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Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought [Paperback]

By Alister E. McGrath (Author)
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Item description for Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought by Alister E. McGrath...

One of the world's leading theological teachers introduces readers to the study of theology from an historic point of view. Building on the chapters in "Christian Theology: An Introduction", McGrath expands his previous work by including numerous case studies that allow readers to engage more fully with a particular topic of historic debate.

Publishers Description
In this text, Alister McGrath utilises the successful historic chapters from Christian Theology: An Introduction, Second Edition and builds on them to provide all the material that students will need to understand the development of Christian theology from its beginnings.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wiley-Blackwell
Pages   388
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.74" Width: 6.68" Height: 1.23"
Weight:   1.64 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 18, 1998
Publisher   Wiley-Blackwell
ISBN  0631208445  
ISBN13  9780631208440  

Availability  0 units.

More About Alister E. McGrath

Alister E. McGrath Alister E. McGrath is Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford. One of the world's leading theologians, he has written numerous critically acclaimed books, including The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis (Wiley, 2013), Why God Won't Go Away: Engaging the New Atheism (2011), and Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology (Wiley, 2011). He is also the author of some of the most widely used theology textbooks, including the bestselling Christian Theology: An Introduction now in its fifth edition (Wiley, 2010).

Alister E. McGrath currently resides in Oxford. Alister E. McGrath was born in 1953 and has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Oxford, King's College, London, UK King's College London.

Alister E. McGrath has published or released items in the following series...
  1. 2009 Gifford Lectures
  2. Aedyn Chronicles
  3. Blackwell Brief Histories of Religion
  4. Blackwell Manifestos (Paperback)
  5. Heart of Christian Faith
  6. Scientific Theology
  7. Study in the Foundation of Doctrinal Criticism

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought?

Very Good  Apr 30, 2007
Very good text book. Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought
A good trip through the history of ideas...  Jul 27, 2004
There are many ways to study theology -- topically, by denominational structure, by particular theologians, etc. One of the more common approaches, and still a popular one, has been to study theology through the historical development of ideas, beliefs and doctrines. Alister McGrath's book, 'Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought' is one such text. Following a brief introduction, it is divided into four broad historical sections: The Patristic Period (100 - 451), the Middle Ages and Renaissance (500 - 1500), the Reformation and Post-Reformation (1500 - 1750), and finally, the Modern Period (1750 - the present).

In his introduction, McGrath traces the various sources and types of theology - biblical studies, philosophy, pastoral issues, and church history all provide insights into this. The development of historical theology as a discipline began in the Reformation era, when it became important to understand not only the doctrines and dogmatic principles of the church, but also how they came to be developed and instituted. Historical theology is an important pedagogic and critical tool, useful for creating a greater understanding of our present situations.

McGrath's chapters on the Patristic and Middle Ages periods look at the wider church ideas, developments of the creeds, canon of scripture, and early ecclesial structures along with the development of key ideas and key theologians. In addition to this, McGrath presents case studies, which include the various historical heresies (Donatism, Pelagianism, etc.) and various philosophical problems (arguments for the existence of God). Included here are discussions of the impact of Celtic Christianity and monastic institutions on the overall development of theology.

After these periods, into the Renaissance, Reformation, Post-Reformation and Modern periods, the book is predominantly Western in outlook. Beginning with Scholasticism and the philosophical Humanism of the Renaissance beginning to influence general intellectual life inside and outside of the church, McGrath continues with the various Reformations (not all were the same), including the Catholic Reformation (often termed the Counter-Reformation). The influence of the Enlightenment and theological movements since then include a long list of -isms, including Feminism, Marxism, Modernism and Postmodernism, Postliberalism, Romanticism, Liberal Protestantism, and Evangelicalism (among others!). Case studies in these include the key controversies of ideas in the Reformation, quests for the Historical Jesus, political influences in the theological debates, and the growing influence of the two-thirds world on the theological scene.

McGrath's final case study is on the issue of method in theology in the modern period -- the starting point as well as the purpose is continually questioned, and McGrath highlights issues drawing from Schleiermacher, Tillich, Rahner, Barth, Lindbeck and Guttierez. Immediately following this (indeed, this section could be the beginning of another book, a companion to this text), McGrath addresses the issue of 'Where next?' for the student and reader. McGrath includes an extensive list of suggested further readings, divided by period, topic, and other helpful groupings.

McGrath is a good writer and educator -- this book is accessible to most readers, not assuming a great background in history, philosophy or theology; however, the more background one has, the better the experience of reading this book. It is a survey, which means it does not go into great detail, but it does include a fairly thorough introduction to all of the major and many of the side issues of theology through the 2000 years of Christian history.
Seminary Student  Feb 14, 2003
I have to read this book for my church history class and I have found it to be a very good resource. The author presents the material in a highly readable format but it is not immature writing either. There are brief explanations about key figures throughout the churches history and these help you relate theologies with their proponents. This is a well written book that is highly insightful.

Well written
Based on historical documents
Very in-depth

Not for personal reading

Excellent for study of historical theolgoy  Dec 21, 2002
McGrath is a leading scholar in our day, and this book shows why. While obviously very informed in his area of study, his writing is alive and easily accessible to the reader just wading into the study of historical theology. There are excerpts of original writings from different issues in church history, all of which are framed by McGrath's helful explanation, summary, and commentary. Definitely worth having.
You've got a year of historical theology coming up, and you've already got a sinking feeling. All those "-ologies": Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology... All those "-isms": Arianism, Pelagianism, Apollinarianism, Docetism and so on... All the councils, creeds and synods (not to mention the infamous Diet of Worms)... That's before you even get to the Middle Ages and all those infamous philosophical arguments for the existence of God, let alone the Protestant Reformation.

If you're going to be working with McGrath, you can relax. The structure of the book is ideal. Each major period begins with a gently-paced and highly readable narrative which for many readers' purposes will be all that is required. But each such chapter is followed by one or more "case studies" in which the principles and arguments of each of the major theological issues of the period are analyzed in greater depth.

A key strength of the book is that the main characters (Jerome, Augustine, Luther and the like) are allowed to speak in their own words - just enough to introduce you to the real spirit of their thought but not enough to bog you down in archaic language. In fact most of them come across as far more lucid and down to earth than you might expect.

Another useful technique is the way tiny boxed biographies of the major players are repeated when their names come up. It saves the reader flicking back and forth to refresh his or her memory, and thus greatly speeds up the assimilation of knowledge.

The downside of this method is that you tend to get a feeling of "deja vu" from time to time, as the same explanation may turn up in longer or shorter forms two or three times, as you move from the general background to the specific case-study and onto the biography. However this is not a serious objection, and it is simply the inevitable by-product of a highly effective teaching technique.

A more serious issue is that the author has drawn large sections of this book from his larger overview of Christian Theology. This was evidently a deliberate policy, but if you have the original book you will not find sufficient new material to justify the purchase price.

Finally this is not a general church history - this is an important distinction - but in the area of Christian doctrine it ranks as an outstanding resource for the serious student or for the general reader...


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