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Guides for the Perplexed (20 vols.)
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Overview

Bloomsbury’s Guides for the Perplexed are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging—or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.

In the Logos edition, these volumes are enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Provides helpful introductions to a variety of topics
  • Includes biographical and theological resources

Product Details

Individual Titles

Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed

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Christians agree that they are saved through the death and resurrection of Christ. But how is the atonement achieved in these events? This book offers an introduction to the doctrine of the doctrine of the atonement focused on the unity and diversity of the work of Christ.

Johnson reorients current patterns of thought concerning Christ’s work by giving the reader a unifying vision of the immensely rich and diverse doctrine of the atonement, offering a sampling of its treasures, and cultivating the desire to further understand and apply these riches to everyday life. Where introductions to the atonement typically favor one aspect of the work of Christ, or work with a set number of themes, aspects or theories, this book takes the opposite approach, developing the foundation for the multi-faceted nature of Christ’s work within the being of God himself. It offers a grand unifying vision of Christ’s manifold work. Specific elaborations of different theories of the atonement, biblical themes, and the work of different theologians find their place within this larger rubric.

Atonement is a clear, concise and well-written introduction which will be of benefit to students and ministers alike but could also stimulate lively discussion among more advanced experts in the field ... this is an excellent book and a stimulating read.

Theology Journal

Adam Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Theology in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, USA. He is the author of God’s Being in Reconciliation (T&T Clark, 2012), and editor of the forthcoming T&T Clark Companion to the Atonement.

Barth: A Guide For The Perplexed

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Karl Barth is perhaps the most influential Protestant theologian of the twentieth century. This Guide to his thought, written by one of the leading scholars of Barth, offers a concise but comprehensive introduction to his theology. The first chapter of the book considers the life and work of Karl Barth. Thereafter, the chapters examine in turn the key theological topics which Barth treated in his magnum opus, the Church Dogmatics—the doctrine of the Word of God, the doctrine of God, the doctrine of creation, and the doctrine of reconciliation. In each case, the theological path which Barth follows is first traced and then illuminated, recognising key lines of critique at appropriate junctures. The final chapter considers the legacy of the work of Barth, and the book closes with a list of suggestions for further reading. This structure follows the series format of the Bloomsbury T&T Clark Guides for the Perplexed, and offer a clear and accessible introduction to Barth’s thought.

This is a sure-footed, careful, and deeply sympathetic guide to Barth’s theology. Anyone new to Barth will find an invaluable starting point in Nimmo’s account of the content (and also the style and structure) of Church Dogmatics. Seasoned Barth scholars will recognize the depth of knowledge behind Nimmo’s skillful summary, and the deft, balanced way that he touches on controversial issues. Here is a book to which anyone can turn for a trustworthy and accessible overview of the magnum opus of one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century.

Suzanne McDonald, Western Theological Seminary, USA

Dr. Paul T. Nimmo is King’s Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Aberdeen, UK.

Benedict XVI: A Guide for the Perplexed

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This is an upper-level introduction to the thought and theology of Pope Benedict XVI. The book explains the foundations of Ratzinger’s thought by analyzing the theological axes upon which his works turn and helps readers to place his thought in the context of his intellectual antecedents and contemporary interlocutors.

If to be famous is also to be misunderstood, then Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI must count as one of the most misunderstood theologians of our time. No wonder even sympathetic readers find themselves perplexed and on the lookout for a reliable guide. In this latest in T&T Clark's Guide for the Perplexed series, Tracey Rowland has given us just what we need: the best overview of the pope’s thought currently available.

—Edward T. Oakes, S.J., Chester & Margaret Paluch Professor of Theology, University of St. Mary of the Lake and Mundelein Seminary

Tracey Rowland holds the St. John Paul II Chair of Theology at the University of Notre Dame in Australia and is a member of the International Theological Commission.

Bonhoeffer: A Guide for the Perplexed

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Joel Lawrence offers a new methodology and a fresh perspective in this book, making it a concise guide to one of the most remarkable martyrs and theologians of the 20th century.

Joel Lawrence is among the brightest of a new generation of interpreters of Bonhoeffer’s theology. In this book, informed by several years of research and teaching, Lawrence gives us a fresh, engaging and wonderfully clear introduction that illuminates the distinctive capacity of Bonhoeffer’s theology to serve the present age.

—Stephen Plant, Wesley House, Cambridge, UK

Joel Lawrence is Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Calvin: A Guide for the Perplexed

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John Calvin has been the subject of widespread misunderstanding and misinterpretation. He is a figure whom other theologians either seek to “capture” to endorse their own, often very different, positions or whom they seek to vilify. Calvin: A Guide for the Perplexed attempts to “re-situate” Calvin by providing a mid-level introduction to his thought. As befits the series, special attention is given to Calvin’s thought, not on his character or career. The focus here is not only on Calvin’s theological positions, but also on the philosophy intertwined within them, the significance of which is often overlooked.

Paul Helm’s guide to Calvin’s thought provides an ideal beginning for those wanting to tackle the thought of the great Genevan Reformer for the first time—particularly those interested in the philosophical-theological ideas informing Calvin’s system. Sure-footed and careful in exposition, and characteristically clear and generous in style, Helm brings to bear his considerable knowledge of Calvin’s work in this short introduction. Students and scholars alike will greatly benefit from it.

Oliver Crisp, Bristol University, UK

Paul Helm is J. I. Packer Professor in Theology and Philosophy at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada.

Christian Bioethics: A Guide for the Perplexed

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The subject of Christian Bioethics: A Guide for the Perplexed is bioethics in a wide sense including issues in medical ethics and questions concerning our relationship with animals, plants and, indeed, the whole planet earth. The key question is that of the value of life. This, then, yields the questions of what respect we owe to human and other forms of life and of how we should care for the world in general.

These questions are approached from a Christian perspective and also from more strictly philosophical perspectives. Thus, arguments from a Christian perspective regarding our relationships with fellow humans, other creatures and the planet, are coupled with discussions of different kinds of argument and counter-argument.

This book is a useful introduction for nurses and others who are interested in bioethics with an emphasis on the Christian perspective.

—Vince Mitchell, Book Reviews Editor, International Centre for Nursing Ethics, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

Agneta Sutton is Senior Lecturer in Moral Theology at the University of Chichester and part-time lecturer at Heythrop College, University of London, UK.

Christology: A Guide for the Perplexed

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Today Christology is of concern to both New Testament scholars and theologians alike and continues to provoke debate within the Church. Christology: A Guide for the Perplexed examines the key debates and defining moments in the early Church and the Reformation. After a brief introduction providing a basic definition of Christology, this historical background provides an essential foundation on which to outline later developments in Christology. Alan Spence then considers the Quest for the Historical Jesus, the work of the major theologians in this area including Barth and Schleiermacher, and from the present day, N.T. Wright and Pannenberg, and explores the contemporary arguments within the field of Christology.

Spence’s book serves as an excellent introductory summary that helpfully clarifies the complex and contentious issue of Christology.

—Religious Studies Review, September 2009

Alan J. Spence has been a teacher in Harare, an evangelist in the South African townships, a human rights advocate in Zimbabwe and Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa. He is now a minister in the United Reformed Church in Nottingham, UK.

Ecumenism: A Guide for the Perplexed

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Ecumenism: A Guide for the Perplexed is a comprehensive introduction to the methods, achievements, and future prospects of the modern ecumenical movement. The authors begin the volume by charting out a serviceable definition of ecumenism, a term that has long been a source of confusion for students of theology and church history. They review the chronology of the modern ecumenical movement and highlight the major events, figures, accomplishments, and impasses. This historical survey is followed by critical examinations of three significant challenges for contemporary ecumenical theology and practice. Along the way, the authors provide commentary upon the difficulties and prospects that the ecumenical movement might anticipate as it enters this new millennium.

This lucid introduction to the modern ecumenical movement offers an informative and reliable overview of its history and obstacles. The result is a broad, yet theologically astute orientation to ecumenism. Particularly noteworthy is the claim that contemporary ecumenism is unintelligible apart from the contributions of evangelical Christianity. Nelson and Raith’s passion for the church’s unity will draw in many of those skeptical of ecumenism

—Hans Boersma, Regent College, Canada

R. David Nelson is Acquisitions Editor at Baker Academic and Brazos Press in Grand Rapids, MI.

Charles Raith II, Ph.D., (Ave Maria University, USA) is Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy and Director of the Paradosis Center for Theology and Scripture at John Brown University, USA. Along with numerous journal articles, he is author of Aquinas and Calvin on Romans: God’s Justification and Our Participation (2014) and After Merit: John Calvin’s Theology of Works and Reward (2016).

Eucharist: A Guide for the Perplexed

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What is the Eucharist? This direct question would seem to yield an equally direct answer. However, as soon as we begin to answer it, we encounter an array of responses layered with various complexities. The answer is shaped by who answers, for example a roman catholic, an Anglican, or a Baptist. Perhaps, even the name ‘Eucharist’ would be contested. Answers to this question would reflect not only confessional differences but also the spectrum of theological and liturgical perspectives across Christianity. In this book, Ralph McMichael analyses these complexities/perplexities raised by asking these questions.

McMichael’s summary is a helpful review and a formative argument that will be beneficial for pastors, educators, and students. The book is replete with observations that are theological gems... It is a worthwhile addition to one’s theological library.

Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology

Ralph N. McMichael, Jr. is Canon Theologian and Dean of the Episcopal School for Ministry in the (Episcopal) Diocese of Missouri. He received his Ph.D. in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He is also co-editor of a two-volume work on Anglican Systematic Theology (SCM, 2007).

Paul: A Guide for the Perplexed

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This is an up-to-date and engaging introduction to the study of Paul offering prompting fresh interpretations of this crucial figure in biblical studies. The Apostle Paul is the most influential theologian in the Christian tradition while also being the most controversial and probably the least understood. He has been regarded simultaneously as an anti-Semite, a figure who would surely support the state of Israel, a misogynist, a feminist, a conservative, and a radical. Just as at various times over the last two millennia, Paul is again at the center of a range of controversies, beginning especially with E. P. Sanders’s groundbreaking work in the late 1970’s on Paul’s relationship to Judaism. Since then, the field of Pauline studies has been a hot-bed of vigorous and creative debate. This book will serve as an upper-undergraduate level engagement with these various controversies and debates, introducing students to the historical and hermeneutical dynamics that have given rise to the variety of discussions before then rigorously working through them.

The book starts with placing Paul historically in his first-century context and throughout church history. Gombis will then introduce the most significant debates in the study of Paul, drawing out the lines of argument of the major players in Pauline studies before then commending a way of processing the issues involved. The format of discussions, then, will be somewhat of a broad survey of advanced discussions, but will include Gombis’ own advocacy of a preferred view in each case. Continuum’s Guides for the Perplexed are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.

Tim Gombis has painted a picture of the apostle Paul by applying the fresh paint of recent scholarship to a traditional canvas of authorship and history. The results are a careful exposition of important issues that winsomely engages a variety of viewpoints and a book that will orient a new generation of students to the latest scholarly conversations about Paul.

—J.R. Daniel Kirk, Fuller Theological Seminary

Timothy G. Gombis is Associate Professor of New Testament at Cedarville University, Ohio, USA.

Pneumatology: A Guide for the Perplexed

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This guide aims to elaborate and constructively engage some of the ongoing dogmatic challenges within the field of Christian pneumatology. Rather than a strict survey, the book largely represents a collection of working proposals on a number of relevant themes, including cosmology, mediation, the nature and role of Spirit-baptism, and discernment.

For those who have found pneumatology frustrating and confusing, the book can serve as an aid to clarify some of the most crucial matters at stake in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and in turn provide some ways forward amidst the morass of possibilities available.

Without doubt Castelo’s desire to encourage us to engage more fully with pneumatology is one to be applauded... [This book] is written to create greater awareness and desire to engage, and this it does well.

Regent’s Reviews

Daniel Castelo is Associate Professor of Theology at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, WA, USA. He is the author of The Apathetic God (winner of the Templeton Award for Theological Promise, 2011) and Theological Theodicy (2012).

Prayer: A Guide For The Perplexed

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At the heart of Christian life and liturgy is the practice of prayer, that distinctive and yet utterly perplexing act, which believers and non-believers alike struggle to understand.

Drawing on the rich resources of the Christian tradition of prayer and spirituality (including Origen, Augustine, the Reformers, Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Thomas Merton), liturgical resources, and biblical material, this book guides the reader through some of the fundamental questions, tricky issues, and complex themes surrounding the problem of prayer from a Christian perspective.

Additionally, Cocksworth describes and investigates the recent re-turns to theologies of prayer and spirituality in contemporary academic theology and ethics (including, amongst others, in the work of Rowan Williams, Sarah Coakley, Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells) and provides some reflections on why prayer has suddenly once again become quite fashionable in academic discourse.

Finally, Cocksworth examines some of the problems in various popular approaches to prayer that market prayer in terms of individual therapy or are dominated by issues of efficacy and the promise to pray better.

Ashley Cocksworth is Assistant Professor in Theology and Ministry in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, UK.

Predestination: A Guide For The Perplexed

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The concept of predestination has been an essential topic in theology and philosophy since at least the time of St. Augustine. It has also long been one of the most contentious of Christian doctrines. Many theologians and laypersons have found the doctrine a source of great comfort, but many others have found it deeply worrisome. Above all, those who reject predestination have been motivated by concerns about what the doctrine implies about human free will and divine responsibility for evil.

Couenhoven addresses these issues by taking up two main questions: ‘what does a doctrine of predestination actually imply?’, and ‘why has a version of this doctrine nonetheless proved appealing to so many great theologians?’ In providing answers to these queries, Couenhoven leads the reader through the thorny issues connected with the Christian understanding of predestination. He analyzes what predestination meant to St. Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Barth, and explains the different ways in which they held together belief in predestination, free will, and God’s goodness. Couenhoven concludes that belief in predestination is more defensible than is widely believed.

Jesse Couenhoven is Assistant Professor of Moral Theology in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University, USA.

Resurrection: A Guide for the Perplexed

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This volume examines what the followers of Jesus meant when they declared that he was raised from the dead. This claim, which lies at the core of Christian faith, is one of the most controversial topics in Christianity. Jesus’ resurrection has no analogy in human history. Although many 1st-century Jews expected the resurrection of the dead at the end of time, the Christian claim that this had already happened to one individual within the realm of history was unprecedented. Moreover, an affirmation of Jesus’ bodily resurrection contradicts the known laws of nature. Additional difficulty comes from the nature of the available evidence. The New Testament sources not only mirror the worldview of ancient authors but also differ with regard to who saw him alive, what was the nature of his risen body, and whether the empty tomb was a widespread knowledge or an assumption based on prior beliefs. Novakovic presents all these issues in a clear and methodical way. She examines the literary sources and addresses various questions related to historical investigations of Jesus’ resurrection.

This is a really good book for ministers and students, summarizing in a balanced manner the contemporary resurrection debate. It is well written, impressive in its scope... and contains references to a range of other writings to expand one’s understanding. Read it before next Easter’s sermons

Regent’s Reviews

Lidija Novakovic (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Baylor University. She is the author of Messiah, the Healer of the Sick and a co-editor of The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations, volumes 3 and 6B.

The Church: A Guide for the Perplexed

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The Church: A Guide for the Perplexed presents readers with an upper-level introduction to the Christian doctrine of the Church. This book is a rigorous comprehensive introduction to the doctrine of the Church by taking the tack of walking readers through the internal logic of ecclesiology. Rather than simply offering a compendium of perspectives on each issue that arises, the authors seek to teach and model thinking theologically, with the grain of scripture and ecclesial reflection, about the Church. The chapters are peppered with two to three excursuses per chapter which consider a particularly pertinent issue that arises from the doctrine’s development (e.g. the move from Jesus to the Church, schism and the rise of denominations, sacramental mediation) or contemporary concerns (e.g. the question of other religions, contemporary ecumenical questions, the emerging church).

While the overall tone and content of the book articulate and invite discussion on the problematics of ecclesiology, these excurses will provide ample opportunity to examine and (where appropriate) untangle ecclesiological knots. Guides for the Perplexed are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers, and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging—or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.

The Church is indeed a guide—for both the perplexed and the apoplexed. Jenson and Wilhite offer an important theological tonic to those for whom “church” connotes scandal or abuse rather than good news and reconciliation. Writing from their own free church traditions but for the whole church, they provide a non-partisan overview of the doctrine of the church that is clear but never simplistic. They include several well-judged excurses on particularly important matters (e.g., the question of Jesus’ founding the church, the development of the episcopacy, women’s ordination, and the emerging church). Their main burden, however, is to weave a positive account of the nature, function, and origin of the church as the means by which the triune God asserts and advances the kingdom that arrived in Jesus. This wonderful collaboration provides further evidence that “wherever two or three are gathered in Christs’ name,” Christ is indeed in their midst.

—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Blanchard Professor of Theology, Wheaton College Graduate School

Matt Jenson is a systematic theologian in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, La Mirada, CA. He is the author of The Gravity of Sin: Augustine, Luther and Barth on ‘homo incurvatus in se’ (T&T Clark, 2007).

David Wilhite is a historical theologian (patristics) at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, Waco, TX. He is the author of Tertullian the African: An Anthropological Reading of Tertullian's Context and Identities (Walter de Gruyter, 2007).

The History of Ancient Israel: A Guide for the Perplexed

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The History of Ancient Israel: A Guide for the Perplexed provides the student with the perfect guide to why and how the history of this most contested region has been studies, and why it continues to be studied today. Philip R. Davies, one of the leading scholars of Ancient Israel in recent years, begins by examining the relevance of the study of Ancient Israel, giving an overview of the sources and issues facing historians in approaching the material.

Davies then continues by looking at the various theories and hypotheses that scholars have advanced throughout the 20th century, showing how different approaches are presented and in some cases how they are both underpinned and undermined by a range of ideological perspectives. Davies also explains the rise and fall of Biblical Archaeology, the ‘maximalist/minimalist’ debate. After this helpful survey of past methodologies Davies introduces readers to the current trends in biblical scholarship in the present day, covering areas such as cultural memory, the impact of literary and social scientific theory, and the notion of ‘invented history’. Finally, Davies considers the big question: how the various sources of knowledge can be combined to write a modern history that combines and accounts for all the data available, in a meaningful way. This new guide will be a must for students of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

A splendid guide to studying the history of ancient Israel. Davies seeks a balance between describing the great works of the past, the present state of the question, and prospects for the future. He rightly spends some time on explaining, “What is history?”—that is, how does the modern historian approach the writing of history? He also clarifies the essential question of why we cannot write the history of ancient Israel simply by telling the Bible story with perhaps a few inscriptions and a little archaeology thrown in. The importance of integrating the social sciences, as well as archaeology, into the modern writing of history is given an appropriate emphasis. The final section on “constructing” a history is illustrated by discussing the strengths and weaknesses of several recent approaches. This make an excellent textbook for any class on the history of Israel, not to mention serving as a guide and introduction for anyone interested in the subject.

—Lester L. Grabbe, University of Hull, UK

Philip R. Davies is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield, UK.

The New Testament and Jewish Law: A Guide for the Perplexed

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This book will provide a general introduction to Jewish law (Torah) for students of New Testament studies. It will include a general discussion on the role of Jewish law in understanding Christian origins with particular reference to correcting the harsh and negative evaluations in a previous generation of scholarship and to showing how an understanding of Jewish law is extremely important in understanding the emergence of Christianity. There will also be a general chapter of the origins and sources of early Jewish law, including the biblical texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Philo, and early rabbinic material. This will also provide a general introduction to the different ways Jewish law was interpreted. The rest of the book will be taken up by short chapters which will provide specific examples of Jewish law based on issues raised in the New Testament. These will include areas such as circumcision, Sabbath, food and purity, divorce, eye for an eye, family loyalties, ethnicity, and oaths. Throughout, the focus will not be on the 'correct' interpretation or historical accuracy of given gospel passages but rather the areas of Jewish law which illuminate the given New Testament passage. The idea is to provide readers with specific legal contexts for their own interpretations of New Testament passages. Guides for the Perplexed are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging—or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.

All in all, Crossley succeeds in presenting a complex topic in clear and succinct terms. The book is well written and well organized. It requires no knowledge of ancient languages. Neither does one need to painstakingly lookup sources, since most sources are quoted in the texts. The balance between the breadth and depth of the topic makes the book an excellent resource as textbook for students who are introduced to the NT in light of the Jewish Law(s).

Reviews in Religion & Theology

James G. Crossley is Professor of Bible at St. Mary’s University Twickenham, UK. His most recent publications include Harnessing Chaos, published in paperback by Bloomsbury T&T Clark in 2016.

The Trinity: A Guide for the Perplexed

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Although the doctrine of the Trinity is a core Christian belief, it remains contested in terms of how it is conceptualized and expressed. This essential guide expounds different conceptual models and the technical language used to express these models. Providing a complete overview, as well as new insights into the area, The Trinity: A Guide for the Perplexed is an essential read for students of Christian Theology.

Collins’ unique competency in this doctrinal domain is evident on every page... the review of literature alone makes this book a key reference point for any serious study of the doctrine.

Religious Studies Review, Vol. 37, Issue 4

Revd Dr Paul M. Collins formerly Reader in Theology at the University of Chichester, Parish Priest on Holy Island, Northumberland, England.

Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed

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What does it mean to be human and to be made in the image of God? What does it mean to be a ‘person?’ What constitutes a human person? What does it mean to affirm that humans are free beings? And, what is gender? Marc Cortez guides the reader through the most challenging issues that face anyone attempting to deal with the subject of theological anthropology. Consequently, it addresses complexities surrounding such questions as: Each chapter explains first both why the question under consideration is important for theological anthropology and why it is also a contentious issue within the field. After this, each chapter surveys and concisely explains the main options that have been generated for resolving that particular question. Finally the author presents to the reader one way of working through the complexity. These closing sections are presented as case studies in how to work through the problems and arrive at a conclusion than as definitive answers. Nonetheless, they offer a convincing way of answering the questions raised by each chapter.

The study of theological anthropology raises notoriously difficult issues. In this very well-informed book, Marc Cortez addresses some of the toughest of these issues, and he does so in a way that is not only clear-headed and insightful but also scrupulously fair and gracious. Without trying to ‘solve’ all difficulties, he lays out the options, evaluates relative strengths and weaknesses, and points the way forward.

Thomas McCall, Associate Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology

Marc Cortez (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is Assistant Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Wesley: A Guide for the Perplexed

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As anyone familiar with both the stereotypes and the scholarship related to John Wesley knows, tricky interpretive questions abound: was Wesley a conservative, high church Tory or a revolutionary protodemocrat or proto-Marxist? Was he a modern rationalist obsessed with the epistemology of religious belief or a late medieval style thinker who believed in demonic possession and supernatural healing? Was Wesley primarily a pragmatic evangelist or a serious theologian committed to the long-haul work of catechesis, initiation, and formation?

Vickers is to be commended for producing a synoptic vision of John Wesley’s thought that is not just a great introduction for beginners but offers important new insights for those who have been studying Wesley for some time. He grounds Wesley in the particularity of eighteenth-century establishment Anglicanism, and uses this grounding to sketch a broad coherence among Wesley’s ecclesiastical, political, and theological commitments. His central thesis is a landmark for future studies of these issues.

—Randy L. Maddox, Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies, Duke Divinity School, USA

Jason E. Vickers is Associate Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies at United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio, USA.