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Theologians You Should Know: An Introduction: From the Apostolic Fathers to the 21st Century (Reeves)

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Whether you realize it or not, you are the beneficiary of centuries of careful study and reflection on God's Word. The writings and teachings of figures from the past are crucial to what the church believes today. But just like intriguing guests of honor at a dinner party, these theologians can be intimidating to get to know.

Introducing you to the lives and thought of figures such as the Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Karl Barth, and others, this book makes the writings of these significant theologians accessible and approachable—opening up for you the riches of church history and enlarging your vision of God and his plan for the world.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Snobs, Bumpkins, and Dinosaurs

  1. Only Let Me Reach Jesus Christ!: The Apostalic Fathers
  2. To Arms!: Justin Martyr and Irenaeus
  3. Against the World: Athanasius
  4. Loving Wisdom: Augustine
  5. Faith Seeking Understanding: Anselm
  6. The Dumb Ox: Thomas Aquinas


  1. The Word Did Everything: Martin Luther
  2. Knowing a Loving God: John Calvin
  3. Let Us Seek Heaven: John Owen
  4. America's Theologian: Jonathan Edwards
  5. The Father of Modern Theology: Friedrich Schleiermacher
  6. The Bombshell in the Playground of the Theologians: Karl Barth
  7. The Puritan Theologizer: J. I. Packer



Michael Reeves (PhD, King’s College, London) is president and professor of theology at Union School of Theology in Oxford.



“Historical theology is the study of the formulation of doctrine from the church of the past. As such, it provides a storehouse of wisdom, a wonderful legacy handed down from earlier theologians to the church today. Though hundreds of theologians contributed to this legacy, Michael Reeves introduces us to the theologians you should know. It is one of the best introductions to historical theology and its purveyors that exists!” - Gregg R. Allison, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Among our ‘great cloud of witnesses’ are monumental theologians—Augustine, Calvin, Edwards, and more—who have plumbed the depths of God’s truth, that we might know God better. Theologians You Should Know reintroduces these figures in a fresh, incisive, and authoritative manner.” - Thomas S. Kidd, Distinguished Professor of History, Baylor University; author, The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America

“Michael Reeves helps readers engage with great Christian thinkers of the past in a critical and appreciative manner. The educated layperson and the thoughtful church leader will find themselves informed and edified by this book.” - Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary; author, The Creedal Imperative and Luther on the Christian Life

“What a marvelous introduction to the greatest giants of the faith! Michael Reeves has done us a tremendous service by pulling back the curtain of the past and throwing open the window of history to allow, as C. S. Lewis so felicitously put it, ‘the clean sea breeze of the centuries’ to blow through our minds. From Irenaeus to Barth and Athanasius to Packer, they’re all here—a treasure trove of wisdom and insight!” - Todd Wilson, Senior Pastor, Calvary Memorial Church, Oak Park, Illinois; author, Real Christian and The Pastor Theologian

“This fascinating volume covers the massive influence of great thinkers, apologists, and ‘death wish’ martyrs, like ‘food for wild beasts’ Ignatius, the courageous alleged murderer and ‘black dwarf’ Athanasius, and the friendly giant Aquinas, all of whom faced the challenges we face. Reeves breathes life into dead men, with historical writing that’s about as good as it gets—full of interest, burningly relevant, and totally scintillating. Christians need to rediscover their roots, if only to prevent them from poisoning the church’s new shoots with ancient heresies. Ignorance is not bliss. Let Reeves tell you why.” - Greg Haslam, Senior Minister, Westminster Chapel, London

“Someone has suggested that history only repeats itself because no one bothered to listen the first time around. Reeves invites us to listen to our Christian history and to learn from it, telling the stories with energy and humor. He introduces us to great thinkers who faced questions and problems uncannily like our own, and who found answers in the Scriptures that we would do well to reflect on. This is an important and wonderfully written book that every thoughtful Christian will enjoy and will benefit greatly from.” - Steve Holmes, Senior Lecturer in Theology, University of St. Andrews   

“Today, evangelical Christians too often read the Bible as if it had just dropped out of heaven, with little or no appreciation of church history. Michael Reeves offers a good corrective to this with his very readable introduction to many of the key figures and works of the early church.” - Tony Lane, Professor of Historical Theology, London School of Theology