Building the Minister’s Library: The Study of Theology
John G. Bales
The study of theology is complex and elicits many questions. What is theology? What are its major approaches? What are the various disciplines within theology? If there is more than one discipline within theology, how are the various disciplines integrated? Where does the study of the Bible fit within this broad subject? What is the relationship between historical theology and systematic theology? These are just a few of the perennial questions related to the study of theology.
Several resources are available which reflect upon these questions and propose answers. Below is a list of ten books which introduce the subject. Note that this is a list of introductions to theology. I am not providing here a list of books on historical or systematic theology. Nor am I offering a list of what are necessarily Reformed perspectives, although some are included. Those lists may appear at a later date. The following books are merely introductions to the study of theology.
Bavinck, Herman, John Bolt, and John Vriend. Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena. Vol. 1 Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2003. Bavinck’s Prolegomena is an excellent entry point for orthodox Reformed theology.
Berkhof, Louis. Introduction to Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979. Berkof’s Systematic Theology is still used as a standard textbook for many seminarians. His Introduction prepares the way for a clearer understanding of his systematics.
Ebeling, Gerhard. The Study of Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978. Ebeling was one of the finest Luther scholars and his Study surveys the various disciplines.
Farley, Edward. Theologia: The Fragmentation and Unity of Theological Education. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983. Theologia was ground-breaking and provocative work.
Horton, Michael Scott. Covenant and Eschatology: The Divine Drama. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. Horton is accessible and engaging.
Kirk, Kenneth E. The Study of Theology. London: Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, 1939. Older, but nevertheless Oxford scholarship at its finest.
Kuyper, Abraham. Principles of Sacred Theology. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1954. Kuyper was brilliant and he furnishes us an excellent Reformed work.
Muller, Richard A. The Study of Theology: From Biblical Interpretation to Contemporary Formulation. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1991. Muller provides the best introduction to the subject.
Pannenberg, Wolfhart. Theology and the Philosophy of Science. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976. An exhaustive study on the science of theology, especially good on the relationship of the various disciplines within theology.
Schaff, Philip, and Samuel Macauley Jackson. Theological Propædeutic; A General Introduction to the Study of Theology, Exegetical, Historical, Systematic, and Practical, Including Encyclopaedia, Methodology, and Bibliography; a Manual for Students. New York: C. Scribner's sons, 1893.