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A Concise History of Christian Thought, Revised and Expanded Edition

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"Lane's learned and lucid survey of the history of theology will be treasured by teachers and students for years to come. It will be used with great profit as both an introductory text and a handy reference book."--Douglas A. Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School


A Concise History of Christian Thought offers a succinct, readable survey of key Christian thinkers and significant theological developments from the church's inception to the present. Tony Lane surveys over one hundred important Christian thinkers ranging from Origen and Justin Martyr, to Anselm and Aquinas, to Luther and Menno Simons, to John Hicks and Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). With the modern period especially, Lane has also introduced an element of evaluation as a guide to the reader, though the primary aim is to allow the thinkers to speak for themselves.

The book is divided into five parts: (1) The Church Fathers to AD 500; (2) The Eastern Tradition; (3) The Medieval West; (4) Reformation and Reaction; and (5) Christian Thought in the Modern World. In each section, the reader will encounter surveys of key Christian thinkers, major creeds, councils, and documents. Representative extracts allow the reader to hear from each of the key thinkers covered in his or her own words.

After having sold more than 50,000 copies in its earlier editions, the current edition has been refined and updated throughout and includes new material on key contemporary thinkers. 


"This is a book that will prove exceptionally useful not only to students but also to all those Christians who know many of the names of the great Christian thinkers of past and present but, in many cases, have only the vaguest impression of what they actually thought. Here they can find a succinct, accurate, readily intelligible, and interesting account of the thought of Cyril of Alexandria, John Wyclif, Jonathan Edwards, Reinhold Niebuhr, Hans Küng, and many others, mostly individual theologians but also including some creeds, confessions, and councils. Each period has a brief scene-setting introduction, and each thinker is not only described but also quoted--a valuable feature because even a brief paragraph gives the reader something of the 'flavor' of each person's work."--Richard Bauckham, emeritus professor of New Testament, University of St. Andrews

"A Concise History of Christian Thought
offers readers a comprehensive view of the broad sweep of Christian theology throughout the ages. It is reliable, readable, and unique in offering well-chosen representative selections from many great thinkers of the past and present. Unlike some treatments of the subject, it includes minority theologies not part of the magisterial traditions. I recommend this revision of Tony Lane's earlier volume to readers interested in a fairly concise handbook of the history of theology."--Roger E. Olson, professor of theology, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University; author of The Story of Christian Theology

"Lane's learned and lucid survey of the history of theology will be treasured by teachers and students for years to come. Organized as it is around brief but solid descriptions of over one hundred major thinkers and more than two dozen church councils, papal encyclicals, and confessions, it will be used with great profit as both an introductory text and a handy reference book."--Douglas A. Sweeney, professor of church history and the history of Christian thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

The Author

  1. Tony Lane

    Tony Lane

    Anthony N. S. Lane (DD, University of Oxford) is professor of historical doctrine at the London School of Theology. He is the author of A Concise History of Christian Thought, John Calvin: Student of the Church Fathers, and Justification by...

    Continue reading about Tony Lane


"[Lane] has written both a strong introductory text and a handy reference book surveying key Christian thinkers and theological developments from the Church's inception to the present day. . . . The thinkers chosen include mainstream and well-known theologians as well as theologians of the ethnic minority, with each thinker not only described but quoted. This succinct yet comprehensive edition can be used by students and lay readers seeking a broad sweep of Christian theology throughout the centuries. It would be a valuable addition to all public library Christian theology history collections and a prized title for those libraries with readers needing a quick, understanding guide that lets the primary sources speak for themselves. Because this edition has been refined and updated throughout and includes new material on contemporary thinkers, it is also recommended for libraries owning the previous edition."--Leroy Hommerding, Library Journal

"[Lane] has done a great service by offering his revised and expanded edition of A Concise History of Christian Thought. This work is a concise, readable survey. . . . The number of books devoted to church history is vast, but Lane's work distinguishes itself from many by its excellent format. . . . The average entry receives a little over two pages of fact-filled, relevant information that gets to the point and shows why the discussed person, creed, council, document, etc., was important in the development of Christian thought. This helpful format avoids the brevity of dictionary-like definitions while escaping overly long explanations that can lose the reader who is looking for the most essential information on a person or topic. . . . This book delivers what it offers--a concise history of Christian thought. Thus, it is a helpful resource for church leaders, students, and all who are interested in church history and the development of Christian theology. For this reviewer, A Concise History of Christian Thought continues to be a much-used reference work."--Michael J. Vlach, Master's Seminary Journal

"At least one book on the history of Christian thought belongs in every Christian library. If you have more, this concise history should be the one closest to the desk. Tony Lane . . . has produced a comprehensive introductory text that also functions well as a reference book. The text is reliable, well-written, and highly organized. . . . The reader is rewarded with introductions to more than one hundred major Christian thinkers, church councils, creeds, church confessions, and ecumenical documents. Those looking for a comprehensive text will find in this affordable book a valuable and informative addition to their library. . . . The collection is concise, as the title of the book claims, and certainly one of the most relevant to many readers."--Wolfgang Vondey, Pneuma Review

"This helpful volume provides a brief survey of key movements in the history of Christianity, highlighting important thinkers associated with these movements. Notably, Lane offers sample extracts from the writings of the individuals under discussion, giving the reader a taste of each person's work. Concise History is both a useful reference tool and a lucid introduction to the world of church history. Highly recommended."--Mark R. Stevenson, Emmaus Journal

"Now in a new revised and expanded edition [this work] continues to serve as a valuable introduction to Christian history. . . . Lane's selection is wide-ranging and provides a good overview of the church's major thinkers from the apologists to the World Council of Churches. . . . With this new edition, Lane has made some important additions, particularly from the twentieth century. . . . These contemporary entries provide significant perspectives that are not found in most historical introductions. . . . Lane's concise history continues to be a fine reference resource for those seeking a guide into the exciting world of Christian thought."--Mary Elizabeth Anderson, Sixteenth Century Journal

"[Lane] has produced a comprehensive overview spanning Christian thought. . . . Several strengths of Lane's work should be commended. First of all, his inclusions are numerous and varied. . . . Lane does well to introduce his subjects by letting them speak for themselves, as he includes primary selections and references throughout the work. . . . Another strength of the book is the depth to which Lane covers the subjects. The interconnected nature of the presentation points to Lane's extensive research. Lane shows that concise does not have to mean shallow and rudimentary. . . . The book is overall a good introduction to Christian thought through the centuries. It would be a good inclusion as a required text in an introductory church history course. The beginning student will be challenged by the breadth of information but will get a picture of the themes which have affected the church's history. This work can surely be the foundation to spur students to more specific studies on those themes that are introduced. The book also has value as a quick reference guide for the student or layperson, since he can go directly to the article on the particular subject in which he is interested. Tony Lane's A Concise History of Christian Thought is to be commended and would be a good addition to the library of any student, pastor, and layperson alike."--Steven L. James, Southwestern Journal of Theology