Volume 17 - Issue 2

A survey of historical theology articles 1989–90

By Tony Lane

This article surveys nineteen English-language periodicals which are likely to be of interest to theological students. For reasons of space it is not possible to summarize all of the relevant articles in these journals, but the excluded articles are all listed at the end.


CTJ                   Calvin Theological Journal

CH                   Church History

Ch                    Churchman

EQ                   Evangelical Quarterly

ERT                  Evangelical Review of Theology

ExA                  Ex Auditu

HTR                 Harvard Theological Review

Int                    Interpretation

JEH                  Journal of Ecclesiastical History

JETS                 Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

JTS                   Journal of Theological Studies

MT                   Modern Theology

SBET                Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

SJT                   Scottish Journal of Theology

SCJ                   Sixteenth Century Journal

Th                    Theology

TB                    Tyndale Bulletin

VE                    Vox Evangelica

WTJ                 Westminster Theological Journal

The early church

V.K. Downing in ‘The Doctrine of Regeneration in the Second Century’, ERT 14 (1990), pp. 99–112, seeks to trace evangelical emphases in the teaching of the earliest Fathers. He acknowledges that regeneration is associated with baptism, but claims that repentance and faith are also presupposed. The theme of baptism in the early church is also taken up by J.P.T. Hunt, in ‘Colossians 2:11–12, the Circumcision/Baptism Analogy, and Infant Baptism’, TB 41 (1990), pp. 227–244. He shows how the earliest discussions of infant baptism (Tertullian and Origen) mention no link with circumcision. The first time that we see such a link being made (Cyprian) it looks as if it is being applied to an already existing practice (infant baptism). Again, Colossians 2:11–12 was not used in connection with infant baptism until the fourth century. Thus the use of the analogy with circumcision appears to be an argument that emerges late in the day to support a well-established practice.

A number of articles discuss aspects of particular early figures. Trevor Hart in ‘The Two Soteriological Traditions of Alexandria’, EQ 61 (1989), pp. 239–259, considers the way in which the early church wrestled with the issue of contextualization. He compares the manner in which Clement and Athanasius each relate to their Platonist culture. Clement, in seeking to make the gospel relevant, ends up reducing it to Greek thought; Athanasius applies the gospel to his culture in a way that challenges the latter’s foundations. P.W.L. Walker in ‘Gospel Sites and Holy Places’, TB 41 (1990), pp. 89–108, presents a fascinating contrast between the attitude of two fourth-century bishops in Palestine. Eusebius of Caesarea is the careful historian with a concern for authenticity which makes him sceptical about extravagant claims, e.g. about the ‘true cross’. Cyril of Jerusalem, by contrast, is the director of pilgrims who cares less about authenticity and who cultivates a ‘sacramental’ view of the ‘holy places’.

Interest in the Arian controversy shows no sign of abating. Alvyn Pettersen, ‘The Arian Context of Athanasius of Alexandra’s Tomus ad Antiochenos VII’, JEH 41 (1990), pp. 183–198, argues against the widespread view that this document (ad 362) opposes the teaching of Apollinarius. The affirmation that Christ’s body was not ἄψυχου (without a soul) makes sense in the context of the anti-Arian stance of the document. But it is not precise enough to exclude ‘Apollinarianism’ and the evidence is that Apollinarius remained on good terms with the authors of the Tome. Another aspect of the Arian controversy is considered by Graham Keith. ‘Our Knowledge of God: The Relevance of the Debate between Eunomius and the Cappadocians’, TB 41 (1990), pp. 60–88, sets the debate out carefully and lucidly. Eunomius is infamous for his claim that ‘God does not know anything more about his essence than we do’ (p. 73)! The conclusion draws some lessons from the debate, showing the unfortunate consequences of some aspects of the Cappadocians’ case. The Arian controversy is also discussed by Joseph T. Lienhard, in ‘Basil of Caesarea, Marcellus of Ancyra, and “Sabellius” ’, CH 58 (1989), pp. 157–167. Basil sought to unite the church around support of his own formula of one ousia and three hypostases, and opposition to the teaching of Marcellus. But a lingering support for Marcellus and suspicion towards Basil’s own programme were both greater than he realized. Furthermore, he confused the teaching of Marcellus and Sabellius, blending the two together into one.

The Cappadocians feature again in an article by Verna E.F. Harrison, ‘Male and Female in Cappadocian Theology’, JTS 41 (1990), pp. 441–471. She shows how all three of the Cappadocian fathers ‘are surely a long way from the misogyny which is sometimes ascribed uncritically to all early Christians’ (p. 471). They deny that there is gender in the eternal godhead, seeing it as only a temporary phenomemon within humanity. Richard Kyle in ‘Nestorius: The Partial Rehabilitation of a Heretic’, JETS 32 (1989), pp. 73–83, poses the old question of whether or not Nestorius was a Nestorian. He concludes by acquitting the mature Nestorius, but (in my opinion) only by failing to consider the full force of the case against him. Colin Gunton in ‘Augustine, the Trinity and the Theological Crisis of the West’, SJT 43 (1990), pp. 33–58, points to various weaknesses in Augustine’s doctrine of the Trinity and sees them as paving the way for agnosticism and atheism. These weaknesses are especially the idea that God is essentially unknowable and also the relegation of the Trinity to secondary importance compared with the unity of God.

Middle Ages

D.E. Nineham considers a fascinating, though little known, ninth-century controversy in ‘Gottschalk of Orbais: Reactionary or Precursor of the Reformation?’, JEH 40 (1989), pp. 1–18. Gottschalk held to a strictly Augustinian doctrine of predestination, for which he was tortured and imprisoned, despite the fact that many of the leading theologians of the day took his side. The author skilfully disentangles the theological issues and also shows how these were complicated by factors of personality, race and politics, as well as pastoral concerns.

Anselm of Canterbury is the subject of three articles which relate him to others. M.T. Clanchy, ‘Abelard’s Mockery of St Anselm’, JEH 41 (1990), pp. 1–23, is a detailed analysis of Abelard’s one, unflattering, reference to Anselm. The author asks why Abelard chose to attack Anselm in this way and, by looking below the surface of what is said, argues that Anselm’s work on the incarnation had served as a basis of Abelard’s condemnation in 1121. Trevor Hart in ‘Anselm of Canterbury and John Macleod Campbell: Where Opposites Meet?’, EQ 62 (1990), pp. 311–333, compares the two theologians with a view to showing that they are not as different as is often held. His aim is in particular to question the generally received evangelical assessment of Campbell. He succeeds in showing that he is not as far from an evangelical approach as is often supposed. There is, however, one serious weakness. Campbell is repeatedly quoted as believing that a penal interpretation of the cross involves seeing Christ’s sufferings as purely physical (pp. 327–330). But while this charge might apply to some earlier traditions, in the evangelical tradition from the time of the Reformation the atoning work of Christ is seen primarily in terms of the spiritual suffering of separation from the Father. G. Watson in ‘A Study of St Anselm’s Soteriology and Karl Barth’s Theological Method’, SJT 42 (1989), pp. 493–512, assesses Barth’s interpretation of Anselm. He concludes by asking of Barth ‘whether his criticisms of St Anselm’s presentation do not reveal a tendency in his theological method of raising to understanding the particularity of the humanity of Jesus’ life-act through its direct association with the inconceivable act in which God posits himself, that is, to convert the contingency and relativity of creaturely being into an aspect of an all-encompassing idea’ (pp. 511f.).

Another great medieval exponent of the cross is Thomas Aquinas, whose contribution is expounded by Aidan Nichols in his ‘St Thomas Aquinas on the Passion of Christ: A Reading of Summa Theologiae IIIa, q.46’, SJT 43 (1990), pp-447–459. He shows how Thomas argues that the cross, while not absolutely necessary, is the most fitting way for God to save us.


David C. Steinmetz in ‘The Reformation and the Ten Commandments’, Int 43 (1989), pp. 256–266, discusses different attitudes to the first commandment and in particular to the issue of images. He shows the differences between the Reformed (Carlstadt, Zwingli, Bullinger and Calvin), Lutheran (Luther) and Roman Catholic (Eck and Trent) traditions. The debate concerned whether or not the Ten Commandments prohibit all images and whether, if they do, this prohibition is binding on Christians. The lines of demarcation are little altered today.

The topic of baptism crops up again in an issue of SBET (7:1, 1989). Robert Letham expounds the doctrine of ‘Baptism in the Writings of the Reformers’ (pp. 21–44). He expounds Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon and Bullinger, pointing to the weaknesses of each. These weaknesses he sees as overcome in Bucer, Calvin and Vermigli. He concludes by pointing out that the Reformers and the Anabaptists differed in the exegesis of the NT because they approached it from different world-views. He helpfully analyses five basic differences which stand between them. The other side is presented by John Colwell in ‘Alternative Approaches to Believer’s Baptism’ (pp. 3–20), which covers Pilgrim Marpeck (the Anabaptist), John Bunyan and Karl Barth. He is critical of Bunyan for treating baptism as a secondary matter and commends the other two for taking it more seriously.

Moving to the other sacrament, Alister McGrath has written on ‘The Eucharist: Reassessing Zwingli’, Th 93 (1990), pp. 13–19. He presents Zwingli’s approach as one of ‘transsignification’ (to use a modern Catholic term), in which the Eucharist presents the narrative of Christ’s death and so provides the community of faith with a sense of historical location. He concedes that for many this will be seen as an inadequate doctrine of the Eucharist, but considers it fruitful as a starting point. In a rather different article, D.A. Scales, ‘Thomas Cranmer’s “True and Catholick Doctrine of the Sacrament” ’, Ch 104 (1990), pp. 102–131, expounds Cranmer’s doctrine with a particular emphasis on his opposition to the Roman Catholic doctrine. He shows a wide knowledge of Cranmer’s writings, but ignores the secondary literature, such as the work of Peter Brooks.

Peter Matheson in ‘The Hammer, the Sickle and the Rainbow’, Th 93 (1990), pp. 20–26, presents a lively picture of Thomas Müntzer on the 500th anniversary of his birth. He seeks to disentangle the religious, political and socio-economic sides of Müntzer and to rescue him both from his detractors and from the Marxist historians.

As always, there are a number of articles about Calvin. Susan E. Schreiner, ‘Exegesis and Double Justice in Calvin’s Sermons on Job’, CH 58 (1989), pp. 322–338, shows how Calvin’s exposition relates to his medieval predecessors: Gregory, Maimonides, Aquinas and Lyra. In particular, she shows how Calvin handles texts which seem to point to a higher justice of God before which even the sinless cannot stand—and the way in which he draws back from some possible implications of this. Randall C. Zachman in ‘Jesus Christ as the image of God in Calvin’s Theology’, CTJ 25 (1990), pp. 45–62, sees this theme as the centre of Calvin’s Christology. He maintains that Calvin, by focusing his Christology on Christ as the image of God, manages to overcome a number of false dichotomies, such as that between the knowledge of God as creator and redeemer and that between an incarnational and a spirit Christology.

Richard Muller in ‘Fides and Cognitio in Relation to the Problem of Intellect and Will in the Theology of John Calvin’, CTJ 25 (1990), pp. 207–224, warns against the tendency of some recent scholarship to portray Calvin’s view of faith as purely ‘intellectualist’. He emphasizes the non-technical and anti-speculative nature of Calvin’s thought and also traces the influence upon Calvin at this point of the medieval tradition. He concludes that, for Calvin, faith involves the will as well as the intellect. Attempts to create a sharp contrast between an intellectualism of Calvin and the voluntarism of later Reformed theology are misguided. Richard Muller has written extensively on the relation between the founders of Reformed theology (such as Calvin, Bullinger and Vermigli) and post-Reformation Reformed scholasticism. His thesis is that there is far more continuity between these two phases than it has of late been fashionable to allow. His case is ably and conveniently summarized by Martin I. Klauber, in ‘Continuity and Discontinuity in Post-Reformation Reformed Theology: An Evaluation of the Muller Thesis’, JETS 33 (1990), pp. 467–475.

Jonathan H. Rainbow, ‘Double Grace: John Calvin’s View of the Relationship of Justification and Sanctification’, ExA 5 (1989), pp. 99–105, summarizes Calvin’s thought in this area. He does so in a very clear manner, though it is an unfortunate slip to say that Calvin’s doctrine ‘severs’ justification and ethical behaviour (p. 101). As the author goes on to state, Calvin distinguishes them but they cannot be separated: you cannot have one without the other. John Kelsay in ‘Prayer and Ethics: Reflections on Calvin and Barth’, HTR 82 (1989), pp. 169–184, compares the way in which these two Reformed theologians justify the practice of prayer. Calvin lays the ground for a Reformed spirituality in a way that Barth does not. The differences between them he sees rooted especially in the fact that Barth is reacting against Kant.

In an important article, Christopher Fitzsimons Allison considers ‘The Pastoral and Political Implications of Trent on Justification: a Response to the ARCIC Agreed Statement Salvation and the Church’, Ch 103 (1989), pp. 15–31. He criticizes the statement for ignoring certain key issues. Crucial to these is Trent’s denial that sin properly so called cannot coexist with a state of grace, that the Christian is not ‘simul iustus et peccator’. This has serious pastoral and political implications.


Richard A. Muller, ‘Arminius and the Scholastic Tradition’, CTJ 24 (1989), pp. 263–277, gives a foretaste of his forthcoming book on Arminius. He shows how mistaken it is to portray Arminius as a Melanchthonian humanist fighting against Aristotelian scholasticism. Arminius was deeply influenced by medieval scholasticism (especially Aquinas) and was, like his opponents, an heir of the ‘Calvinist Thomism’ of the preceding generations.

There are three articles on Puritan spirituality. R. Tudor Jones, ‘Union with Christ: The Existential Nerve of Puritan Piety’, TB 41 (1990), pp. 186–208, discusses an aspect of Puritanism that has been unjustly neglected. Union with Christ is seen as the beginning and foundation of Christian life. Charles L. Cohen, ‘Two Biblical Models of Conversion: An Example of Puritan Hermeneutics’, CH 58 (1989), pp. 182–196, shows how Lydia and David were used by the Puritans to exemplify the process of conversion. He sheds light both on the different Puritan understandings of conversion and on the way in which they handled the Bible. R.M. Hawkes in ‘The Logic of Assurance in English Puritan Theology’, WTJ 52 (1990), pp. 247–261, offers a sympathetic exposition of the Puritans’ teaching. He seeks to show how they avoided ‘being trapped between the passive tendency of saving faith and the necessity for active obedience in the Christian life’ (p. 260).

Michael Root in ‘Schleiermacher as Innovator and Inheritor; God, Dependence, and Election’, SJT 43 (1990), pp. 87–110, reminds us that Schleiermacher was not only a radical innovator, but also in some respects ‘a surprisingly dutiful son of the Western theological tradition’ (p. 87). He examines Schleiermacher’s understanding of the relation between God and the world in particular, and shows how in some respects he is one of the most consistent exponents ever of ‘the strict Augustinian—Calvinist doctrine of election’.

Harold H. Rowdon in ‘The Brethren Concept of Sainthood’, VE 20 (1990), pp. 91–102, expounds the distinctive views of J.N. Darby and shows how they have to a limited extent made their mark upon the teaching of the Open Brethren. His helpful conclusions point to the way in which even those who are most zealously opposed to tradition cannot avoid forming a new tradition of their own.

Richard A. Muller, ‘Karl Barth and the Path of Theology into the Twentieth Century: Historical Observations’, WTJ 51 (1989), pp. 25–50, offers a provocative and persuasive reinterpretation of Barth’s significance. He sees considerably more continuity than is normal between theology pre-and post-1919/20. Barth’s rebellion was ‘the revolt of a group of third-generation Ritschlians against some of the premises and concerns of the Ritschlian program’ (p. 40). Barth’s relation to the last century is also the theme of Daniel B. Clendenin, ‘A Conscious Perplexity: Barth’s Interpretation of Schleiermacher’, WTJ 52 (1990), pp. 281–301. He identifies four major problems that Barth has with Schleiermacher and concludes that his criticisms are justified. Barth’s relation to the patristic tradition is considered by Hans Boersma, in ‘Alexandrian or Antiochian? A Dilemma in Barth’s Christology’, WTJ 52 (1990), pp. 263–280. He argues against Waldrop’s contention that Barth’s Christology is Alexandrian.

Finally, Richard Bauckham in ‘Moltmann’s Theology of Hope Revisited’, SJT 42 (1989), pp. 199–214, looks back at ‘one of the truly great theological works of the last few decades’. He focuses attention in particular on the resurrection of Jesus, the heart of Moltmann’s book, expounding it appreciatively.

Other articles

Marvin Anderson, ‘John Calvin: Biblical Preacher (1539–1564)’, SJT 42 (1989), pp. 167–181.

Dennis Bielfeldt, ‘Luther, Metaphor, and Theological Language’, MT 6 (1990), pp. 121–135.

Lyle D. Bierma, ‘The Role of Covenant Theology in Early Reformed Orthodoxy’, SCJ 21 (1990), pp. 453–462.

Mark S. Burrows, ‘Jean Gerson after Constance: “Via Media et Regia” as a Revision of the Ockhamist Covenant’, CH 59 (1990), pp. 467–481.

H. Chadwick, ‘Ego Berengarius’, JTS 40 (1989), pp. 414–445.

Elizabeth A. Clark, ‘New Perspectives on the Origenist Controversy: Human Embodiment and Ascetic Strategies’, CH 59 (1990), pp. 145–162.

Graham Cole, ‘Sola Scriptura: Some Historical and Contemporary Perspectives’, Ch 104 (1990), pp. 20–34.

Agnes Cunningham, ‘From Strangers to Citizens: Eschatology in the Patristic Era’, ExA 6 (1990), pp. 73–85.

Trevor Hart, ‘Humankind in Christ and Christ in Humankind: Salvation as Participation in our Substitute in the Theology of John Calvin’, SJT 42 (1989), pp. 67–84.

Michael J. Hollerich, ‘Religion and Politics in the Writings of Eusebius: Reassessing the First “Court Theologian” ’, CH 59 (1990), pp. 309–325.

Martin I. Klauber, ‘Reason, Revelation, and Cartesianism: Louis Tronchin and Enlightened Orthodoxy in Late Seventeenth-Century Geneva’, CH 59 (1990), pp. 326–339.

Peter J. Leithart, ‘That Eminent Pagan: Calvin’s Use of Cicero in Institutes 1.1–5’, WTJ 52 (1990), pp. 1–12.

Robert Letham, ‘Amandus Polanus: A Neglected Theologian?’, SCJ 21 (1990), pp. 463–476.

H.D. McDonald, ‘Process Christology’, VE 20 (1990), pp. 43–55.

Peter Matheson, ‘Thomas Müntzer’s Marginal Comments on Tertullian’, JTS 41 (1990), pp. 76–90.

Randall E. Otto, ‘The Solidarity of Mankind in Jonathan Edwards’ Doctrine of Original Sin’, EQ 62 (1990), pp. 205–221.

Alan Spence, ‘John Owen and Trinitarian Agency’, SJT 43 (1990), pp. 157–173.

Stephen Strehle, ‘The Extent of the Atonement and the Synod of Dort’, WTJ 51 (1989), pp. 1–23.

R.E.H. Uprichard, ‘The Eldership in Martin Bucer and John Calvin’, EQ 61 (1989), pp. 21–37.

John Wenham, ‘Fifty Years of Evangelical Biblical Research: Retrospect and Prospect’, Ch 103 (1989), pp. 209–218.

Tony Lane

London School of Theology