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Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought

Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought

Alister E. McGrath

ISBN: 978-0-631-20844-0

May 1998, Wiley-Blackwell

416 pages


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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How to Use this Book.


The Concept of 'Theology': A Brief Introduction.

The Architecture of Theology.

Biblical Studies. Systematic Theology.

Philosophical Theology.

Historical Theology: Its Purpose and Place.

Part I: The Patristic Period, c.100 - c.451: An Overview of the Patristic Period:.

A Clarification of Terms.

Key Theologians.

Justin Martyr.






Key Theological Developments.

The Extent of the New Testament Canon.

The Role of Tradition.

The Fixing of the Ecumenical Creeds.

The Two Natures of Jesus Christ.

The Doctrine of the Trinity.

The Doctrine of the Church.

The Doctrine of Grace.

Key Names, Words and Phrases.

Case Studies:.

1. The Bible and Tradition.

2. The Arian Controversy: The Divinity of Christ.

3. The Alexandrian Christological School: The Apollinarian Controversy.

4. The Antiochene Christological School: The Nestorian Controversy.

5. The Trinity.

6. The Donatist Controversy.

7. The Pelagian Controversy.

8. Faith and Philosophy.

Part II: The Middle Ages and the Renaissance, c.500 - 1500: The Birth of the Middle Ages:.

The Origins of Monasticism.

The Rise of Celtic Christianity.

A Clarification of Terms.

Middle Ages.



Realism and Nominalism.

The Modern Way.

The Modern Augustinian School. Humanism.

Northern European Humanism.

Swiss Humanism.

French Humanism.

English Humanism.

Key Theologians of the Period.

Anselm of Canterbury.

Thomas Aquinas.

Duns Scotus.

William of Ockham.

Erasmus of Rotterdam.

Key Theological Developments of the Period.

The Consolidation of the Patristic Heritage.

The Exploration of the Role of Reason in Theology.

The Development of Theological Systems.

The Development of Sacramental Theology.

The Development of the Theology of Grace.

The Role of Mary in the Scheme of Salvation.

Returning Directly to the Sources of Christian Theology.

The Critique of the Vulgate Translation of Scripture.

Byzantine Theology.

Key Names, Words and Phrases.

Case Studies:.

1. Arguments for the Existence of God.

2. Understandings of the Atonement.

3. Discussion of the Sacraments.

4. The Interpretation of the Bible.

5. Renaissance Humanism and the Bible.

6. Some Themes in Late Medieval Scholastic Theology.

Part III: The Reformation and Post-Reformation Periods, 1500 - 1750:A Clarification of Terms:.

The Lutheran Reformation.

The Calvinist Reformation.

The Radical Reformation.

The Catholic Reformation.

Key Theologians.

Martin Luther.

John Calvin.

Huldrych Zwingli.

Key Theological Developments.

The Sources of Theology.

The Doctrine of Grace.

The Doctrine of the Sacraments.

The Doctrine of the Church.

Post-Reformation Movements.

Protestant Orthodoxy.

Roman Catholicism.



Key Names, Words and Phrases.

Case Studies:.

1. Bible and Tradition in the Reformation.

2. Justification by Faith: Martin Luther and the Council of Trent.

3. The Nature of the Real Presence: Luther, Zwingli and the Council of Trent.

4. The Doctrine of the Church: Trends within Protestantism.

5. Theology and Astronomy: The Copernican and Galilean Debates.

Part IV: The Modern Period, 1750 - The Present Day:.

The Rise of Indifference to Religion in Europe:.

Christianity in North America: The Great Awakening and the American Revolution.

The Watershed in Europe: The French Revolution.

The Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment and Protestantism.

The Enlightenment Critique of Christian Theology: A General Overview.

The Impact of Pietism.

The Enlightenment Critique of Christian Theology: Specific Issues.

The Possibility of Miracles.

The Notion of Revelation.

The Doctrine of Original Sin.

The Problem of Evil.

The Status and Interpretation of Scripture.

The Identity and Significance of Jesus Christ.

Western Theological Movements since the Enlightenment.



Liberal Protestantism.




Black Theology.



Evangelicalism and Charismatic Movements.

The Growth of Christianity in the Developing World.

Latin America: Liberation Theology.

South-East Asia.


The South Pacific.


Key Names, Words and Phrases.

Case Studies:.

1. The Quests of the Historical Jesus.

2. The Basis and Nature of Salvation.

3. The Debate over the Resurrection.

4. The Trinity in Twentieth-Century Thought.

5. Twentieth-Century Discussions of the Doctrine of the Church.

6. The Attributes of God in Process Theology.

7. The Feminist Critique of Traditional Christian Theology.

8. Christian Approaches to Other Religions.

9. Theological Method in the Modern Period.

What Next?.

A Glossary of Theological Terms.

For Further Reading.

Sources of Citations.


"This approach is very well-pitched for the intended readership, particularly those who are teaching themselves. Historical Theology is an excellent resource, both for the teacher and student." Morwenna Ludlow, St John's College, Oxford

"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

Additional Resources - Introduction
Quiz - Introduction
Quiz Answers - Introduction
Slides - Introduction
Additional Resources - Chapter 1
Quiz - Chapter 1
Quiz Answers - Chapter 1
Slides - Chapter 1
Additional Resources - Chapter 2
Quiz - Chapter 2
Quiz Answers - Chapter 2
Quiz - Chapter 2
Slides - Chapter 2
Additional Resources - Chapter 3
Quiz - Chapter 3
Quiz Answers - Chapter 3
Slides - Chapter 3
Additional Resources - Chapter 4
Quiz - Chapter 4
Quiz Answers - Chapter 4
Slides - Chapter 4
* Presents the study of theology from an historical point of view.

* Includes numerous case studies illustrating the main theologians and theological events for each historic period.

* Contains suggestions for further reading and glossaries throughout.