One needs to be a lunatic to become a Christian, the 19th century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once observed. Had he lived in the 20th century he might have discerned even more of an obstacle to faith. For during the last century the human condition changed more rapidly than during any previous era, taking that condition far away from the historical circumstances in which Christianity was born. In his new book, Philip Kennedy explores the ways Christian theologians of the 20th century tried to live a productive religious life in a world overtaken by massive upheaval and innovation. The book is distinctive in a number of respects. First, it differs from other surveys of theology by adopting a biographical method, examining the lives of its subjects in historical context. Second, it is more progressive than its competitors, covering many theologians other than white male professors -- espcially women -- who have worked outside the academy or on the margins of the churches. Third, it is international, focusing on theologians in all the continents of the world rather than just Europe or North America. Fourth, it makes no assumptions that its readers are religious or that theology is uniquely credible. There is a need for a sensitive new textbook reassessing the subject in the light of modern concerns and skepticism about religion. This book meets that need.
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Philip Kennedy teaches modern theology in the University of Oxford. He is the author of a volume introducing students to the thought of Edward Schillebeeckx and of A Modern Introduction to Theology: New Questions for Old Beliefs (I.B.Tauris).Review:
""Philip Kennedy writes with the impressive authority that comes with years of engagement as a Christian theologian and also with the clarity of an experienced teacher of undergraduates. There are several texts available which cover twentieth century theology, but what is unique and arresting about Kennedy’s highly readable book is that the exponents of modern theology whom he discusses are placed firmly and illuminatingly in the context of the turbulent history of the last century. This is a novel, satisfyingly multi-layered and exciting take on the whole story, and it is one that should prove highly attractive to students and general readers alike.""-- Fergus Kerr, OP, Honorary Fellow, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, and author of Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians: From Neoscholasticism to Nuptial Mysticism
""Twentieth Century Theologians is a tremendous achievement - colossal in stature, subtle in intellectual grasp and enviable in its scope. The volume packs a number of important surprises (not least the contribution made to twentieth century theology by women like Evelyn Underhill and Dorothy Day), and does so with a pedagogical sensitivity and a linguistic lucidity that we all have to admire. It also negotiates the difficult task of covering the field without prejudice, drawing on the best and the most influential thinking from all denominational traditions. Philip Kennedy has pulled something off here that is as original as it is fresh, exciting and unpredictable: a first rate textbook for students and for university teachers alike."" -- Graham Ward, Professor of Contextual Theology and Head of the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester""This is a great book. It provides a wonderfully clear introduction to some 21 Christian theologians, from a wide variety of backgrounds, explaining their ideas but also their lives: the setting in which their thought developed. More importantly, it sets their theologies against the history of the twentieth century: a time of untold riches and grinding poverty, of technological marvels and terrible violence. For Philip Kennedy the measure of theology is the extent to which it challenges injustice. This is also the challenge that his book poses to its readers: what is the point of theology if it doesn’t want to change the world?""-- Gerard Loughlin, Professor of Theology and Religion, Durham University
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