Historical Theology - An Introduction to theHistory of Christian Thought 2e
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Freshly updated for this second edition with considerable new material, this authoritative introduction to the history of Christian theology covers its development from the beginnings of the Patristic period just decades after Jesus's ministry, through to contemporary theological trends.
  • A substantially updated new edition of this popular textbook exploring the entire history of Christian thought, written by the bestselling author and internationally-renowned theologian
  • Features additional coverage of orthodox theology, the Holy Spirit, and medieval mysticism, alongside new sections on liberation, feminist, and Latino theologies, and on the global spread of Christianity
  • Accessibly structured into four sections covering the Patristic period, the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the reformation and post-reformation eras, and the modern period spanning 1750 to the present day, addressing the key issues and people in each
  • Includes case studies and primary readings at the end of each section, alongside comprehensive glossaries of key theologians, developments, and terminology
  • Supported by additional resources available on publication at www.wiley.com/go/mcgrath


ALISTER E. MCGRATH is the Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion & Culture at King's College London, having previously been Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Oxford. He is one of the world's leading Protestant theologians and has long been involved in theological education. McGrath is also the author of some of the most widely used theology textbooks, including the bestselling Christian Theology: An Introduction(2010, Wiley-Blackwell), now in its ???fth edition. He is in constant demand as a speaker at conferences throughout the world.


How to Use this Book xii

Introduction 1

The Concept of “Theology”: A Brief Introduction 1

The Architecture of Theology 4

Biblical studies 5

Systematic theology 6

Philosophical theology 7

Pastoral theology 7

Church history 8

Historical Theology: Its Purpose and Place 8

The development of historical theology 9

Historical theology as a pedagogic tool 11

Historical theology as a critical tool 12

Historical theology as a resource for systematic theology 14

1 The Patristic Period, c.100–451 16

A Clarification of Terms 17

Difficulties in Approaching Patristic Theology 17

The Historical Background to Patristic Theology 18

The historical importance of the city of Rome 19

The problem of persecution 19

The conversion of Constantine 20

The development of public theological debate 21

Centers of Theological Reflection 22

Key Theologians 22

Justin Martyr 22

Irenaeus of Lyons 24

Origen 24

Tertullian 24

Athanasius 25

Augustine of Hippo 25

Key Theological Developments 26

The relation of Christian faith and classical culture 26

The extent of the New Testament canon 27

The role of tradition 28

The fixing of the ecumenical creeds 29

The two natures of Jesus Christ 30

The doctrine of the Trinity 32

The doctrine of the church 32

The doctrine of grace 33

Key Names, Words, and Phrases 35

Questions 35

Case Studies 36

1.1 The Bible and tradition 36

1.2 The Arian controversy: The divinity of Christ 41

1.3 The Alexandrian Christological school: The Apollinarian controversy 46

1.4 The Antiochene Christological school: The Nestorian controversy 49

1.5 The Trinity: Early developments and controversies 53

1.6 The church: The Donatist controversy 62

1.7 Grace: The Pelagian controversy 67

1.8 Faith and philosophy 73

2 The Middle Ages and the Renaissance, c.500–1500 77

On Defining the “Middle Ages” 78

Medieval Theological Landmarks in Western Europe 80

The Carolingian renaissance 80

The rise of cathedral and monastic schools of theology 80

The religious orders and their “schools of theology” 82

The founding of the universities 82

Peter Lombard ’ s Four Books of the Sentences 83

The Rise of Scholasticism 84

The Italian Renaissance 84

The Rise of Humanism 85

Medieval Theological Landmarks in Eastern Europe 86

The emergence of Byzantine theology 87

The iconoclastic controversy 87

The hesychastic controversy 87

The fall of Constantinople (1453) 88

Key Theologians 88

John of Damascus 88

Simeon the New Theologian 89

Anselm of Canterbury 90

Thomas Aquinas 90

Duns Scotus 91

William of Ockham 92

Erasmus of Rotterdam 92

Key Theological Developments 93

The consolidation of the patristic heritage 93

The exploration of the role of reason in theology 94

The development of theological systems 95

The development of sacramental theology 95

The development of the theology of grace 95

The role of Mary in the scheme of salvation 96

Returning directly to the sources of Christian theology 96

The critique of the Vulgate translation of Scripture 97

Key Names, Words, and Phrases 98

Questions 98

Case Studies 98

2.1 Arguments for the existence of God 98

2.2 Understandings of the atonement 104

2.3 The theology of the sacraments 109

2.4 The interpretation of the Bible 112

2.5 Renaissance humanism and the Bible 115

2.6 Augustinianism and Pelagianism in late medieval theology 118

3 The Reformation and Post-Reformation Periods, 1500–1750 124

Reformation – or Reformations? 125

A Clarification of Terms 126

The German Reformation – Lutheranism 127

The Swiss Reformation – the Reformed church 128

The radical Reformation – Anabaptism 129

The English Reformation – Anglicanism 129

The Catholic Reformation 130

Protestant Orthodoxy 131

Post-Reformation Movements 133

The consolidation of Catholicism 133

Puritanism 134

Pietism 135

Key Theologians 136

Martin Luther 136

Huldrych Zwingli 137

John Calvin 137

Teresa of Avilà 138

Teodore Beza 138

Johann Gerhard 138

Roberto Bellarmine 139

Jonathan Edwards 139

Key Theological Developments 139

The sources of theology 140

The doctrine of grace 140

The doctrine of the sacraments 141

The doctrine of the church 141

Developments in Theological Literature 141

Catechisms 142

Confessions of faith 143

Works of systematic theology 144

Key Names, Words, and Phrases 146

Questions 146

Case Studies 146

3.1 Bible and tradition in the Reformation debates 146

3.2 Justification by faith: Protestantism and the Council of Trent 154

3.3 The nature of the real presence: Luther, Zwingli, and the Council of Trent 164

3.4 The debate over infant baptism 167

3.5 The doctrine of the church: Trends within Protestantism 171

3.6 Theology and astronomy: The Copernican and Galileian debates 177

4 The Modern Period, 1750 to the Present Day 182

A Cultural Watershed: The Enlightenment 184

The Enlightenment Critique of Christian Theology 184

The notion of revelation 185

The status and interpretation of the Bible 185

The identity and significance of Jesus Christ 185

The doctrine of the Trinity 186

The critique of miracles 186

The rejection of original sin 187

The problem of evil 187

Romanticism and the Critique of the Enlightenment 187

The Crisis of Faith in Victorian England 189

Postmodernism and a New Theological Agenda 190

Key Theologians 192

F. D. E. Schleiermacher 193

John Henry Newman 193

Karl Barth 193

Paul Tillich 194

Karl Rahner 194

Hans Urs von Balthasar 194

Jürgen Moltmann 195

Wolfh art Pannenberg 195

Some Recent Western Theological Movements and Trends 195

Liberal Protestantism 196

Modernism 198

Neo-orthodoxy 199

Ressourcement , or, la nouvelle théologie 201

Feminism 202

Liberation theology 204

Black theology 206

Postliberalism 207

Radical orthodoxy 209

Key Names, Words, and Phrases 209

Questions 210

Case Studies 210

4.1 The quests of the historical Jesus 210

4.2 The basis and nature of salvation 221

4.3 The debate over the Resurrection 233

4.4 The Trinity in twentieth-century thought 239

4.5 Twentieth-century discussions of the doctrine of the church 245

4.6 Natural theology and the rationality of faith 252

4.7 The feminist critique of traditional Christian theology 256

4.8 Christian approaches to other religions 259

Where Next? 269

Details of Theologians 271

A Glossary of Theological Terms 276

For Further Reading 288

Sources of Citations 292

Index 297


“HISTORICAL THEOLOGY is a great book for seminary students or any just interested in theology. McGrath covers a lot of material in a relatively short book, and he keeps it interesting throughout."   (Tom-farr.blogspot.com, 1 August 2013)


“Praise for the previous edition”

"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

“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 ... As one already hooked on historical theology, this reader found her interest renewed and expanded numerous times by McGrath’s book.”  The Journal of Religion (of the previous edition)