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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small book, big subject;: highly recommended
I found this book a perfect introduction to Christian Theology, easy to read but also quite stretching at times for those of us who are not professional academics. The author's style is warm & welcoming: he has an open approach, is honest about his own position and does not does not preach. I read the book as a committed Christian believer who wanted to dig deeper into my...
Published on 24 Oct 2002 by Phil Mumby

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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A broad, academic overview of Christian theology
Ford takes theology to be very broad in scope, academically occupying the overlap of comparative religion and philosophy, but in its broader role informing and being informed by every other discipline. It is the search for wisdom, in the context of a religious commitment. Ford's particular commitment is Christian, and he believes that theology cannot usefully be...
Published on 31 July 2005 by Peter Reeve


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A broad, academic overview of Christian theology, 31 July 2005
By 
Peter Reeve (Thousand Oaks, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Theology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Ford takes theology to be very broad in scope, academically occupying the overlap of comparative religion and philosophy, but in its broader role informing and being informed by every other discipline. It is the search for wisdom, in the context of a religious commitment. Ford's particular commitment is Christian, and he believes that theology cannot usefully be approached in a secular, neutral way. One must enter into a relationship with the divine, in his case with the Christian trinity, in order to properly explore theological questions. So this is not an introduction to the philosophy or psychology of religion, but an insider's view of a modern Christian theologian at work.
It is a rather cerebral view. You will seek in vain for the words 'mysticism' or 'grace' in the index, and on page 118 he says 'Buddhists might speak of Nirvana, a term with no Christian parallel.' Really? What of religious ecstasy, as described by Thomas A Kempis and others? What of 'a state of Grace'? Are such concepts uncomfortable to modern theologians?
There is also a lack of specificity. Questions are asked, issues raised, scope drawn (in very general terms) but it is left to the reader to explore possible answers. Arguably, that is all a short introduction like this can do.
Ford writes well. The proof reading was not perfect -- there is a spectacular typo on page 88 in which the words 'African wood carving' intrude themselves into a sentence about Jesus, for no reason other than they belong in the caption to the illustration on the facing page. Talking of illustrations, these VSI books do not always make effective use of very limited space. Thus we have a picture of London's Millennium Dome introducing the theme of theology in the next millennium.
Despite these reservations, this book remains a good introduction to the current state of Christian theology.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small book, big subject;: highly recommended, 24 Oct 2002
By 
Phil Mumby (Whitchurch, Shropshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Theology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I found this book a perfect introduction to Christian Theology, easy to read but also quite stretching at times for those of us who are not professional academics. The author's style is warm & welcoming: he has an open approach, is honest about his own position and does not does not preach. I read the book as a committed Christian believer who wanted to dig deeper into my faith, ask some fundamental questions and be challenged about what and why I believe. For this, the book is perfect, and having read it I find myself dipping back into it on a regular basis. Friends who have no particular Christian commitment have also found this book interesting, as it provides an intelligent and structured explanation of a complex and personal subject.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Like The Curate's Egg .. Good in Parts ! But Severely Lacking, 19 Mar 2012
By 
Capt I. McRae "The Ancient Mariner" (Angus, Scotland.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Theology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I bought this book as someone beginning to read Theology, hoping it would give me an overview of the subject and its various inner subjects. I was disappointed as, while it does deal with some of them in a passing way, it seems to be more a book on philosophy and philology. I did not get much theology from it, and found it quite boring. I did read it to the end, but it was a struggle despite it being quite a short book. Can't give it more than one star consequently. Definitely NOT recommended for students of theology. You'd be better reading a good course book like Alister McGrath's excellent "Christian Theology: An Introduction". While I do understand that a "very short" introduction can present difficulties of coverage, this book failed miserably to introduce me to theology. McGrath's book, on the other hand, while necessarily much larger, actually deals with theology not issues of little import to theology as this book does.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theology on the quick..., 22 Feb 2004
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Theology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Part of a series by Oxford University Press, this book, 'Theology: A Very Short Introduction', by David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, follows the same format as other texts in the Very Short Introduction series -- it has fewer than 200 pages, is well indexed, has a useful listing of further readings, accessible and enjoyable narrative, and captures the essence in a very short space the major points of its topic. There are probably nearing 100 volumes in this Very Short Introduction series (making it, ironically, not a Very Short series), but among those that I have read, this text stands out as being one of the more interesting to me.
There are ten chapters grouped according to three major sections: Describing the Field of Theology; Theological Explorations; and Skills, Disciplines and Methods. In the first section, Ford sets the stage by looking at the state of religious and academic institutions generally, before proceeding on to looking at the particular disciplines of religious studies and theology, which contrary to much popular thinking, are not the same thing at all. Ford looks specifically at postmodernism, Karl Rahner, Hans Frei's five types of theology, and general philosophical ideas at play in theological study.
In the section on Theological Explorations, for most this is where the heart of the matter lies. Various key components of systematic theological thinking are explored - the doctrine of God, the idea of ethics and morality (particularly as it has to do with worship and God), the problem of evil, basic Christological issues, and the idea of salvation. Ford does not confine his text to one particular view, but gives a sampling of different ideas, and highlights difficulties and strengths of each view.
The final primary section is one that often comes first in many theology texts of this sort - a discourse on method (with apologies to Descartes). Ford looks a bit at the history of the theological enterprise and how others have 'done' theology in the past. He then looks at key tools such as experience, knowledge and wisdom as shapers of theology. tools such as experience, knowledge and wisdom as shapers of theology. He uses Lonergan's three-level description method for epistemology as an example, and then turns to a nine-fold approach to appropriate knowing of God.
The last chapter looks at issues continuing for theology into the third millennium. Theology as a Christian enterprise is 2000 years old, and shows no signs of slowing, although theology in the future will be a very different creature and construct from theology in the past, all the while it must acknowledge its grounding in the events and the methods of the past.
Like other books in this Very Short series, there are some useful illustrations and suggestions for further reading, should the Very Short introduction not prove sufficient (and for many, this sample will leave the reader wanting more). I cannot speak too highly of this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Thoughtful Book, 1 Dec 2012
By 
Mr. M. J. Reynolds "M J Reynolds" (Nantwich, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Theology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I found this 175 page book gripping until the last couple of chapters which were tips for aspiring professional theologians, of which I am not one. The discussion of the problem of evil in the world was fantastic. It came to a tentative conclusion that the victim of apparent evil has a different experience to the onlooker. I can't speak for everyone but I am someone whose fate could be pitied and yet I have a rich experience of life which is often a blessing. Let's face it this book is inexpensive, and for the better chapters, which comprises most of the book, well worth the money.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little book, 27 Nov 2010
By 
H. Paisley "hevpais" (isle of man) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Theology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I bought this book as it was recommended on a course I am doing as a good introduction. I have found that it covers what could be very dry and difficult topics in a simplified and easy to read way. That doesn't mean that it 'dumbs down'; quite the contrary. It is a scholarly book, but written in simple terms without unnecessay verbosity. The author seems to have a genuine desire to inform, rather than to prove his own intelligence, which is often the case with other books. On the strength of this book I have just ordered others in the series - I hope they are as good. If you want a book that will give you a good foundation/grounding in the area of Theology, you can't go wrong with this little gem, in my opinion. NB I never write reviews, but thought this book was worth it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and generous book, 22 July 2009
By 
L. A. Taylor-Guthartz (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Theology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This is a beautifully thought-out and written book, that provides the reader with a wide-ranging overview of the range and goals of theology. Although the author is a practising Christian and notes that he will focus on Christian theology, both because it would be impossible to do justice to all traditions and because it is the area of his expertise, he deftly reminds us throughout that many of the points he makes are equally applicable to all traditions, and is clearly conscious that Christianity is only one of many religious traditions -- a welcome contrast to many writers on theology in the past who have taken the Christian viewpoint as the obvious default position. Ford's generous, sensitive, and ambitious view of the theological enterprise invites everyone to take part, whether Christian or not, and suggests avenues and directions for the future. After an introduction which maps the current state of academic theology (and includes its sometimes contentious relationship to religious studies), Ford moves on to examine basic topics such as God, worship and ethics, evil, Jesus, and salvation, before looking at the role that historical study of theology plays in grounding and widening modern practice. An excellent chapter on the role of sacred texts and the methods of their interpretation also includes a perceptive discussion of the importance of studying sacred texts in their original language, and the extra dimension this gives. After a fascinating discussion of the different ways of 'knowing' in theology, the book is rounded off with a consideration of what directions theological thought might explore in the future. This is a book that leaves the reader with a heightened -- and deepened -- sense of what it means to live in the presence of God.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Shop around, 1 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Theology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Ok but like it says this is a short introduction to theology so becomes more of a list than anything
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5.0 out of 5 stars A helpful book, 6 Nov 2013
This review is from: Theology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I had to read the introduction to this book for a course I am doing, it seemed good so I brought the book. There is lots of information for a small book! It has been helpful in my studies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 26 Feb 2013
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Mr. C. Hilken "charlie" (England) - See all my reviews
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I really rate this surprisingly interesting little book. I am not usually a fan of theology but found myself strangely beguiled by Ford's excellent style.
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