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on 16 September 2006
It's a good book for pulling together ideas that have been floating around and seeing how they fit in. It was an easy enough read, although very cerebral and not connecting with the mystical tradition of faith, which would have allowed for more non-Christian dialogue.

It's short, it does what it says it's going to, and is generally helpful. It loses out because it focuses solely on Christianity, (although the VSI on Islam, Judaism and Christianity are very good and complementary to this volume) and there's a couple of times where I feel he's picking at straw men - the comment about childhood geniuses in music and maths suggested that he considers theology the preserve of old men and not young mystics. Given a number of saints were in their teens when they began writing influential works, he might wish to reconsider.
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on 26 February 2013
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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on 1 February 2014
Ok but like it says this is a short introduction to theology so becomes more of a list than anything
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on 14 January 2016
Great book, super service
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on 24 September 2008
I have read and appreciated a large number of publications from this series, and many of them are extremely enjoyable and informative.

This particular 'very short introduction' is neither enjoyable nor informative. (Neither is it very short - at 175 pages long it is a good 50 pages longer than the average VSI.)

The writing style is bland throughout, and despite a well-structured contents page the text itself is muddled and rambling. Each chapter ends with a summary, each of which left me thinking 'did I really just read that?', even though I am a highly attentive and observant reader.

This book has not introduced me to the subject of theology. For a start, it is focused purely on Christianity. The author's defence of this decision is that the format (a 'very short' introduction) does not allow one to go into detail on the subject if one does not focus on one religion. To counter this, I would point out that the VSI to Music is an excellent book, in which the author gives an outstanding and fairly comprehensive introduction to the subject in far fewer pages, without arguing (for example) that he can only get into enough detail if he focuses on only one stle of music.

Furthermore, the VSI to theology isn't particularly detailed. It gives no overview of issues, theories, history of the subject or analysis of key concepts. The first 60 pages are tantamount to a tortuous list of questions, questions which I could easily have imagined belong to the subject. What I was looking for was an overview of the kind of answers that might have been put forward throughout the history of the subject.

It is books like this that make me think the publishers of the series are more interested in covering every subject as quickly as possible than with seeking out the right author for each subject. The result here is an extremely bland introduction to some of the questions that surround Christianity. Put simply, it isn't an introduction to theology at all.
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on 15 May 2001
As I read this book, the words seem to swim before my eyes. At the end of it I was very little wiser than when I began. It might not help being an atheist, but I was hoping for an introduction that made sense of religion and the history of theology. This, however, is a very modern introduction. There is even discussion of postmodern approaches. (The book does contain a very good explanation of metanarratives.) I'm not sure it's that much of an introduction - I found it quite heavy going at times.
I suppose I was looking for a book that would tell me how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, and this one didn't.
I should reiterate an earlier point: a religious person might find this book much more rewarding than I did.
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on 18 July 2004
ok, but if I'd seen it in a shop I'd probably not have bothered with it
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