Book Review: The History of Christian Thought

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Hill, Jonathan.  The History of Christian Thought. Downers Grove, Il: InterVarsity Press.  2003.

This book is a survey of Christian Thought, but more of Christian thinkers.  It is a history of the important theologians and writers who influenced Christianity, from the early Greek fathers to the end of the 20th Century(although it covers up to the late 20th C, it doesn't cover many specific thinkers past the 1970s).  Interspersed are short essays on the larger philosophical and political movements of the time, to provide a context for the religious thinking.

Despite, or perhaps because of the publisher, there is not much really said about the modern fundamentalist evangelical movement, but the coverage of the early fathers is quite good, explaining some of the earliest stages of the evolution of doctrine like the trinity.  One thing I am not able to judge is whether any important people were omitted, but it seems all the names I recognize were included.

One critical flaw in the book is a failure of editing.  There are multiple errors I caught in the text, including a paragraph that was printed twice, on pp. 102-103.  There is a more underlying flaw, and that is the way the sections on schools of philosophy, cities or other background information.  These are inset at gray boxes, which is a fine way to separate them from the text, but are simply dropped in the text, sometimes interrupting a sentence for 2 entire pages.  It is quite distracting, you either interrupt the topic at hand, or jump ahead and then jump back, neither being quite satisfactory.

Though the book is not footnoted at all, there is a good "further readings" section at the end, with both general purpose titles and more specific titles by category.  There is also a short glossary and an index, though a short cross reference of thinker to timeperiod would have been nice.

All told a good introduction to the foundational theologians of Christianity and though it doesn't quite delve into the current generation of thinkers, it provides a basis for understanding the evolution of Christianity that led to them.  A second edition, with some of the editorial issues remedied would be quite an excellent book


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This page contains a single entry by Aaron Macks published on August 29, 2010 3:56 PM.

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