Thursday, January 04, 2007

Reading tips?

I'm about to chose the very last book I need to exclude in my studies for my Ph.D, and I would like some tips on what that book should be.

It should be:
  • fairly recent (post 1980-ish)
  • immensely important, a future classic
  • deal with systematic theology
  • between 200 and 300 pages
  • I prefer originality to the kind of book that claims to offer the final version or overview of some ancient debate
It would be nice it the book in question would function as a kind of introduction to some area I'm not familiar with, so here's you chance to fill out those glaring blanks you have noticed in my postings.

So, what is the most important theological work of the last few decades then?


Ben Myers said...

Well, you've said before that you don't think Pannenberg is interesting or original -- which makes me think that you should re-read a bit of Pannenberg! ;-)

Alternatively, one of the best recent theological works is David Bentley Hart's The Beauty of the Infinite -- and you might find this especially stimulating, since it sharply (but good-humouredly) challenges the "tragic" flavour of your own theological perspective. Personally, I've been deeply impressed by Hart's book, especially his sections on the Trinity and the doctrine of creation.

Patrik said...

Well, I believe my problem with Pannenberg is that I have over-read him... I don't think you're supposed to read his system from cover to cover.

Thanks for the tip on Hart, I'll look into that.

Sandalstraps said...

I'm not much for systematic theology, so I can't be of much use to you there. However, there is an intimate connection between systematic theology and ethics, a fact first pointed out to me by Thielke's multi-volume Theological Ethics (which fails to meet your criteria).

To me the most interesting development to this end is found in Sallie MacFague's The Body of God, which looks at the ecological implications of an expanded theology of incarnation. It is quite original, and was published in 1993. I don't know how that fits in with the rest of what you're studying, but it is the sort of book that I think that everyone should read at least once.

Patrik said...

Thanks for the suggestion Sandalstraps... MacFague's book would be a possibility. I haven't read it though I have taken a course on feminist theology way back that featured it.

Sandalstraps said...


If it helps, I just posted on it. That should give you a better idea of what you're getting into if you choose to use it.

byron said...

I haven't read the Hart, but from what I've heard, I think Ben's suggestion is a good one.

Anonymous said...

I reviewed a short paperback recently. It may not become a future classic, but it's worth reading. It's 'The Logic of Renewal' by William J Abraham.
I suppose, in drawing your attention to it, I have in mind the question - In a shrinking universe' where we see so much 'decline', is there any hope of 'renewal'?

::aaron g:: said...

I’ve been reading Kevin Vanhoozer’s The Drama of Doctrine, which is more interesting than most evangelical theology.

Ben Myers said...

Yes, Vanhoozer is superb.

dan said...


Well, I know that my suggestions don't fit within the parameters provided by your "tips" but I've gotta say that if you're looking for some really ground-breaking theology, then you should look at Theology of the Old Testament by Walter Brueggemann, and Cruciformity: Paul's Narrative Spirituality of the Cross by Michael Gorman. Both books couldn't be categorised as "systematic" theology and both are too long (Brueggemann's book is more than twice as long as your 300pp limit!) but, holy hell, they are life-transforming books (and, since they would be considered works of "biblical theology," they do seem to fill out some of the apparent "blanks" in your posts).

Grace and peace.

Macrina said...

Have you read Sarah Coakley? Of course she may be too recent in that most of her recent works - even Powers and Submissions, which is well worth reading - are collections of essays. The first volume of her systematic theology is due to be appearing this year, I think.

I realise that this might make her totally unsuitable. But what I have read of her seems immensely promising, and in particular her integration of asceticism and prayer into the theological task...

Patrik said...

Thanks for the suggestion everyone! I will decide soon, and keep these suggestions in mind.

Macrina, I've read one book edited by Coakley, The Body in Religion, IIRC, but that only contained one paper by her.

Lawrence of Arabia said...

the hart book is outstanding, but if you are not already familiar with radical orthodoxy the place to start is milbank's theology and social theory, which is a future classic.

michael jensen said...

Peter Jensen's The Revelation of God (i admit, I have a vested interest here! But Ben M has reviewed it)

Oliver O'Donovan's Desire of the Nations - whole journal issues and symposia and resulting books have been given over to this one work. Not bad!

Gunton's 1,3 + many?

Volf's exclusion and embrace.