William Placher has chronicled the whole history of Christian theology, from its background in the history of Israel to the various modes of liberation theology in the late 20th century. Moreover, this book has touched almost all of the important bases and has dealt with significant figures, is sues and movements in an incisive and illuminating manner. This intellectual history, a story of people and their ideas, is a delight to read, and could be widely used in colleges, seminaries, and even by lay institutes or study groups.
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Review 1 for A History of Christian Theology
Date:January 22, 2008
To begin with, I am not a theologian or even a biblical scholar. Hence, as to these professional issues, I am certainly out of my league. As a general introduction to a long history spanning 2000 years, this does bring forth some of the highlights within a historical context. It also provides a lot of references at the end of each chapter that someone serious about learning the history of their faith would need to gather more of the necessary depth.In the places where I have studied Western civilization to some basic depth to comment, I did feel that some matters were glossed over rather lightly. This may be a complaint that far better experts than I would raise; as history is more of a hobby for me. I realize that a one semester course in seminary cannot be expected address both matters of history and theology in all their complexities. Few people in general care much about history see how little we have changed in many thousands of years. Nevertheless, I might have liked to have at least seen an acknowledgment (or a footnote) that those matters existed. Better that than to feel, well, let's pretend it isn't there.Nevertheless, as a single book to help give a person (student) a framework on the subject, I did learn some things I should have known a long time ago. For example, that Hegel was a theologian. In all my philosophy and history courses, that tiny little fact was carefully extracted from all discussion. So I can certainly thank Placher sincerely for mentioning that infinitesimally small little fact.Since many Christians in the pews (and certainly me in particular) seem largely ignorant of both history and theology, I would recommend this as a very readable and informative book. Since I borrowed a copy from someone else, I decided to buy my own so I could mark it up.