Theology Competency Reading

The following are works that I’m required to read during my PhD program at Wheaton College Graduate School.

Leading Journals

Including, but not limited to:

Useful Series

Including, but not limited to:

General Reading Requirements

Classics and Historical Theology Competence

Creeds and Confessions

Be familiar with the ecumenical creeds and major confessions, using resources such as:

“Milestone” Works

Have basic knowledge and at least significant sample reading of these twenty milestone works is expected:

  • Didache.
  • Irenaeus. Against Heresies.
  • Athanasius. On the Incarnation of the Word.
  • Augustine. Confessions.
  • Augustine. On Christian Doctrine/Teaching.
  • Augustine. The Trinity.
  • Augustine. City of God.
  • Basil. On the Holy Spirit.
  • Gregory of Nazianzus. Five Theological Orations.
  • Gregory of Nyssa. On the Soul and the Resurrection.
  • Anselm. Cur Deus Homo.
  • Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologiae.
  • Martin Luther. The Bondage of the Will.
  • Martin Luther. Freedom of a Christian.
  • John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion.
  • John Wesley. A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.
  • Jonathan Edwards. Religious Affections.
  • Friedrich Schleiermacher. The Christian Faith.
  • Karl Barth. Church Dogmatics.

Additional Figures

Additional figures with which to have some kind of reading acquaintance include:

  • Ignatius of Antioch,
  • Justin Martyr,
  • Origen,
  • Tertullian,
  • Cyprian,
  • John Chrysostom,
  • Cyril of Alexandria,
  • Gregory Palamas,
  • Pseudo-Dionysius,
  • Bonaventure,
  • Julian of Norwich,
  • Ulrich Zwingli,
  • John Owen,
  • Søren Kierkegaard,
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer.)


Students should also familiarize themselves with relevant philosophical content and contours, such as that covered in:

  • Diogenes Allen, Philosophy for Understanding Theology, 2d ed., with Eric O. Springsted (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2007)
  • OR: Copleston, Frederick (S.J.), A History of Philosophy, 11 vols.
    • 1: Greece and Rome
    • 2: Augustine to Scotus
    • 3: Ockham to Suarez
    • 4: Descartes to Leibniz
    • 5: Hobbes to Hume
    • 6: Wolff to Kant
    • 7: Fichte to Nietzsche
    • 8: Bentham to Russell
    • 9: Maine de Biran to Sartre
    • 10: Russian Philosophy
    • 11: Logical Positivism and Existentialism

Modern Theology

In addition, they should have basic familiarity with key figures influential upon modern theology, such as Kant and Hegel. The best way to start is to read

  • James C. Livingston, et al., eds., Modern Christian Thought, 2 vols., 2nd ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2006).

Church History

It is assumed that in master’s work students have already read one general-coverage overview of church history. If remedial work is required, possibilities include:

  • Cunliffe-Jones, Hubert, with Benjamin Drewery, eds. A History of Christian Doctrine. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1978.
  • Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought. Rev. ed. 3 vols. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1983.
  • MacCulloch, Diarmaid. Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. New York: Penguin, 2011.
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. 5 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971–1988.
  • Walker, Williston. A History of the Christian Church. 3rd ed. New York: Scribner’s, 1970.

Systematic Theology Competence

Students should read one modern, general-coverage ST written by a non-evangelical (e.g. Pannenberg, Jenson). They should also be acquainted with at least one general-coverage, evangelical ST (e.g. Erickson) They should also be familiar with other major, contemporary systematic theology projects (e.g. Sonderegger, Coakley, Kärkkainen).

Contemporary Evangelical Theology

Students should read one of the following recent overviews of evangelical ST, to gain ability to discuss contemporary positions on major dogmatic issues at a classroom Q & A level.

  • Larsen, Timothy, and Daniel J. Treier, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Evangelical Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • McDermott, Gerald R., ed. The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Contemporary Academic Theology

Students should read through at least one sizable, general-coverage, overview of contemporary academic theology, such as:

  • Hodgson & King, The Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine, or
  • the Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology

Catechesis; Catechisms

Students should become familiar with the form and basic content of

  • the Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • (the Lutheran Book of Concord can also be a very helpful resource for catechetical work).

Important Contemporary Works

The following works on particular subjects are of such broad importance to contemporary HT and/or ST that all students are required to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest (possibly also disagreeing heartily with!) them—at least to become capable of discussing them in detail.

  • Ayres, Lewis. Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth Century Trinitarian Theology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Bauckham, Richard. God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
  • Coakley, Sarah. Powers and Submissions: Spirituality, Philosophy, and Gender. Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.
  • Gunton, Colin E. The One, the Three, and the Many: God, Creation, and the Culture of Modernity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
    • OR: The Triune Creator.
  • Hauerwas, Stanley, and William Willimon. Resident Aliens: A Provocative Assessment of Culture and Ministry for People Who Know That Something Is Wrong. Nashville: Abingdon, 1989.
    • OR: With the Grain of the Universe.
  • Gutierrez, Gustavo. A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1973.
  • Hays, Richard B. The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996.
  • Jennings, Willie James. The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
  • Moltmann, Jürgen. Theology of Hope. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1993.
  • O’Donovan, Oliver. Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics. 2d ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.
  • Tanner, Kathryn. Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity: A Brief Systematic Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2001.
  • Torrance, Thomas F. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church. London: T&T Clark, 1991.
  • Vanhoozer, Kevin J. The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2005.
  • Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.
  • Warfield, Benjamin B. The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. Edited by Samuel G. Craig. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948.
  • Webster, John. Word and Church: Essays in Christian Dogmatics. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. (or: another Webster tome)
  • Wright, N. T.
    • (Find a sample or overview of his work re Jesus and Paul, such as in the Wheaton Theology Conference volume edited by Nicholas Perrin and Richard Hays.)

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