
—C. Clifton Black, Otto A. Piper of Biblical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
This is a thorough-going, compendious critique of recent scholarship on readerly virtues as a condition of exegetical probity. Richard Briggs has given us ways to think coherently about achieving that trust in Scripture as Word of God that the text itself enjoins, yet without descending into a naivete that would undermine the ‘tough-minded’ critical virtues. A ‘state of the question’ study—and a contribution of great value.
—David Lyle Jeffrey, distinguished professor of literature and the humanities, Baylor University
A terrific book! Briggs significantly advances the conversations about biblical interpretation and Christian character through his rich exegetical studies and his philosophical and theological insights. This book should be read by biblical scholars, theologians, ethicists, and pastors alike.
—L. Gregory Jones, professor of theology, Duke University
Richard Briggs combines sophisticated theological hermeneutics with close attention to the biblical text and a probing interaction with the literature of biblical commentary, both ancient and modern. The result is immensely readable—fresh discussions leading to readings of the Old Testament that are both memorable and persuasive.
—Walter Moberly, professor of theology and religion, Durham University
This fascinating contribution focuses on the question, what kind of reader should we be in order to read the Bible well? Extremely well informed both about hermeneutics and philosophical conceptions of virtue, Briggs aims to show connections between the act of reading and the character of the reader. The Old Testament itself, he argues, not only implicitly projects an ideal virtuous character within its texts but also gives clues to the kinds of virtues expected of the reader. It is a most welcome addition to any scholarly and pastoral library on the Old Testament.
—Gordon McConville, professor of Old Testament theology, University of Gloucestershire
Richard S. Briggs is a lecturer in Old Testament and director of biblical studies at Cranmer Hall, St. John’s College, Durham University. He is the author of Words in Action: Speech Act Theory and Biblical Interpretation and Reading the Bible Wisely.