Fortress Press

The Challenge of History: Readings in Modern Theology

The Challenge of History

Readings in Modern Theology

Christophe Chalamet (Editor)


The advent of the modern, historical, and critical methods of reading Scripture is one of the most significant events in the last five hundred years of Christian history and theology. New questions arose in the course of that history that led to new, sometimes troubling answers. New ways of considering Scripture were articulated. The crisis in which academic Christian theology has found itself for approximately two hundred years is directly related to the emergence of new ways of studying--and criticizing--the Bible.

The Challenge of History traces the trajectory of these developments, presenting key readings from over thirty-five theologians--from Erasmus to Pannenberg--whose writings relate to the birth of modern historical and critical exegesis and, more broadly, to the emergence, among theologians and biblical scholars, of a certain historical consciousness that characterizes vast segments of modernity. How did the historical and critical methods arise? How did they impact the study of Scripture? What are their implications for Christian theology? Scripture is read--and needs to be read--differently in a parish, in a monastery, and in an academic setting. But the various ways of approaching Scripture should not be cordoned off from one another.

This volume is an ideal textbook for in-depth study of one of the most important topics in modern theology.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451499766
  • eBook ISBN 9781506458922
  • Dimensions 7 x 9.25
  • Pages 416
  • Publication Date April 7, 2020


A refreshing contribution to contemporary debate.

"The emergence of historical consciousness in the West has posed major challenges to Christian faith and theology over 300 years. Christophe Chalamet's expertly introduced thirty-seven excerpts from key figures from the Renaissance to Liberation Theologies brilliantly illuminate the development of biblical criticism and its impact. The international and ecumenical scope of this selection gives due recognition to the German masters while also retrieving valuable statements from some less well-known scholars. Excellent translations make crucial insights from European intellectual history available to new readers, and the editor's measured judgments on the necessity of critical investigation of the Bible are a refreshing contribution to contemporary debate."

Robert Morgan | University of Oxford

A timely collection.

"Christophe Chalamet has curated a timely collection addressing the centrality of historical study in reading the Bible since the Protestant Reformation. The Challenge of History shows how Jewish, Protestant, and Roman Catholic theologians developed the historical approach to the Bible and why critical thinking continues to be an indispensable tool for resolving religious disputes today."

Christine Helmer | Northwestern University

An outstanding volume.

"Interest in history and the critical study of historical sources has been one of the defining features of Western modernity. This outstanding volume brilliantly illustrates just how pervasively this intellectual concern has spanned centuries, nations, religions, and professions. Christophe Chalamet has edited a book that will be indispensable to those studying modern historical thought across the disciplines, as well as to those teaching it."

Johannes Zachhuber | University of Oxford

Crisp and informative.

"Prefaced by a learned general introduction and rounded out with a thoughtful postscript, The Challenge of History: Readings in Modern Theology will introduce a new generation of students to the variety of ways in which the historical-critical study of the Bible has transformed the Christian theological tradition, especially in the last three centuries. Reaching back to the Renaissance and crossing over confessional lines, Christophe Chalamet has put together a fascinating set of primary sources and furnished each with a crisp and informative introduction. Student and teacher alike will be grateful for the appearance of this fresh anthology on a vital issue for the church and the academy alike."

Brent W. Sockness | Stanford University

A helpful publication.

"The application of historical presuppositions and methods to the Bible constitutes one of the most significant sets of events in the history of Christianity. In this helpful publication, Christophe Chalamet introduces his reader to vital publications stretching over more than five hundred years which in different ways show the never-easy relationship between history and theology. The two have rarely lived in any kind of harmony with each other, but as Chalamet makes clear, the tension which exists between them is both necessary and potentially fruitful."

James Carleton Paget | University of Cambridge

An outstanding collection.

"The incisive and well-chosen excerpts in this volume offer readers a detailed yet accessible overview of a central problem of modern Christian thought: the rise of historical and critical research methods. This outstanding collection makes clear not only the wide range of responses to the difficulties posed by this emerging historical consciousness but also the startling complexity of the challenge, the implications of which continue to reshape contemporary theological reflection."

Kevin M. Vander Schel | Gonzaga University