Last Update: 1.9.2021
Changes: Updated Grudem to 2nd Ed., added free PDFs of Berkhof, Frame, Strong
As a Master’s student in theology, I have had to take a class in Systematic Theology. I wanted to find a nice overview of the landscape of ST, but found only bits and pieces. Here’s my more comprehensive overview for budding theologians like myself.
I have been researching other ST volumes besides Grudem, as well as books on dogmatics (related, see my discussion at Biblical Theology: An Overview)
The early fathers were too close the organization of the canon to write Systematics, but they did write foundational theological treatises.
- Athanasius (297-373): A father of the Eastern Church, his most influential work is the short booklet On the Incarnation of the Word of God. For a decent academic commentary on Athanasius, try Liethart’s work.
- Augustine (354-430): A father of the Western Church, Augustine is a theological giant. You can buy collections of Augustine’s complete works (42 volumes!), or you can start with the four volume (short volumes!) On Christian Doctrine. For a decent intro to Augustine’s theology (but not to his actual works) try Levering.
- Cyril of Alexandria (376-444): In the 4th century, Cyril tried to quell heresy in Christology with his On the Unity of Christ.
- Gregory Nazianzus (329-390): A father of the Eastern Church, he is recognized among the Cappadocian Fathers (along with Gregory of Nyssa and St. Basil the Great), his Five Theological Orations are good reading.
- Gregory of Nyssa (335-395): A father of the Eastern Church and Cappodocian father (along with Basil and Gregory Nazaianzus) Gregory left us a nice short catechism.
- Iranaeus (130-202): Often published as 5 books, you can get them all in Saint Irenaeus of Lyons: Against Heresies. Enjoy.
- Origen (184-253): On First Principles is perhaps as close as Origen gets to a systematic theology.
- Anselm (1033-1109): A Benedictine monk and Archbishop of Canterbury, his writings are very philosophical. Although he did not write a formal ST, his works and thoughts therein are significant, not least of which is the formation of the Ontological Argument for the existence of God.
- Aquinas (1225-1274): Another theological giant, his Summa Theologiae will run you around $180 or more. However, you can get a very good abridged version edited by McDermott instead.
- Bonaventure (1221-1274): An Italian Franciscan, his Breviloquium is a classic Catholic dogma, though hard to find in print.
- John of Damascus (675-749): was a Byzantine monk and polymath in the late 7th century. Although he defended the Catholic use of icons, he did write a formative dogmatic, On the Orthodox Faith.
- Lombard * (1096-1160): (The Sentences) This truly unique four volume set by the Catholic Bishop of Paris is translated from the original Latin. Lombard was trying to harmonize the Bible with the doctrines of the Church. A rare gem available to us English speakers.