Alister E. McGrath
Alister E. McGrath
About This Book
"The genius of Alister E. McGrath is his remarkable ability to write in a clear, concise, and lucid manner that draws both teachers and students to participate with the great thinkers of the Christian tradition, past and present. Education and illumination are the abundant fruits of this massive, well-organized text, which is sure to appeal to a wide range of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox audiences. For this we are indebted to the author."
Dennis Ngien, Professor of Systematic Theology, Tyndale University College and Seminary, Toronto, Canada
"For sheer comprehensiveness, clarity, and coherence, Alister McGrath has produced the definitive textbook. Always accurate and engaging, students are gently introduced to the gift of Theology in a memorable way."
Ian S. Markham, Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary
Praise for the fifth edition
"Alister McGrath has proven himself a master at engagingly and simply introducing Christian theology in all of its contested complexity. All who work at the critical appropriation of the theological tradition stand in debt to McGrath."
M. Douglas Meeks, Cal Turner Chancellor Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School
Now celebrating its 25th year of publication, Christian Theology is one of the most internationally acclaimed textbooks in this area today. Completely rewritten for the sixth edition, it remains the ideal introduction to the beliefs and interpretation of Christianity. It is specifically designed for students with no prior knowledge, presenting the primary themes and debates of Christian theology with clarity and historical context.
This new edition retains all the elements that have made it so successful while also including significant additions and developments. There is an increased discussion of contemporary theology to complement the excellent coverage of historical material. Important new information has also been added, in areas such as the Holy Spirit, contemporary non-Western theologies, and feminist voices in Christian theology. The text is rich in pedagogy to encourage student learning, featuring a two colour design, glossary, end-of-chapter discussion questions, and much more. Written by renowned theologian Alister E. McGrath, this classic text is a clear, lively and concise introduction that provides instructors with the tools they need to engage with their students on Christian theology.
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Periods, Themes, and Personalities of Christian Theology
With regard to theology, we cannot be in the church without taking responsibility as much for the theology of the past as for the theology of our own present day. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Luther, Schleiermacher and all the others are not dead but living. They still speak and demand a hearing as living voices, as surely as we know that they and we belong together in the church.
- the patristic period, c.100–c.700 (chapter 1);
- the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, c.700–c.1500 (chapter 2);
- the Reformation and post-Reformation periods, c.1500–c.1750 (chapter 3);
- the modern period, c.1750 to the present day (chapter 4).
- the geographical location of centers of Christian thought;
- the main theological issues under debate;
- the schools of thought associated with theological issues;
- the leading theologians of the period, and their particular concerns.
The Patristic Period, c.100–c.700
The Early Centers of Theological Activity
- The city of Alexandria, in modern-day Egypt, which emerged as a center of Christian theological education. A distinctive style of theology came to be associated with this city, reflecting its long-standing association with the Platonic tradition. The student will find reference to “Alexandrian” approaches in areas such as Christology (the area of theology dealing with the identity and significance of Jesus Christ) and biblical interpretation (see pp. 115–16, 220–1), reflecting both the importance and the distinctiveness of the style of Christianity associated with the area.
- The city of Antioch and the surrounding region of Cappadocia, in modern-day Turkey. A strong Christian presence came to be established in this northern region of the eastern Mediterranean at an early stage. Some of Paul's missionary journeys took him into this region, and Antioch features significantly at several points in the history of the very early church, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Antioch itself soon became a leading center of Christian thought. Like Alexandria, it became associated with particular approaches to Christology and biblical interpretation. The term “Antiochene” is often used to designate this distinct theological style (see pp. 115–16, 200–1). The “Cappadocian fathers” were also an important theological presence in this region in the fourth century, notable especially for their contribution to the doctrine of the Trinity.
- Western North Africa, especially the areas of modern-day Algeria and Tunisia. In the classical period, this was the site of Carthage, a major Mediterranean city and at one time a political rival to Rome for dominance in the region. During the period when Christianity expanded in this region, it was a Roman colony. Major writers of the region include Tertullian (c.160–c.220), Cyprian of Carthage (died 258), and Augustine of Hippo (354–430).
An Overview of the Patristic Period
A Clarification of Terms
- The patristic period: This is a vaguely defined entity, often taken to be the period from the closing of the New Testament writings (c.100) to the definitive Council of Chalcedon (451).
- Patristics: This term is usually understood to mean the branch of theological study which deals with the study of “the fathers” (patres).
- Patrology: This term once literally meant “the study of the fathers,” in much the same way as “theology” meant “the study of God” (theos). In recent years, however, the word has shifted its meaning. It now refers to a manual of patristic literature, such as that of the noted German scholar Johannes Quasten (1900–87), which allows its readers easy access to the leading ideas of patristic writers and to some of the problems of interpretation associated with them.