Reading for Aspiring Theologians

(rev. 4/27/2005)

Recently a colleague asked me to imagine I were an Oxford tutor. Which ten texts would I choose for a bright undergraduate to study and discuss (in the English tradition)? Here is my evolving draft of such a list. Its various degrees of difficulty, which skiers will recognize ( ), aim to offer flexibility for students with differing degrees of prior exposure to theology.

N.B. As I am not a tutor at Oxford (or I would have used a European rather than American color code system), you should take these recommendations accordingly.

1. One of the following basic overviews:

John H. Leith, Basic Christian Doctrine.
James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Doctrine.
Catechism of the Catholic Church.

2. One of the following guides:

David F. Wright, ed., New Dictionary of Theology.
Alan Richardson, ed., Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology.
Colin Gunton, ed., Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine.
E.A. Livingstone and F.L. Cross, eds., Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.
Adrian Hastings, ed., The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought.

3. One of the following ancient theologies or summaries:

Augustine, Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love.
Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography.
Thomas F. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith.

4. One of the following histories:

Roger E. Olson, The Story of Christian Theology.
Richard Harries and Henry Mayr-Harting, eds., Christianity: Two Thousand Years.
Robert A. Cunliffe-Jones, ed., A History of Christian Theology.

5-6. Two of the following systematics:

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion.
Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline and Selections from the Church Dogmatics.
Francis Schussler-Fiorenza and John P. Galvin, Systematic Theology, 2 vols.
Robert Jenson, Systematic Theology, (Triune God, Works of God), 2 vols.
James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Systematic Theology (Ethics, Doctrine, Witness), 3 vols.
Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, 3 vols.

7. One of the following Christologies/eschatologies:

N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God.
Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil.
Walter Kasper, Jesus the Christ.
Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope.
Jurgen Moltmann, The Way of Jesus Christ.
Geoffrey Wainwright, Eucharist and Eschatology.
Hans Urs von Balthasar, Mysterium Paschale.

8. One of the following on method:

Fergus Kerr, Theology After Wittgenstein, 2d ed.
Brad Kallenberg, Ethics as Grammar: Changing the Postmodern Subject.
R.R. Reno, In the Ruins of the Church: Sustaining Faith in an Age of Diminished Christianity.
Telford Work, Living and Active: Scripture in the Economy of Salvation. (Hey, I'm not above assigning my own stuff.)

9. One of the following revisionist theologies:

Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation.
Rebecca Chopp and Mark L. Taylor, Reconstructing Christian Theology.
Major J. Jones, The Color of God.

10. One of the following ecclesiologies:

Lesslie Newbigin, The Household of God.
Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (text on-line).
Miroslav Volf, After Our Likeness.

11. One of the following liturgies or liturgics:

Book of Common Prayer.
Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology.