Book Review: God Has Spoken: A History of Christian Theology by Gerald Bray

God Has Spoken

Introduction: Bray, a world renowned historical theologian, has put together his attempt at a comprehensive historical theology volume. Rather than the traditional chronological approach, Bray structures his book in a trinitarian fashion. After the first part on Christianity’s Jewish inheritance, the remainder of the book follows the shape of the Godhead: the person and work of the Father (parts 2-3); the person and work of the Son (parts 4-5); the person and work of the Holy Spirit (parts 6-7); one God in three persons (part 8).

The Good: Bray’s command of the material is present from the very beginning of the volume (seen, for example, in the minimal amount of footnotes typical of such a tome).  Also, the thoroughly trinitarian framework allows for a more cohesive and history-sensitive approach to historical theology, in contrast to a volume that might chop up history in a more artificial and topical manner (e.g., Gregg Allison’s Historical Theology which follows the traditional loci of systematic theology).

The Bad: As in most things, the strengths of an endeavor come with corresponding weaknesses. Bray’s lack of footnotes sometimes makes a researcher like me a little frustrated. Likewise, Bray’s trinitarian structure make the volume a little more difficult to find certain specific things; additionally, he sometimes is forced to hit certain topics more than once or artificially break up what would otherwise be connected (e.g., can the person of the Son be spoken of without the person of the Father or the Holy Spirit).

Overall: This book is a fantastic resource on the history of Christian Thought. I see it as a great complement to other chronological volumes (e.g., Allison or Pelikan), but not a replacement.


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