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4 Stars Out Of 5
A Good Introduction
December 31, 2010
McGrath's goal was to provide "an introduction to the history of Christian thought" and he ably succeeded in this task with a well researched and objective presentation of this complex and often controversial topic. Faced with the daunting task of packing almost two millennia into only 343 pages, McGrath has chosen to limit the breadth of this work to only the most significant names and concepts in order to provide adequate space for historical background material, extended quotations from primary sources and focused case studies that allow the reader to dig more deeply into those significant names and concepts. Therefore, this work would be useful as an undergraduate textbook or a general introduction for someone who has no background in either church history or historical theology. Tony Lane's book (A Concise History of Christian Thought) provides greater breadth at the expense of historical background material, making it a better choice for someone with extensive knowledge of ecclesiastical history but not theological history. Yet, McGrath corrects many common misperceptions and provides an extensive bibliography for further study, so veterans and neophytes alike will find Historical Theology quite profitable.
Excellent layout (narrative summaries followed by case studies with textual extracts).Particularly good coverage of modern Theological trends.However a bit spotty elsewhere. Not a single mention of the Dutch Theologian Jacob Arminius. In dealing with the nature of the Eucharist, McGrath provides good, balanced coverage of Transubstantiation (Fourth Lateran Council), Consubstantiation (Luther) and the thing that is signified is effected by the sign (Calvin). But, he short shrifts Ulrich Zwingli in not mentioning a single example of the innumerable passages in Scripture where the word is means signifies. My recommendation? Read McGrath for his excellent coverage of modern trends. Read Roger Olsons The Story of Christian Theology for the rest.