Friday 3 February 2006

Things to read before college

Rory Shiner has posted a list of books for students to read before commencing theological studies. Naturally most people won’t begin to do this kind of reading until they’re already in the midst of (or until they’ve completed!) their theological studies. Nevertheless, if I were to offer a list of 25 books to read before beginning theological study, my list would probably look something like this (ordered alphabetically):

* Rainer Albertz, History of Israelite Religion in the OT Period (2 vols.)
* Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline
* Karl Barth, Evangelical Theology: An Introduction
* Richard Bauckham, God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the NT
* Günther Bornkamm, Jesus of Nazareth
* Martin Buber, I and Thou
* Rudolf Bultmann, “New Testament and Mythology” (essay)
* Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the NT (2 vols.)
* Gerhard Ebeling, Problem of Historicity in the Church and Its Proclamation
* Robert Jenson, Story and Promise
* Ernst Käsemann, Jesus Means Freedom
* Hans Küng, The Church
* Alister McGrath, Making of Modern German Christology
* Bruce Metzger, Text of the NT: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration
* Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God
* Wolfhart Pannenberg, “Dogmatic Theses on the Doctrine of Revelation” (essay)
* Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus—God and Man
* Gerhard von Rad, OT Theology (2 vols.)
* Karl Rahner, The Trinity
* E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism
* Friedrich Schleiermacher, Brief Outline on the Study of Theology
* Udo Schnelle, History and Theology of the NT Writings
* Albert Schweitzer, Quest of the Historical Jesus
* Anthony Thiselton, Two Horizons: NT Hermeneutics and Philosophical Description
* John Webster, Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch

Admittedly I’m imagining here a very committed person who has a lot of spare reading-time, and access to a theological library. Which books or essays would be on your list?


Chris Tilling said...

Yes, I really like this list.

I wonder, though, if not a little more on the Apostle Paul would be helpful. Perhaps, Dunn's The Theology of Paul the Apostle?

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

I second that. Very good list. I think I'd probably go more classical on the Trinity, probably supplanting Rahner's Trinity with St. Augustines'. However, still to be included would be Rahner's Foundations of Christian Faith.

Probably something by von Balthasar would be helpful too-perhaps portions of his Explorations or Elucidations.

More on the liturgy would be important - maybe Theologia Prima: What is Liturgical Theology.

Also, for pneumatology, gotta go with Congar's monumental I Believe in the Holy Spirit.

Something strong on the resurrection too, I suppose: N.T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God?

I also tend to think it quite important to cover well the existence and attributes of God. Either part I of the Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas or maybe Charnock's book.

It would also be quite useful, I think, for the would-be student to read the decrees, canons, and creeds of the first 7 General Councils of the Church, all the way through Nicaea II. This helps to give some undergirding to much the Trinitarian theology and especially Christology to be explored by later generations in the Church.

I think all of these important areas should probably supplement your already fine list. If not the specific works mentioned, then these categories of contemporary theology are themselves important to cover to some extent. I could only wish that I read all these works (including the ones you mention) either before or during my own theological studies, but such was not the case. Oh well, no time like the present to make up for lost time, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that so many of the books recommended are among the books I read before and during my theological training over 25 years ago - i.e. that they haven't become tombstones to when I died theologically!

JKC's additions begin to suggest how wide the field of "theological studies" is - and not just confessionally! History of the Early Church? Patristics? Reformation (surely now Diarmaid MacCulloch's magisterial Reformation)? Pastoralia? The various kinds of liberation theologies? Etc. And what about a place for Hans Küng's Does God Exist?

But keeping to the area of your own list, Ben (and to modernise it a bit) I'd want to add Walter Brueggemann's Theology of the Old Testament, Richard B. Hays' The Moral Vision of the New Testament, and George Lindbeck's The Nature of Doctrine. I think I'd wait til a student had settled in before I intimidated her with John Milbank's Theology and Social Theory!

T.B. Vick said...

Ben States:
"Naturally most people won’t begin to do this kind of reading until they’re already in the midst of (or until they’ve completed!) their theological studies."

No kidding! These works are a bit weighty for someone to read before college. This is more of a list for theology departments to give 3rd year undergrad students to prep them for grad school.

T.B. Vick said...

BTW - has anyone read John P. Meier's work titled A Marginal Jew and if so, is it worth reading?

Isaac M. Alderman said...

I think a few have commented that this list is too heavy for someone before they begin the study of theology. If someone told me they were thinking about studying theology, i would suggest A History of Christian Thought (either by Tillich or by Justo Gonzalez) and Leo Davis' First Seven Ecumenical Councils. All of these deal both with church history and the issues that shaped that history (such as christological and trinitarian controversies).

Fred said...

Christianity Rediscovered— by Donovan (Orbis) He was a missionary to the Massai in Africa;
Threefold Garland by Balthasar (it's his mini-summa);
Models of the Church by Dulles

Anonymous said...

As a German I feel very honored to find so many of "us" on your list. But I would surely recommend Germans to read more N.T. Wright (Jesus and the Victory of God) than good old Bultmann. You could include Schweitzer (Historical Jesus) for Bornkamm and Bonhoeffer (Discipleship) in the list. And what about Käsemann on Romans?

Greetings from frozen Germany,


Chris TerryNelson said...

To throw a few Scots into the mix, I would advocate The Person of Jesus Christ by H.R. Mackintosh, a smaller book that gets at the heart of Mackintosh's larger work: The Doctrine of the Person of Jesus Christ (T.F. Torrance does the foreward, since Mackintosh was his mentor in seminary). Also, Once and For All: A Confession of the Cross by Tom Smail is an excellent intro to the atonement. Alan Torrance used it in his first-year theology class with us at St. Andrews, and I think he knows Tom from the days back at King's College, London.

Ben Myers said...

Thanks to all of you for these excellent responses.

Rory Shiner said...

Great list! Much more European than mine. If someone rocked up to College having read all these, they'd be a theological Ninja!
I reckon a good book to get people from a non-humanities background a helping hand is John Carroll's The Wreck of Western Civilization. It's idiocyncratic, but very interesting.

Fat said...

This is a list that might be helpful circulated to those who are entering a period of discernment about entering ministry.

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