An ‘Updated’ Historical Theology Reading Plan for 2019


After more reflection, I’ve updated a suggested historical theological reading plan for 2019. I suggest reading the original post to see other recommended resources.

The update includes two changes. First, I’ve suggested you engage a primary source early and continuously throughout. Second, instead of suggesting Helm’s, John Calvin’s Ideas, I have now recommended a more accessible work, John Calvin as Teacher, Pastor, and Theologian by Randall Zachman.

  1. Begin by reading the introductory chapters in Alister McGrath, Historical Theology and Gregg Allison, Historical Theology. These introductions will help solidify what historical theology is, how it relates to other disciplines (e.g. exegesis, systematic theology, church history), and why it is important for the church today.
  2. Next, read the entirety of John D. Hannah, Our Legacy, for a relatively short overview of historical-theological development of important doctrinal topics (i.e. doctrine of God, salvation, ecclesiology, etc.).
  3. From Hannah, move to an age-specific text and match it with an age-appropriate reader. For instance, if you read Timothy George, The Theology of the Reformers, then also read sections of the Reformation Theology Reader by Denis Janz.
  4. If you picked the Reformation Reader, then read a work aimed at an individual in the Reformation era. For example, after you’ve read George, and selections of Janz, pick up John Calvin as Teacher, Pastor, and Theologian by Randall Zachman.
  5. Lastly, if you are aiming at the Reformation era, engage a primary source from the outset. Perhaps you could read through Calvin’s commentary on Romans and sections of his Institutes. 

Here is a suggested monthly plan for 2019:

  • January/February—McGrath and Allison introductions, moving to Hannah’s work (reading Calvin’s commentary on Romans).
  • March/April—Timothy George, The Theology of the Reformers and selections from Janz (still reading Calvin pm Romans. If finished, read Calvin’s Institutes).
  • May/June/July—Zachman, John Calvin as Teacher, Pastor, and Theologian (still reading Calvin).



*Note: The Institutes are 1,800 pages. Set a goal to read a few sections that may be of interest to you instead of trying to read through the whole thing during this program. However, reading through the entire work is something worth your time in the future.

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