Book Review: Introduction to the History of Christianity

Introduction to the History of Christianity

Tim Dowley, ed. Introduction to the History of Christianity. 2nd Ed. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013. Pp. 616. ISBN 978-0-8006-9969-7. $55.00 (Paperback).

Within the past month, Fortress Press released the 2nd Ed. of Introduction to the History of Christianity, edited by Tim Dowley. Although not a typical pattern in the humanities discipline, this history book is a multi-authored resource. And by multi-authored, I mean 65 authors. With my focused interests in early church history, I will necessarily focus my attention on the relevant chapters.

The array of historical introductions gladly welcome this new edition. The collaborative effort is one of the chief marks of its value. Christian historians, from varied geographical locales, team together to write a “bird’s-eye view of 2000 years of Christianity” (preface, 18). Part I: Beginnings AD 1–325 and Part II: Acceptance and Conquest: AD 325–600 include 15 chapters authored by Richard A. Burridge, David F. Wright, Ralph P. Martin, Michael A. Smith, and others. Each chapter also includes multiple 200–600 word “side-bars”, highlighting relevant data respective of the chapter’s topics. Here is a small sampling of authors and topics:

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1892 Housh Talk — Did Early Communities Have a Pauline Reading of Hebrews?

1892 Logo

Each Wednesday PhD students and SBTS faculty engage in useful dialogue, enjoy pour-over coffee, and experience the euphoria of tasting exotic cheese. In this 1892 Club, we converse with current leaders and theologians in the field of theological studies. Our topics of discussion vary and range with diversity, from writing and publishing, to academic societal involvement, to pressing topics in academia. Each week presents itself with new and refreshing times as a PhD student. Some of my favorite times in our 1892 Club and “Housh Talks” are the championing of open ideas, free thinking, mentorship, and peer friendship. To say the least, the 1892 Club is one of the more enjoyable times as an SBTS PhD student.

At the end of each semester, we have “Housh Talks”. A “Housh Talk” is a 6 minute presentation on an idea pertinent to your studies, with an 8 minute response of intense and focused dialogue immediately following. This is a wonderful time to test ideas, to publicly entertain nuanced thoughts, and to hear from critical thinkers across multiple disciplines. The name comes from Housh, one of the first Th.D. graduates from Southern Seminary in 1894. To make the name more intriguing, he was blind too. Therefore, the administration named these TED-like talks after Housh.
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The Role of the Psalms in the Life of an Academic

The Case for the Psalms

(Here’s a break from academic writing to reflect on an Academic [Wright] and his piety)

The Psalms, a remarkable treasure trove of theological riches, play an unceasing role of emotional and theological encouragement. What is it about the Psalms that make them so rich? The historical trajectory of God’s faithfulness? The faithfulness and struggles bound up in the sufferer? The imaginative responses from its poetic guise?

I predominately spend my time in the New Testament and language study. One negative aspects to academic study is the frequency of debates entering your mind. You read a verse of Scripture and think, “Yeah, I know the sides of this discussion.” What ends up happening is a failure to allow the text to mold and shape you.
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