In this thick volume, Kapic and Madueme have compiled a resource students of church history will find especially helpful. The editors recruited scholars from an array of traditions who confidently acquaint the reader to key figures and works from the church’s 2,000 years of theological reflection. While this volume does not include selections from the primary sources, it provides expert introduction and summary to the work of fifty-eight indispensable Christian theologians.
The book is split into five sections based on major periods (Early, Medieval, Reformation, 17th and 18th Centuries, and 19th and 20th Centuries). Each period is prefaced by an introduction that orients the reader to substantial theological developments and social movement during the era. Additionally, the editors have provided lists of other major works for each period that are not summarized in this volume. Finally, within each section, there are summary length treatments of what the editors discerned to be the essential books for making sense of Protestant theology today. As anyone making such decisions would, the authors lament having to choose “which genuinely important volumes to leave out” (p. 3. I should note that the editors acknowledge the limited set of readings from women and minority contained in this volume. They tease about the possibility of a companion volume titled Reading Christian Theology with Forgotten Voices.)
The final product is a book of immense worth to anyone who wishes to learn more from the depths of the communion of saints but doesn’t know where to begin. I will gladly return to this volume again and again as I try to make sense of Christian theology in this tumultuous season of church life. Professors in introductory theology classes could use these summaries in tandem with primary sources. And with good readability, the lay reader would be able to learn a great deal from the essays in this book. Let not the size of the book overwhelm you. Instead, let it remind you that we do not begin thinking on our own, but on the backs of all the witnesses who came before us. Thank God.
Reading Christian Theology in the Protestant Tradition, ed. Kelly M. Kapic & Hans Madueme, Bloomsbury Press, 2018.