Two Historical Theology Books from IVP

Two Historical Theology Books from IVP October 26, 2012

Here’s two sweet books from IVP on historical theology.

Bradely G. Green (ed.)
Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy: Engaging with Early and Medieval Theologians
Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2010.
Available at

This book covers Irenaeus (W. Brian Shelton), Tertullian (Gerald Bray), Origen (Bryan Liftin), Athanasius (Carl Beckwith), Three Cappadocians (Robert Letham), Augustine (Bradely Green), Anselm (David Hogg), and Thomas Aquinas (Mark Elliott). I liked this volume because it gives you an overview of each main person, looks at major issues they addressed, and includes sizable quotes of original text. The chapter by Bray on Tertullian was particularly enjoyable.

Gerald R. McDermott

The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide
Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2010.
Available at

This is another introductory volume to great Christian thinkers. It covers Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Friedrich Schleiermacher, John Henry Newman, Karl Barth, and Hans Urs von Balthasar. My favourite chapter was the one on Balthasar, since I’ve heard a lot about him, but it was good to see where he fitted into 20th century theology.

It is hard to choose between these two books. McDermott is the slimmer one and is more consistent being by one author. But Green’s is a bit more comprehensive in its content. Any student (B.Th or M.Div) would benefit from a good read of both during the course of doing some Church History subjects.

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  • Dwight Davis

    I had to read both of these during my undergrad. Dr. Green taught my Patristics class and for the second half of that rotation (Reformation through modern day) we had a different prof who used McDermott. I loved Green’s book. It was helpful and insightful. Dr. Beckwith’s chapter on Athanasius was probably my favorite in the work (he’s now my Patristics prof in divinity school). I found McDermott’s to be a little to basic to be of much help if you’ve ever read anything by or about any of the featured thinkers.