Preparation for University

Hello all,

I’ve been a member of this forum for a few days now, I have been reading a lot of threads created by other users on a variety of topics and it’s only making me more excited for starting my course at University in September.

I’m going to be studying for a BA Honours in Theology and Religious Studies.

I was just wondering if anyone could recommend some books or cds/audio files which would be beneficial to study prior to my course starting. I have a few books already which I have been reading, one is ‘Theology, The Basics’ written by Alister E. McGrath. The majority of the other books are purely from a Roman Catholic/Catholic standpoint so they are still beneficial however limit me to what I can learn about other faiths and topics.

If someone requests for me to tell them the modules that I’m going to study then I can easily do so. But if not, I would like to know which books or other forms of information do you suggest me studying for basic theology and the study of religion?

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post, any feedback/reply is greatly appreciated! :blush:

Mark 14:62
“Are You the Christ, the Son of the Living God?”

And Jesus replied,

“I AM; and you shall see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven.”

The OUP ‘Very Short Introductions’ to Theology, the New Testament, and the Old Testament are well worth reading. If you’re especially interested, there’s also a good Biblical Archaeology one.

If you want a taste of historical theology, then I’d recommend any of the following: the Penguin Classics “Early Christian Writings”; Henry Chadwick’s “The Early Church”; Peter Brown’s biography of Augustine; and, more up-to date than the above, MacCulloch’s history of the Reformation.

For modern theology, it’s worth starting with Barth, who dominates 20th century Christian theology. Don’t go near any of the big books; the “Dogmatics in Outline” is his own excellent introduction to his theology, and easy to navigate because it’s based on the Apostles’ Creed. The Catholic equivalent, though not as influential, might be (the then) Joseph Ratzinger’s “Introduction to Christianity.”

Try a few of those and see what you’d like. I’d recommend doing the VSIs first!

Hi Novocastrian,

I wasn’t expecting so many suggestions! They all seem like great choices and as you have recommended, I think I’ll begin with the VSIs first and then move onto Joseph Ratzinger’s “Introduction to Christianity” and Barths “Dogmatics in Outline”.

Thank you very much for your reply!

I probably shouldn’t comment because my experience would be considered outmoded by many.

I had very little education in philosophy or theology when I started college. i had no idea what to study or whether. When I began college, the very first thing in the philosophy series was a course in logic. It was believed that one couldn’t get very far into a lot of theological or philosophical works without a pretty good grounding in logic. It was primarily Aristotelian. It actually did make it easier to understand a lot of later things.

As to theology, I’m afraid I can’t recall what, exactly the first things were. I believe a course in the New Testament, followed then by Augustine and Aquinas, then the largely French Christian “existentialists”, then more modern stuff.

That was in a Jesuit university, and various things sort of parallelled others. I had what was a double major in literature and philosophy with minors in political science and theology. Those courses really did parallel one another back then. There is, for example, a great deal of theology and philosophy in literature, but one needs some backgrounding to really get into the third.

Hi Ridgerunner,

I will definitely look into some books on Philosophy and Logic.

Thanks very much for your reply!

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book: Socratic Logic - Peter Kreeft. I’d like to study it at some point for my own enrichment. Anything by Peter Kreeft is good. :thumbsup:

A ‘History of Christianity’ by Prof. Diarmaid MacCulloch (a hugely respected historian of Christianity, prof at Oxford University) is a superb wide-ranging book that will allow you to better understand the Church(es) and how the Church has been shaped throughout history. It talks very much to the ‘Religious Studies’ half of your course.

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