The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $7.80
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 61%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (12) from $7.80   
  • New (6) from $11.94   
  • Used (6) from $7.80   


Who are the church's great theologians? What was special about their teaching? What can we learn from them today?

Gerald McDermott has written this book for those who want a solid introduction that is challenging, but not overwhelming. Provocative but satisfying. And not too long. McDermott not only informs us about eleven pivotal theologians from Origen to von Balthasar, but helps us sort out what is of continuing value today.

With study questions at the end of each chapter, this book is perfect for small groups to go through together. As you do, you'll explore your shared theological history and uncover more about what and why you believe. Here's your chance to think with "the greats" about God.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Michael McClymond
"For many the 'great theologians' seem intimidating. Yet McDermott offers reliable guidance to the uninitiated, making their thought accessible to readers who have never cracked open Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica or John Calvin's Institutes. His presentation of eleven theologians' lives, loves, careers, books, insights, quirks and bloopers is engaging and--dare one say it?--entertaining. This slender volume offers a draft of pure water for the theological soul, and will leave its readers thirsting for more."
Douglas A. Sweeney
"This handy volume offers an excellent introduction to some of the leading theologians in the history of the church--a wonderful guide to what the theologians call the 'Great Tradition.' If you have been looking for something to help you understand the thought of these titans, search no further. McDermott's book is what you need."
John H. Armstrong
"First-rate scholar Gerald McDermott employs effective prose without becoming prosaic and so provides us a wonderfully catholic and evangelical book that gives Christian theology its proper place in renewal for the health of the church."
Peter J. Leithart
"In this excellent guide McDermott introduces outsiders to some of the heroes of his theological tribe. His writing is clear and lively, his selection ecumenical, his assessments judicious. Every Christian is a theologian, called to speak to and about God, and The Great Theologians will make many Christians better theologians by sharing the wisdom the Spirit has disclosed to these notable theologians."
Monica Tenney
"The Great Theologians succeeds as a concise guide that will serve well in congregational libraries as a source of basic information on the development of Christian thought."
John Jaegar
A helpful book that introduces the reader to 11 major theologians. General readers with an interest in Christianity or Christian theology will likely find this book an interesting and helpful place to start.
Library Journal
Theology might seem like a topic reserved for academic specialists and those in pastoral ministry. However, McDermott (religion & philosophy, Roanoke Coll.) believes every Christian is a theologian, in that he or she reflects upon God and the meaning of faith. With this in mind, he has written a helpful book that introduces the reader to 11 major theologians, all of whom made significant contributions to the development of Christian thought. Included are such figures as Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and Barth. In each chapter, McDermott provides biographical information, key contributions, insights for the contemporary reader, a selection from the theologian's writing, discussion and reflection questions, and sources for further reading . Chapters are mostly under 20 pages in length, which is sufficient for gaining an introductory familiarity with the theologians. VERDICT In considering such a work as this, informed readers may wonder why certain other theologians were not included who seem equally deserving. Yet McDermott wanted to provide an introductory work covering a limited number of figures, so his selections seem appropriate. General readers with an interest in Christianity or Christian theology will likely find this book an interesting and helpful place to start.—John Jaegar, Dallas Baptist Univ. Lib., TX
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830838752
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 2/8/2010
  • Pages: 214
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald R. McDermott (Ph.D., University of Iowa) is professor of religion and philosophy at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. He is also a Teaching Pastor at St. John Lutheran Church.

His other books include Living with Cancer, Dear God, It's Cancer, Cancer, One Holy and Happy Society, Jonathan Edwards Confronts the Gods, Seeing God, Claiming Christ, Understanding Jonathan Edwards, Baker Pocket Guide to World Religions and Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 Why study theology?
2 Origen - oft-reviled but "the greatest teacher after the apostles"
3 Athanasius - the black monk who saved the faith
4 Augustine - the most influential theologian ever
5 Thomas Aquinas - the teacher of the Catholic Church
6 Martin Luther - the monk who rose up against heaven and earth
7 John Calvin - greatest theologian of the Reformed tradition
8 Jonathan Edwards - "America's theologian"
9 Friedrich Schleiermacher - father of liberal theology
10 John Henry Newman - the Anglican theologian who swam the Tiber
11 Karl Barth - most influential 20th-century theologian
12 Hans Urs von Balthasar - stellar Catholic theologian of the twentieth century
13 What these theologians teach us about theology
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)