Saturday 16 June 2007

A book for each doctrine

Following my previous post, Andy Goodliff asks: if you had to choose one book for each major doctrine, what would you choose? And so he posts a list of one book for every doctrine.

I thought I’d attempt a similar list – but I found it impossible to choose just one, so I’ve expanded it to two books for each doctrine. Here are my suggestions (with no more than two books from a single author – otherwise, the whole list might be overrun by Barth and Pannenberg). Which books would you choose?

Theological method:
Eberhard Jüngel, God as the Mystery of the World (1983)
John Webster, Confessing God (2005)

Doctrine of God:
Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II/2 (1942)
Robert Jenson, The Triune Identity (1982)


David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite (2003)
Joseph Ratzinger, In the Beginning (1995)

Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus – God and Man (1964)
Kathryn Tanner, Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity (2001)

Wolfhart Pannenberg, Anthropology in Theological Perspective (1985)
Stanley Grenz, The Social God and the Relational Self (2001)

Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics IV/1 (1953)
Edward Schillebeeckx, Christ: The Experience of Jesus as Lord (1980)

Yves Congar, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, Vol. 1 (1983)
John Taylor, The Go-Between God (1972)

John Zizioulas, Being as Communion (1985)
Hans Küng, The Church (1967)

Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope (1964)
Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, Vol. 5 (1998)


Anonymous said...

Interesting list. One puzzle, though: given Jüngel's importance, how is it that GMW is out of print? In the US, one seldom sees even a used copy. Will it be re-translated, as with God's Being is in Becoming?

Anonymous said...

Method: Avery Dulles,The Craft of Theology (1995); John Howard Yoder, Preface to Theology: Christology and Theological Method (2002--but circulated privately for years); Arthur C. McGill, Suffering: A Test of Theological Method (1968; 1982).

Doctrine of God: Both volumes you name are excellent. I'd also include Elizabeth A. Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse(1992); Jurgen Moltmann's The Trinity and the Kingdom(1993); C. Norman Kraus, God our Savior(Repr., 2006).

Creation: Jurgen Moltmann, God in Creation(Gifford Lectures 1984-85); Langdon Gilkey, Maker of Heaven and Earth(1965;1985).

Christology: Jon Sobrino, Jesus the Liberator(1981); C. Norman Kraus, Jesus Christ Our Lord: Christology from a Disciple's Perspective(1987; repr.2002); Jurgen Moltmann, The Way of Jesus Christ(1993).

Anthropology: The Pannenberg work you give is indispensable, Ben. Cf. also, Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man, vol. 1: Human Nature(1941; 1963)R. Niebuhr's best work; Molly T. Marshall, What It Means to Be Human(1995); Michelle A. Gonzalez, Created in God's Image: An Introduction to Feminist Theological Anthropology(2007)--I just started this one and can already tell how good it is.

Providence (left out of Ben's list): E. Frank Tupper, A Scandalous Providence: The Jesus Story of the Compassion of God (Mercer Univ. Press, 1995)[I cannot recommend this book too highly.]; Langdon Gilkey, Reaping the Whirlwind: A Christian Interpretation of History (19760; G.C. Berkouwer, The Providence of God (1952).

Atonement (Ben probably means to inlcude this under soteriology, but I am listing it separately in order, of course, to add books!): Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor (1969); Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God(1974); Kenneth Grayston, Dying, We Live:A New Enquiry into the Death of Christ in the New Testament(1990); Paul Fiddes, Past Event and Present Salvation: The Christian Idea of Atonement (1989);J. Denny Weaver, The Nonviolent Atonement(2001).

Soteriology: I echo Ben's choice of Barth here. Cf. also, Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation (rev. ed., 1988); Leonardo and Clodovis Boff, Liberation and Salvation; J.Deotis Roberts, Liberation and Reconciliation: A Black Theology(1971).

Pneumatology: Ben is right: Congar is indispensable. Cf. also:
Molly T. Marshall, Joining the Dance: A Theology of the Spirit (2003); Jurgen Moltmann, The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation (2001); Gordon Fee, God's Empowering Presence (1994); James D.G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit (1974).

Ecclesiology: Miroslav Volf, After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (1998); Jurgen Moltmann, The Church in the Power of the Spirit (1977); Letty Russell, Church in the Round: Feminist Interpretation of the Church (1993).
Eschatology: Jurgan Moltmann, The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology (2004); James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Doctrine: Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, pp.64-189.

Fred said...

I second the reference to R. Niebuhr's The Nature and Destiny of Man - I'm happy to have recently discovered this brilliant work of theological anthropology.

Anonymous said...

Fred, I am a critic of R. Niebuhr on many things--as one might expect a pacifist to be of one of the foremost defenders of Christian "non-pacifism." But I was always blown away by vol. 1 of Nature and Destiny of Man.

David W. Congdon said...


I might be speaking too soon, but I have an inside source at Wipf & Stock who tells me that they are trying to get the rights to reprint. It may come to naught, but we can hope and pray. :)


Excellent list! I won't weight at the moment, only because I don't have much to add. I think instead of (or in addition to) Schillebeeckx under "salvation" I would place Hans Urs von Balthasar's Mysterium Paschale.

Anonymous said...

Doctrine of God: T.F. Torrance, Christian Doctrine of God (1996).

Anonymous said...

I didn't look at Andrew Goodliff's list until after replyin to Ben's. He included the doctrine of Scripture (I would stand by G.C. Berkouwer's Holy Scripture or Barth's The Word of God and the Word of Man) and the doctrine of sin (harmatiology). I confess that I don't know any powerful monographs on harmatiology and I tend to include it as a subpoint under theological anthropology (because the only humans I encounter are fallen ones; your mileage may vary). What's fascinating about this is, even though many of us walk around with mental outlines of theology texts (and how weird is that?), we still vary when asked to concoct these kind of lists--not just on the selections, but on the doctrines to include or omit. Fascinating.
I look forward to seeing others' contributions, especially D.W. Congdon's.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Michael. I myself don't tend to think of "sin" as a discrete doctrine -- but if I did, I'd probably be listing Berkouwer's great book on Sin (1971), as well as Alistair McFadyen's Bound to Sin (2000) or Marilyn McCord Adams' Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (1999).

Anonymous said...

Some great stuff here (including the comment section) - so much so that there's not a lot I'd think of adding.

On "sin" perhaps James Alison, The Joy of Being Wrong: Original Sin through Easter Eyes (1998).

On "scripture", it's not a full-blown doctrine of scripture as such, but as "a dogmatic sketch" (its sub-title), John Webster, Holy Scripture (2003) is a must-read in these days hermeneutical hegemony.

If "mission" were a category, David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission (1991) should surely head it, and I might include Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (1989).

And on "Christology", I think Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and CXriticism of Christian Theology (1973) is still de rigueur.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Kim. Actually, I was tempted to include "mission" as a category, just so I could mention Bosch's Transforming Mission! And you're right about christology, too: Moltmann's Crucified God (still his best book) really deserves a place. But it would have broken my heart to have excluded Kathryn Tanner from this list....

Daniel said...

Everything you suggest is really a lot of modern stuff. Anything older? no Church Fathers? no Middle Ages?

Anonymous said...

All of those books are going on my wedding list!

Halden said...

Tanner's a good theologian, certainly, but I really don't think she deserves a place in this list. But that's just me. Gunton's Yesterday and Today would make a better choice in my opinion. Or Yoder's The Politics of Jesus.

Ben, I'm also surprised you included Grenz, given your not-so-social trintarian status. Care to share on why he made the list?

Ben Myers said...

Yes, Halden, you're right: Grenz was a reluctant inclusion. To be honest, I just couldn't think of another really significant recent book on theological anthropology -- I certainly couldn't think of anything that deserved a place next to Pannenberg. (Of course, there is Barth's magnificent CD III/2 -- but I didn't want to put too much Barth in the list!)

Anonymous said...

Good to see Ratzinger's book on creation.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Daniel: "Anything older? no Church Fathers? no Middle Ages?"

Yes, I limited it to modern stuff just to make it a manageable list. But of course some of the earlier works are still far richer than most of these modern ones -- e.g. Athanasius on christology; Augustine on the Trinity; Thomas Aquinas on creation; Calvin on ecclesiology; Luther on theological anthropology....

Daniel said...

I figured thats why, just wondering aloud.

Anonymous said...

Ben, you follow Augustine in your understanding of the Trinity? I've always struggled with him on that issue, as it seems he depersonalizes the Spirit, making God Binitarian, not Trinitarian in nature.

Why do you think Augustine "gets" the Trinity the best?

Ben Myers said...

Hi Derek -- No, I don't think Augustine "gets" the Trinity best; I think there are enormous problems in his conception. But in spite of that, I still think his work on the Trinity remains one of the richest and most profound accounts.

In Augustine's case, it's not just a question of whether he's right or wrong. We inhabit his thought; he possesses us (for good or ill). The limits and possibilities of our own thinking are still to some extent defined by Augustine's theological imagination; much of the "grammar" of our theological speech is due to him.

So even when he's wrong, his work remains far more important than any of the latest fads (and I say that with no lack of admiration for the latest fads!) -- by understanding him we begin to understand ourselves.

derek said...

Hi Ben, thanks for the clarification. I see your point. As my graduate prof now says, "regardless of your opinion of Augustine, you have to wrestle with him." I think that this is a healthy way to view it. Sometimes Augustine wins, sometimes he doesn't (most of the time for me he loses), but we can't ignore him. That is the gravest error of all.

I continually learn how much a twenty-first century, born and bread Kansan can be so indebted to a 5th century African Theologian. It's pretty amazing to think about really.

Regardless, i'm glad to hear your not on board with his Trinitarian thought. However, i've noticed that you are also pretty skeptical of the "social trinity" understanding. So i have to ask: what do you actually think? If you've already blogged about it, just tell me where to find it. No need to rehash. If not, i hope you will share.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Derek. Well, my own approach to the Trinity is especially shaped by people like Barth, Jenson, Jüngel and (especially) Pannenberg. In case it's helpful, there's an earlier post on the Trinity here.

Anonymous said...

My books for all the topics are the Bible and the collected works of the Fathers. (wink)

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