Here’s a successful introduction to the study of theology by the revered scholar Anthony Thiselton. He has written major commentaries and highly-respected theological works including the companion volume Approaching Philosophy of Religion. With that body of work, Thiselton is the perfect candidate to write this type of overview to help students before they dive into larger theological tomes.
The Introduction introduces readers to the great categories of theology: the doctrine of God, humankind, human alienation from God, Jesus Christ: Redeemer, Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit, and the church and sacraments. You might call them by different names, but these are the great categories of doctrine. Broad and brief, this section makes for a great review. The rest of the introduction is taken up with a history of theology from the church fathers through modern times. You might quibble over what’s left out versus what got in, but again it works as an introductory overview.
Part one discusses approaches to theology in nine categories. This will help students realize the many angles by which theology can be approached. Some are obvious like biblical theology, hermeneutical theology, historical theology, and systematic theology while others like political theology and theology of religions are not so well-known.
Part two looks at concepts and issues and shows us how fragmented the study of theology has become. It strikes me as along the lines of the good, the bad, and the ugly, but a student needs to understand these concepts that show up throughout the scholarly world.
The final part is a discussion of key terms in alphabetical order. This section is wonderful for browsing or reference. You might define certain words differently, but again, this section perfectly works as an overview for students.
Thiselton continues a prodigious output in his later years. You almost wonder if he’s reflecting on his career and writing to fill in where he feels there are gaps. In any event, he has succeeded in giving us a quite handy volume here.
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