Item description for A History of Apologetics by S.J. Avery Cardinal Dulles...
Overview Making the case for the Christian faith-apologetics-has always been part of the Church's mission. Yet Christians sometimes have had different approaches to defending the faith, responding to the needs of their respective times and framing their arguments to address the particular issues of their day. Cardinal Avery Dulles's A History of Apologetics provides a masterful overview of Christian apologetics, from its beginning in the New Testament through the Middle Ages and on to the present resurgence of apologetics among Catholics and Protestants. Dulles shows how Christian apologists have at times both criticized and drawn from their intellectual surroundings to present the reasonableness of Christian belief. Written by one of Catholicism's leading American theologians, A History of Apologetics also examines apologetics in the 20th and early 21st centuries including its decline among Catholics following Vatican II and its recent revival, as well as the contributions of contemporary Evangelical Protestant apologists. Dulles also considers the growing Catholic-Protestant convergence in apologetics. No student of apologetics and contemporary theology should be without this superb and masterful work.
Publishers Description Making the case for the Christian faith--apologetics--has always been part of the Church's mission. Yet Christians sometimes have had different approaches to defending the faith, responding to the needs of their respective times and framing their arguments to address the particular issues of their day.
Cardinal Avery Dulles's "A History of Apologetics" provides a masterful overview of Christian apologetics, from its beginning in the New Testament through the Middle Ages and on to the present resurgence of apologetics among Catholics and Protestants. Dulles shows how Christian apologists have at times both criticized and drawn from their intellectual surroundings to present the reasonableness of Christian belief.
Written by one of Catholicism's leading American theologians, "A History of Apologetics" also examines apologetics in the 20th and early 21st centuries including its decline among Catholics following Vatican II and its recent revival, as well as the contributions of contemporary Evangelcal Protestant apologists. Dulles also considers the growing Catholic-Protestant convergence in apologetics. No student of apologetics and contemporary theology should be without this superb and masterful work.
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Studio: Ignatius Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 1.1" Weight: 1.35 lbs.
Release Date Aug 30, 2005
Publisher Ignatius Press
ISBN 0898709334 ISBN13 9780898709339
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Reviews - What do customers think about A History of Apologetics?
An Excellent Overview of Apologetics Feb 11, 2006
Cardinal Dulles' overview of Christian Apologetics is quite thorough and deserves to be looked at in the present age. The task of apologetics is always one which presents much difficulty, for the relationship between faith and reason is one which always tries to maintain its balance while apologetics can sometimes tip the scale entirely toward reason while depriving faith of its gracious nature. However, when one is trying to truly define apologetics, it is most excellent to have a historic overview to see the true development of it throughout history. From this, one can then surmise the high and low points of apologetical work and then march forth in a more fully formed understanding of how the Faith is to be defended.
I do not doubt that many readers will appreciated that Dulles does not approach inner-Christian polemic apologetics. Instead, he tries to retain a spirit of presenting it as a defense to the world and as a whole. History is littered with such polemic arguments between Protestants and Catholics, Catholics and Orthodox, etc. He does not deny that these exist but does not wish to even open that road up. He instead wants to outline the currents of thought in Christian apologetics to the world from various views.
The footnotes for the text are absolutely wonderful. The reader is given the chance to see many different sources to further their investigation of apologists of their choice. I think that the primary aim of this text is just that. It introduces the reader to the generalities of apologists throughout history and opens the door to deeper investigation.
Although it does seem that much of the East is not given heavy treatment, I cannot respond greatly to this, as I am not as familiar with the general currents of the Orthodox communities. Nevertheless, when it is possible, Dulles does speak of eastern theologians. Perhaps the role of Eastern theology since the break in the West would be helpful. It seems that Dulles concentrates on Protestant and Catholic apologetics only after that point.
Overall, I suggest this text as a great introduction to the history of Christian apologetics. It provides a full picture from which the reader can proceed to further reflection.
Quality Makes Up For Uneven Coverage Oct 1, 2005
Avery Dulles (son of John Foster) is a distinguished American theologian. A convert to Roman Catholicism, he was the first American priest named a Cardinal on account of his contributions to theology (putting him in the rank of distinguished European theologians such as Henri de Lubac, Jean Danielou and Hans Urs von Balthasar.)
A HISTORY OF APOLOGETICS may be the only work available in English that surveys apologetics (that is the defense of the Christian faith) from the New Testament to contemporary times. Dulles treats both Catholic and Protestant thinkers, although the emphasis is on Catholic ones. For example, Calvin and Luther get a combined total of about five pages, which is the same as the eccentric Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
This emphasis is particularly noticeable when Dulles gets to contemporary Protestantism. Cornelius van Til and Gordon Clark are rather uncritically grouped together in spite of their legendary dustup in the 1940s. Neither gets nearly as much space of liberals such as Bultmann, Tillich and the brothers Neibuhr. For those who have been introduced to apologetics through studying orthodox Protestants, this part of the book will be a disappointment.
I was also surprised that Cardinal Dulles didn't discuss Eastern Orthodox thinkers. What about Berdyaev, or more recent thinkers such as Fr. Seraphim Rose or Nicholas Arseniev?
The above limitations shouldn't detract from the value of this work. The discussion of apologetic controversies in France from 1600-1800 is worth the price of the book.
Dulles' A HISTORY OF APOLOGETICS Has Been Updated Jul 13, 2005
The this site reviews of Cardinal Dulles' A HISTORY OF APOLOGETICS point to what the reviewers regard as a deficiency in the 1971 edition, lack of an adequate treatment of Evangelical Protestant apologists of the second half of the 20th century. The REVISED and UPDATED edition just published by Ignatius Press expands the treatment of 20th century apologists, including Evangelical Protestant apologists, as well as apologetics in the post-Vatican II era and the New Apologetics Movement among Catholics.
Outstanding Analysis of the History of Christian Apologetics Apr 27, 2005
What can present day Christian apologists learn from the apologetic masters of the past? The answer is undoubtedly quite a lot, but unfortunately works that carefully catalogue the history of Christian apologetics are quite rare. This rarity is likely due to the fact that the author of such a work must possess substantial scholarly competence in several academic fields, including theology, philosophy, history, culture, and even science.
Filling a real need in this area is the recent reprint of Avery Dulles's book A History of Apologetics that was first published in 1971 but was unfortunately out of print for many years. Because Dulles's book is arguably the most substantial book of its kind (at least available in English), the reprint deserves a fresh review for students of apologetics who are unfamiliar with its content.
Jesuit scholar Avery Dulles has been a leading American Catholic theologian over the past half century, and was recently made cardinal, a rare honor for an essentially academic scholar. His background and astute awareness of Catholic theology, philosophy, and church history combined with his familiarity with Protestant thought aptly prepare him for such a work.
The aim of the book is straightforward and clear. The author tells "the story of the various ways in which thoughtful Christians, in different ages and cultures, have striven to `give a reason for the hope that was in them..." (p. xvi) Dulles divides the book into six chapters, corresponding to six consecutive eras of Christian thought: (1) Apologetics in the New Testament, (2) The Patristic Era, (3) The Middle Ages, (4) From the 16th through 18th Centuries, (5) The 19th Century, and (6) The 20th Century. Each chapter is chalked full of people, ideas, and apologetic arguments and is therefore worthy of a chapter-by-chapter summary in this review.
Chapter one discusses the type of the apologetic material that appears in the New Testament (specifically in the four Gospels, the Book of Acts, and in the Pauline and general epistles). Dulles explains that this materials centers on the person, nature, mission, and Messianic ministry of Jesus Christ and highlights Christ's fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and His miracles, especially the resurrection. Dulles states that while the Gospel's are more concerned with telling the story about Christ, that is preaching rather than defending their claim, nevertheless the Gospels contain important apologetic material.
Chapter two addresses the patristic era or the period of the church fathers which extends roughly from the second through the fifth centuries A.D. During this period Christian apologists first engaged the officials of the Roman Empire in a plea for tolerance, but later the focus turned to distinguishing the faith from Judaism and confronting the ubiquitous paganism of the classical Greco-Roman world. The apologetic contributions of eight major Greek and Latin Christian thinkers are assessed, including Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen , Tertullian, Ambrose, Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius, and Augustine. Dulles also discusses nine lesser-known Christian thinkers who in varying degrees make important contributions the developing Christian apologetic enterprise.
Chapter three covers the medieval period or the middle ages which covers nearly a one thousand year period of church history from the sixth through the fourteenth centuries. Dulles suggests that the apologetic focus of this era was largely threefold. First, there was a need to revive intellectual culture hurt by the so-called "dark ages" (the eclipse of classical culture). Second, religious pluralism came to the fore as Christian Europe was forced to address the growing religious, intellectual, and military challenge posed by Islam. Third, there was the pressing need to explore the proper relationship between faith and reason. Dulles surveys the apologetic theories of such medieval luminaries as Anselm, Peter the Venerable, Peter Abelard, Bonaventure, John Duns Scotus, and Thomas Aquinas.
Chapter four evaluates the general apologetic thinking set forth from the 16th through the 18th centuries, which covered the broad sweep of time and events from the Protestant Reformation to the Catholic Counter Reformation to the Enlightenment period. Dulles views this period as posing serious challenges to Christian truth-claims, and by the Enlightenment resulting in a general inability of Christian thinkers to effectively turn the tables on their critics as they had in other eras. Dulles catalogues the apologetic thought of both leading Protestant and Catholic thinkers, including: Martin Luther, John Calvin, Robert Bellarmine, Blaise Pascal, John Locke, Joseph Butler, William Paley, and Gottfried Leibniz, among others.
Chapter five explores the post Enlightenment period of the 19th century. In response to Immanuel Kant and others this period saw a shifting on the part of some Christian thinkers away from an overly rational and objective apologetic toward a strong emphasis upon inner subjective religious experience. This period also brought the scientific challenge of Darwinian evolution as well as the challenge of higher critical theories concerning the origin and development of the Bible. Dulles summarizes the thought of such major thinkers as Friedrich Schleiermacher, Georg Hegel, Søren Kierkegaard, and John Henry Newman, and many other lesser known apologists and theologians.
Chapter six provides an overview of the apologetic development of the first half of the 20th Century touching on the emergence of Catholic modernism, Protestant liberalism, and biblical fundamentalism. Dulles surveys the though of such influential thinkers as Maurice Blondel, Teilhard de Chardin, Karl Rahner, Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and Paul Tillich.
All in all Dulles's work is an impressive piece of scholarship. It has many appealing qualities to those interested in Christian apologetics. Consider the following five positive features of the book.
(1) Dulles does a masterful job of succinctly summarizing the life, key writings, and apologetic concerns and arguments of literally dozens of Christianity's major and minor apologists through the centuries. In a fair manner he evaluates the various apologists in terms of their apparent strengths and weaknesses. This evaluation often includes an evaluation of the apologists theological and philosophical sophistication, the logical coherence of arguments, exegetical skill, originality, writing style and tone, and sometimes even Christian character. He also on various occasions summarizes the works and basic arguments of some of Christianity's foremost critics through the centuries (e.g., Celsius, Porphyry, Julian, Averroes, Kant, Voltaire).
(2) The sheer number of thinkers that Dulles carefully surveys in his book is impressive. The reader will be exposed to virtually all of Christianity's important apologists of the past.
(3) Dulles effectively surveys the various historical eras and in so doing identifies central apologetic themes as well as evaluates apologetic strategy, development, and success. He notes how the apologetic enterprise evolved through the centuries depending upon the challenging cultural / intellectual zeitgeist (spirit of the age). This book would serve well in a Christian course on the history of ideas or in philosophy of religion.
(4) Dulles for the most part writes in a quite readable style and often breaths life into some obscure figures of the past, this is especially true of his handling of the ancient church fathers. Though dealing with a lot of technical material, the author keeps a pretty good pace so the reader will not get bogged down or overwhelmed, though the first three chapters are more readable than the last three.
(5) This book is a rich resource in terms of excellent notes, bibliography, and indexes.
In terms of the book's weaknesses, its biggest drawback is that it is somewhat dated. Dulles's survey of apologetics ends in the middle of the 20th century, just after World War II. Thus the vast majority of important contemporary evangelical apologists are omitted or are dealt with superficially (as in the case of Benjamin Warfield and C.S. Lewis). It would be stimulating to hear Cardinal Dulles's assessment of the apologetic works of more current evangelical thinkers such as Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark, John Warwick Montgomery, Norman Geisler, Ronald Nash, Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, Hugh Ross, and Alvin Plantinga.
Another minor weakness is that while Dulles usually works quite hard at being objective and even handed (avoiding stating his own views) his commitment to Catholicism does show through at times (but then again whose wouldn't) in his evaluation of various apologetic methods and conclusions. Worse still for conservative evangelicals, however, is that his criticism of several ancient apologist's defense of Scripture is tainted by his own acceptance of certain higher critical theories concerning the Bible (e.g., his rejection of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and his no doubt late dating of various Old Testament books).
Regardless of the weaknesses, this is an excellent treatment of the history of Christian apologetics by an insightful and fair scholar. Every serious student of Christian apologetics should study the content of this book and discover how just much the apologetic masters of the past have to teach the apologists of today. This is especially true of many contemporary evangelical Christians who seem almost oblivious to the important facts and lessons of Christian history.
Splendid Excursion Aug 6, 2001
With luxuriating readability and marvelous conciseness, Cardinal Dulles offers a splendid excursion through Christian Apologetics. From Paul and Augustine to men and women of the middle twentieth century, the reader becomes familiar with all the high points of religious and philosophic argumentation. For people interested in religious inquiry, this volume becomes the ultimate study guide from which to delve more deeply into the original texts. This is not "hardpan" reading, it is as smooth as silk.