At first glance, the title seems so generic, the price so high. What gives? But the editors explain themselves, and a little reflection tends to confirm their claims: there really is no other work that does what this massive project intends to do (this is the first of a projected four volumes covering the entire history of Christian theology). There are eminent and useful histories of doctrine -- Pelikan's The Christian Tradition
in five volumes, and in shorter space J.N.D. Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines
come to mind. There are histories of Christological development -- Cullmann's for the New Testament period, Grillmeier's Christ in Christian Tradition
for the patristic. And of course, there are a multitude of church histories. But the aim of this series is to probe specifically the history of theology -- the theological task itself, in all its complexity and diversity, in the Christian tradition. The scholars involved (really the elite of continental Catholic historical theologians) recite a list of questions that guided their work, a few of which give a more definite idea of what to expect from this volume: How are God and humanity interrelated? How is ''salvation'' understood? How is the Bible used? What relationship is established between prayer, liturgy, and theology? What bearing does theology have on everyday human life and on major choices made by the Church? How early in this history of theology can we find an awareness of method? Space prevents us from listing even the table of contents beyond this bare outline, but highlights include Prosper Grech's examination of the background of theology in Greek philosophy and Judaism, Eric Osborn's summary of multiple dimensions of early theology (as response to pagan and philosophical objections, as the testimony of martyrs, as canon of truth, as scriptural exegesis), Angelo Di Berardino's study of the significance of Christian apocrypha, and the massive contribution of Basil Studer on the fourth and fifth centuries, culminating in his division of theological method into three fundamental types -- patristic, scholastic, and monastic -- and his provocative suggestion that the methodology of the later Fathers was not a slavish repetition, but a critical appropriation, of the work of the Fathers of the fourth-century Golden Age.
An Eighth Day View:
The multiple volumes that encompass this study bring theology out of its small circle of experts, and show it for what it is to all: a cultural expression of faith that is sensitive to the needs of the day and developed in close dialogue with other forms of the culture.
History of Theology will be published in multiple volumes. Translated from Italian, this scholarly work is carefully organized and annotated.