Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought 1st Edition
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"Perhaps for the first time an expansive and ecumenical survey of Christian Theology has been produced that can be read with the same ease as a serious but gripping novel... This book will serve as an invaluable tool: it locates theological innovation and controversy in its context-specific situation." G.W.P. McFarlane, London Bible College
"The book clearly would be useful in undergraduate courses, as well as in introductory seminary ones. McGrath's prose is clear and precise. He is very good at articulating distinctions between concepts... Historical Theology would be a valuable reference book to have in one's library. It would certainly be helpful when preparing to teach survey courses requiring a component of history of theology, especially for those periods of which one has only cursory knowledge... As one already hooked on historical theology, this reader found her interest renewed and expanded numerous times by McGrath's book. Historical Theology should be able to accomplish its primary purpose, that is, to introduce newcomers to 'historical theology as an important and interesting subject'." Jane E. Strohl, The Journal of Religion
From the Back Cover
Historical Theology provides all the material that students will need to understand the development of Christian theology from its beginnings. A substantial introduction by McGrath explains the importance of historical theology, its place within the study of Christian theology as a whole and outlines some of the best ways of studying it.
The book features numerous case studies illustrating the main theologians and theological events for each historical period, enabling the reader to engage fully with a particular topic of debate. It also provides its readers with full glossaries of key theologians, key theological developments, and key names, words and phrases, together with an extensive bibliography.
- Publisher : Wiley-Blackwell; 1st edition (May 18, 1998)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 388 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0631208445
- ISBN-13 : 978-0631208440
- Item Weight : 1.58 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.8 x 1.22 x 9.72 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,249,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Based on historical documents
Not for personal reading
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Each part is subdivided into an initial overview section, followed by more detailed but very selective explanations. Thus he `begin[s] by painting a scene using some very broad brush strokes, and then filling in the fine detail in selected areas...'. This makes for a great aid to essay writing as you can quickly dip into the initial overview sections while more detailed discussions can be extracted from the later `case studies' sections too.
As the next reviewer notes below, one excellent aspect in `Historical Theology' is the frequent quoting of original authors in very digestible chunks and translations. For instance, pages 88 and 89 offer a couple of paragraphs each (not just a line or two) from the second century theologians Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria. We are also offered frequent reminders of who each theologian is in mini-biographies (e.g. `Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215). A leading Alexandrian writer, with a particular concern to explore the relation between Christian thought and Greek philosophy.') The use of different fonts, italics, indentations and shaded or bordered textboxes make this an easy title to navigate too.
As also noted below, there is much repetition here. I found this quite irritating as many lines of text, frequently whole paragraphs - and at least one near complete page! - is lifted from one section and copied verbatim to another. Surely such a successful and popular author and publishing house can arrange for better editing!
And: `The book makes use of some material already presented in the best selling work `Christian Theology: An Introduction' (quoted from page xii).' Again, surely a best selling author can commit himself to writing an original work, not producing essentially the same book under two separate titles?
Theology is a vast and complicated subject but McGrath's presentation of it is both palatable and informative. I'm a big history fan anyway so the idea of dividing Christian theology chronologically naturally appeals and seems completely logical. Since there are only 345 pages before the indexes, we can assume that there are many important issues not tackled here - like eschatology (or the `End Times') for instance - but that would add pages and cost. (To investigate all the main Christian theological issues, see Millard Erickson's excellent and inexpensive `Christian Theology' - all 1300 pages of it!).
Criticisms aside, this is still a good and useful book: McGrath strikes a good balance between content and size and makes the whole very accessible. A star is deducted for annoying repetition (and taking advantage of customers?).