Most helpful positive review
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Deep and wide...
on September 2, 2003
This collection, 'Readings in Christian Theology', is a very good volume for study as part of an introduction to theology, either formally as a course, or informally as part of a personal interest study, or perhaps a church-sponsored group study. Peter Hodgson and Robert King are veteran theology instructors, and as such know the importance of giving a wide-ranging overview of theology for basic instruction, both in terms of topics as well as in terms of authors.
In this volume, the reader will encounter voices spanning the two-thousand year history of Christianity, from early voices such as Gregory, Augustine, and Origen, to current theologians such as Ricouer, Cobb and Ruether and Hick. The span is likewise wide in terms of geography and denomination -- writers from the Eastern and Western traditions are represented here; writers Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant are present, as well as a healthy sampling from the days before such divisions were present.
While this is not a systematic theology text, the broad categories are arranged as if one were going to engage in a systematic study. The fourteen major topics are as follows: Theology (as in, what is theology?);p Scripture and Tradition; God; Revelation; Creation and Providence; Human Being; Sin and Evil; Christ and Salvation; The Church; The Sacraments; The Spirit and the Christian Life; The Kingdom of God and Life Everlasting; The Religions; and Alternative Visions of the Christian Paradigm.
Despite the breadth of readings, this is not intended as a definitive text on any topic or theologian, nor are the readings selected intended as representative samples of the theologians (though, in many ways, they serve as such). Writings were selected to the topics, as well as to complement another text, 'Christian Theology: An Introduction to its Traditions and Tasks', for which this text serves as a reader. This text will assume some insight into theological principles, so the novice will be well served to get a basic introductory theology text or at least a theology dictionary as a companion piece. However, the first chapter does a serviceable job setting context and task for the student and the generalist.
Theologians prominent in this collection include Schleiermacher, Barth, Tillich, Rahner, Hegel, Niebuhr, Kierkegaard, and Bultmann. Similarly, liberation theology is prominent in the study -- liberation theology has begun to take on a multi-faceted character, and the differing strands of liberation are evident here.
To study these texts is to gain an insight into the deepest wisdom that has informed the Christian tradition from its earliest days to the present, in all of its diverse incarnations. This is a good collection, a bit heavy going at times, but worthwhile for study and prayerful reflection. As Clark Williamson, professor of theology, once put it, 'The study of theology is itself a spiritual practice.' This text is a useful tool for the furthering of that practice.