Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous
WTJ 66:1 (Spring 2004) p. 227
Reviews Of Books
Richard A. Muller, After Calvin: Studies in the Development of a Theological Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Pp. vii + 275. $55.00, cloth.
Richard A. Muller’s latest book, After Calvin: Studies in the Development of a Theological Tradition, is a collection of valuable essays, most of them previously published and now conveniently available in one volume. As usual, Muller displays an enviable mastery of primary and secondary source material. The chief value of the collection lies in its provision of an excellent up-to-the-minute survey of recent historiographical trends in the study of post-Reformation orthodoxy. After Calvin is Muller’s sequel to The Unaccommodated Calvin: Studies in the Foundation of a Theological Tradition, in which Muller displays all things scholastic about Calvin and his contemporaries, usually categorized as humanists. In After Calvin, Muller highlights the “humanistic elements in the work of the writers nominally identified as Reformed ‘scholastics’” (p. 16).
The first part of the book and the Afterword focus on methodology, Muller’s most recent, central concern (p. vi). He traces current methodological trends, reframes historiographical questions, outlines three (erroneously printed as four) periods of orthodoxy (following Otto Weber), defines scholasticism and orthodoxy as he does elsewhere, explains the locus method of theology, describes orthodox exegesis, tracks the sources of reformed theology in the seventeenth century, and provides a two-chapter, eleven-point methodological manifesto for Muller’s revisionist school. The essential contours and contents of the author’s very sane historiography are found here, as are the author’s compact explanations and insightful asides.
Although the basic contours of the first part of the book are familiar to readers of Muller’s work, his discussion of methodology is cast in a useful way and almost functions as a primer for novice historians. For example, he argues that single theological works need to be read in the light of a wide survey of similar literature and always in the light of the complete bibliography of the author of the work in question. Using Carl True-man’s study of Richard Baxter, Muller notes that studies of Baxter’s practical divinity that ignore his theological works are bound to present a half man. Furthermore, Muller teaches the reader to ask insightful questions. In fact, he asks far more questions than he can answer in this work. He knows this, and in the latter parts of chs. 2, 3, and 5, and in the Afterword, Muller lists some of the projects that await the next generation of scholars. The author pays special attention to the need for interdisciplinary study of the post-Reformation orth...
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