In this 36-lecture course, you'll find an engaging way to explore profound religious questions and the many responses believers, scholars, and theologians have developed over more than 2,000 years. Through this series, Professor Cary reveals the enduring power of the Christian tradition - as both an intellectual discipline and a spiritual path.
These lectures begin at the very dawn of Christianity, as you examine some of the earliest examples of scripture recorded by the first communities of the faithful. You'll see how, over the centuries, these teachings developed into the orthodox teachings of the mainstream church as well as the divergent doctrines taught by splinter groups branded as "heretics." You'll explore the causes and outcomes of the split between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church during the Middle Ages and examine the explosion of the many Protestant groups that resulted from the Reformation in the 16th century. And finally, you'll come to the modern era, with a survey of the evolution of Christian thought in today's society - the ongoing story of how faith persists in an increasingly secularized world.
Each lecture illuminates the conceptual structure of Christian theology as it connects to spiritual practices such as prayer, worship, the use of sacraments, and the contemplation of religious icons. Through lucid and engaging explanations, they provide intriguing analyses of theological ideas in their unique historical, social, and biographical contexts to help you understand the power of each tradition within its particular time and place. The result is a sweeping survey that probes some of the most common questions about Christian faith over the centuries.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2008 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2008 The Great Courses
This is a great course with a great professor. He covered a wide range of deep topics in an easy to understand way. I would definitely look for other courses by him. I also thought that he offered a number of fascinating insights about why these theological issues matter. My only criticism is that the course would be better titled History of Protestant Theology orbsomething- it does not cover Eastern Orthodox or Catholic theology past the point where Protestant history splits off, which was a little disappointing. Overall a GREAT course.
Very good overview
Professor Cary was very knowledgeable
It was especially helpful the way Cary would compare and contrast throughout the course, such as the differences and similarities between the Eastern and Western churches, or those between Luther and Calvin to name a couple.
Each period of Christian thought was informative, but as my knowledge of medieval thought was especially sparse, Cary's lectures on Anselm, Aquinas, and others were particularly helpful.
Informative overview of the history of Christian thought.
I would have to rate it quite high for it`s clarity, listenability and overall informative-balance.
There were many insightful moments but my most memorable was the ending with reference to Hans Ur Von Balthasar.
A warm human, informed and balanced connection.
On one level yes, but on another level one sitting would not have enabled me to take it all in. I will definitely relisten to this book.
This is an excellent book for neophyte Protestants or for non-protestants interested in Protestantism and their view of Christian theology.
This was my first Great Courses audiobook and I enjoyed the detail and the comprehensive knowledge of the professor.
I liked the comprehensive nature of this series of lectures. I think it is important to put the modern church in its historical context. This course helped me better understand modern Roman Catholics, Eastern orthodox, pentecostals, fundamendalists, and my own progressive protestant church. It has given me a rich background to appreciate the challenges of modern theology and Christian community. It also gives perspective to parallel art, music, and political history.
Professor Cary is very easy to listen to and engaging. He is not judgmental about the different variations of Christian theology. He is intellectual yet sympathetic to diverse doctrines in the church. He takes great effort to define terms well.
No. This is something you want to soak up a little at a time. Like during long walks.
The material may be a little difficult to follow if you have no background in a Christian religion, but is easy to understand as a layperson. You may be disappointed if you want more history on Eastern orthodox traditions.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
My first quarter of Divinity School I had a history of Christian thought class. There were four or five courses in the series but we were only required to take one. The one I took covered approximately 600 to 1400 AD, which was an era that I knew almost nothing about. I learned a great deal in the class, but I was a bit frustrated by the teaching style. Mostly we were covering philosophical issues, but those philosophical and theological movements were abstracted from the broader history of the era. I need context to help frame the theological changes and give reasons for why the theological and philosophical shifts were occurring.
The History of Christian Theology course covers a much longer history (all of it) and necessarily went into less depth, but also gave much better context to the theological shifts. The lecturer assumed Christian faith and background, although explained the nuances of the theology well.
One of the features that I found most helpful was continually thinking about the implications to the average believer. As theology shifted, the questions that plagued the average believer, and the pastoral care needed also shifted. So simple returns to these basic questions and comparing different theological systems was very helpful.
Approximately half of the 19 hours was basic theology explanations and the history prior to the reformation. And the second half was reformation and the history since that time with the last four lectures on post reformation Catholic theology. If there is a weakness it is the focus on the Western Church. Eastern Christianity is covered well until the great Schism, but after the Schism, Eastern Orthodoxy is rarely referenced.
There is real critique about the shifts in Christian theology, but also broad ecumenical understanding. It isn’t until later in the course that I really started to be able to place the lecturer’s own theological roots. I think that most Christians would think he did a good job explaining their own area (or at least it seemed quite fair to me.)
I will pick up more lectures by Philip Cary and probably other lectures by others in Theology and Christianity as well.
wonderful review of the varios roads Christianity has tsken over the years. Veey conversstional presentation style, too.
Summarizes the origin of the major denominations within Christendom in a thorough and engaging way.
Very engaging, very complete.
19 hours in one sitting is not likely, but wow. Maybe 4 or 5 sittings if I had the time and focus.
Do more courses, Dr. Cary!
Avid reader until vision impairment set in. Now an avid listener!
I would only if the friend was more interested in abstract philosophy than in the lived experience of Christianity over time. This is my overall problem with the lecture series. It's probably unrealistic to expect from a philosophy/theology professor, but I missed the social context. It's often the WHY, not the WHAT, that makes religious development so interesting. E.g., what were the influences on Augustine that sparked him to fashion a theology that was relatively more "rational" than Dionysus's heavily mystical version in the east? How did ordinary Christians assume these theological changes into their worship and everyday experiences? In other words, how did theological developments come about and what differences did they make?
Honestly, I was too disappointed overall to be struck by any individual moments.
I wish his lectures had been less extemporaneous and more structured. He was often repetitious in ways that didn't aid understanding. Also I sometimes found his informality about the subject matter a bit jarring.
No, just didn't care for it.
None of my comments are meant to detract from Professor Cary's knowledge and his obvious love of his subject. He is erudite and enthusiastic; just not my cup of tea.
I will very likely listen to this again. There are a lot of good tidbits of information in regards to how the churches, denominations, etc., started to differ and became the churches we know today.
The course is ambitious to try to cover 2,000 years of church theology, but I think the author does a great job summarizing most of the key events and formations of theology for such a large span of time. The lecturer kept my attention more than I expected, and I've started getting more of "The Great Courses" audio books because of the experience with this one.
"An excellent and enjoyable overview"
The lecturer obviously knows his subject and delivers the material clearly and enthusiastically.
Well obviously there aren't characters in this sort of book. I found the section on the different strands of protestant theology during the reformation most informative but the information on the Catholic response most thought provoking. Prof Cary was remarkably even handed throughout.
It's far too long for that and you need to take it in chunks to let the material settle into your memory. After I finished it I went straight back too replay some of the more important lectures.
I know quite a lot about this stuff so some of it was, for me, a little Theology 101, but still worth listening to. I think it only really suitable for those sympathetic to Christianity. An atheist listener may well find it all rather too bizarre to persevere with. For those who have an understanding of faith, particularly if they wish to know more about where other denominations than their own are coming from I highly reccomend it.
what sums this up is the quote from Professor cary that history does not matter it is theology that matters
some of the great courses series on religion are really good and actually take the historical critical view of the bible which actually tells you something of the time these books were wrote and what it can tell us
often got his words mixed up
most of it that is historically inaccurate
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