Preview Response

Flourishing / Theology

Oliver O’Donovan

Professor Emeritus, Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, University of Edinburgh

Honorary Professor, School of Divinity, University of St. Andrews


The concern to identify a normative concept of flourishing is admirable. There could be more connection made between “flourishing” and the traditional theological discussions of beatitudo, usually rendered “happiness”, sometimes “blessedness”. Such a connection could have the effect of widening the basis of discussion in Scripture, since blessing is a major theme in the Psalms and the wisdom books. Though the discussion could pick up major works almost anywhere in the tradition, one very formative one was Augustine’s City of God 19, which tackled the relation between Christian and pagan concepts of happiness and raised the question of whether there were immanent grounds of happiness in worldly existence or whether the concept must be a transcendental one.