Since graduating seminary I’ve been doing some personal study projects to keep learning. My initial triad was Christ’s resurrection (systematic theology), Hebrews (Bible), and Anselm (historical theology). I started a new triad during the summer of 2010, focusing on Habakkuk (Bible), justification (systematic theology), and then classic texts of pre-reformation church history (historical theology). Now that I’ve finished Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy, my final pre-reformation text, I’m considering that second triad done.
Through my pre-reformation study, I got some good exposure to some of the theologians I wanted to become familiar with, like the Cappadocians, Boethius, Gregory the Great, and John of Damascus. Letham’s The Holy Trinity was an especially significant book for me. The justification study was all too brief, and there were lots of conversations that I was only able to skim over briefly, such as the Piper-Wright debate – but it affected me personally and helped ground me in at least the basics of what justification means. Hebrews and Habakkuk will be life-long books to struggle with (I always find its the Bible that is most inexhaustible). My resurrection project is finished, although I continue to tweak the article I wrote on how Christ’s resurrection relates to his messianic offices, hoping to shorten it enough to submit it for publication.
Now, for 2011, I am doing away with triads to focus in on historical theology, and in particular Anselm. He is my abiding interest, and I now feel ready to specialize more after having focused in diverse fields for breadth. One book that I am going to particularly sit with this year is Karl Barth’s Fides Quaerens Intellectum: Anselm’s Proof of the Existence of God in the Context of His Theological Scheme. My goal is to make this book as familiar and comfortable to me as Bilbo’s hobbit hole was to him. I want to so thoroughly ingest it that its thought patterns and content become well familiar territory, like the sidewalk outside my front door or the ceiling of my bedroom. Sometimes a narrow door is the path to a much wider terrain, and I think that narrowing in on this one relatively small piece of scholarship will be a strategic stepping stone that will open up lots of further doors. In my next post I will talk about why.