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John R. Franke
How Theology Happened
In this volume, Roger Olson offers an introduction to historical theology that takes seriously the demands of reader accessibility and interest and keeps them at the forefront of his concern throughout his presentation without sacrificing the integrity of his subject. Olson has excellent credentials as both a teacher and a scholar. He taught at Bethel College and Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, for more than 15 years, including a long-running course on which this book is based. He is also an accomplished author of both popular and academic works as well as an experienced editor, completing in 1998 a period of service in that capacity for the Christian Scholar's Review. He has recently moved to Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University to take up a senior teaching position in theology.
The Story of Christian Theology is marked by two significant features that distinguish it from most other works of its type. The first is its intended audience. At the outset, Olson offers his rationale for writing the book with the observation that while many works on historical theology are available, few have been written for those with little or no background in either theology or its history. He has sought to address this gap in the literature by writing primarily for "the untutored Christian layperson or student as well as for the interested Christian pastor." The book makes no claim of originality; instead, it seeks to make a contribution to the field by providing a "modest survey of the main highlights of Christian historical theology for readers without even a modicum of previous knowledge or understanding of that fascinating story." To this end Olson has crafted a "user-friendly" text, with minimal use of technical language and clear explanations of such terminology where its use is required. Moreover, Olson clearly sets out the context in which the ideas he discusses were developed and explains their importance for Christian life and faith.
A second significant feature ...