How ought we to read? In The Virtuous Reader: Old Testament Narrative and Interpretive Virtue, Richard Briggs argues there ought to be a balance between reader and text that allows "the reader to work on the text at the same time as the text works on the reader." The relationship between reader and text should be held in a tension, where both parties feed into, make demands, and fundamentally challenge, one another. Briggs believes the relationship between reader and text requires a morally virtuous interaction (virtuous in the classical sense) before a text can be read. In this book, Briggs wants to put this hermeneutic "in play" by applying it to specific OT texts and then developing an appropriate interpretation of the selected text.Briggs wants his left to know what his right hand is doing and therefore does not only postulate a basic hermeneutic--he uses it to produce a refined interpretation within the context of the Christian theological tradition. Therefore, we should not make the mistake of thinking this book a hermeneutical exposition. It is not. As much as Briggs thinks about the abstract, his goal is to apply his "virtuous methodology" to specific Old Testament texts to illuminate how they imply the role of the virtuous reader in the text and consequently demonstrate his hermeneutic.Texts include Numbers 3.12; 1 Kings 3; 2 Kings 18-19; Ruth 1; and Isaiah 6.
Biblical interpretation expert Richard S. Briggs presents a rich and thought-provoking portrait, or series of portraits, of the kind of character most needed to be a good reader of the Old Testament. He highlights the moral character or virtues most appropriate to the varied tasks of reading the Old Testament, provides insight on theological interpretation, and examines five ways the Old Testament improves our ability to read Scripture well. Briggs also offers a defense of "interpretive virtue" and includes case studies of the Old Testament's shaping of the virtues of humility, wisdom, trust, love, and receptivity.
Richard S. Briggs (PhD, University of Nottingham) is director of biblical studies and hermeneutics 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.