Friday, July 10, 2015

Theological Studies Reading List

Thinking about studying theology? Wondering what books to read in order to prepare? Then check out these practical, brilliant, but also highly accessible books that were especially important for my academic theological journey over the last five years of graduates studies:

1) Theology: The Basics (Alister E. McGrath): This was recommended as a preparation book for my first theology class, and it proved to be immensely useful. McGrath is a respectable and well-known historical theologian who offers a very readable overview of the basic components of Christian systematic theology.

2) A Handbook of Theological Terms (Van A. Harvey): Before my first semester at Claremont School of Theology started, I received an email from the school that had a list of recommended books for new students - and this was at the top of the list, for good reason. This is an extremely helpful text that is filled with basic terms that you will want to know as a theologian-in-training.

3) A New Handbook of Christian Theologians (Joseph Musser, Donald Price [ed.]): There are so many books out there that provide overviews of Christian theologians, but this one has always been my favorite. I love the format, which typically has a younger theologian write a brief summary of a more established theologian, and the selection of theologians that it covers is fantastic (process, liberation, evangelical, feminist, black, radical, neo-orthodox, Catholic, etc).

4) Philosophy and Theology (John Caputo): This is not only a great introduction to the crucial debates about the relationship between philosophy and theology ("What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"), but it also gives a good sense of postmodern theological trends, particularly from a deconstructive/continental perspective.

5) Transforming Christian Theology (Philip Clayton): When I started seminary, I was deeply concerned about the Emergent Church movement, having previously been a part of an emerging church for a number of years. Clayton was one of my teachers at Claremont, and he wrote this timely book with an eye on the emergent-mainline church conversation. For any progressive/post-evangelical Christian who cares deeply about the future of the church, this is essential reading.

6) God: A Brief History (Paul Capetz): Because theology just is the study of the nature of God, or "God-talk," this little book by one of my former teachers is essential reading for any aspiring theologian who wants a historical overview of the debates over the last 2000 years about what we talk about when we talk about God. You will get a great perspective on the debates about the trinity, the development of liberal and neo-orthodox theologies, existentialism, process theology, and liberation theologies.

7) Divinity and Diversity (Marjorie Suchocki): Although there are many ethical and political issues that contemporary Christians must address, religious pluralism is certainly an important challenge that must be considered by theologians today. Suchocki presents an extremely accessible and brilliant Christian theology of pluralism that must be taken seriously.

8) Quest for the Living God (Elizabeth Johnson): Written by one of my favorite living theologians, this is a beautifully written text that will familiarize readers with some of the most important trends in contemporary theology, including feminist, black, liberation, pluralist, ecological, and trinitarian theologies.

9) On the Mystery (Catherine Keller): This is an excellent introduction to process and postmodern theology, as well as the growing field of theopoetics - and not to mention, it is written by my doctoral advisor at Drew University. In a sense, this is Keller's mini-systematic theology, which includes her reflections on theological method, God, creation, Jesus, and eschatology.

10) God of the Oppressed (James Cone): Certainly one of the most timely theology books on this list, Cone remains one of our most important theologians, and this is a great way in to his work. While almost any of his books are worth reading, this one remains my favorite.

What did I miss? Feel free to add your own suggestions to this list of books, or even to tell me why I'm wrong about my choices.

No comments:

Post a Comment