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Theological Reading in the Christian Year

I’ve often thought of what it might mean for Christian intellectuals (i.e. aspiring theologians like myself and, I imagine most of my readership here) to try to shape their academic/theological reading in a way that orients it properly toward worship. This led me to wonder how it might be possible for theological reading to take shape in a way that cohered with the dramatic structure of the celebration of the Christian year with its various emphases on different elements of the Christian theological narrative.

I came up with a rough sketch a while back of what this might look like. I’d love some input on it as there are still some holes in parts of the year that I have trouble placing theological reading into (such as Epiphany).

So here’s the skeleton of such a theological reading plan:

Advent – Reading in Eschatology (Recommended: Jurgen Moltmann, The Coming of God)
Christmas – Readings on the Incarnation (Recommended: Athanasius, On the Incarnation, Jenson, Systematic Theology, I)
Epiphany – Readings of Divine Glory/Beauty (Recommended: Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord, I)
Lent – Readings on the Theology of the Cross & Martyrdom (Recommended: McGill, Death and Life, Lewis, Between Cross and Resurrection, Balthasar, Mysterium Paschale)
Easter – Readings on the Resurrection & Forgiveness (Recommended: Williams, Resurrection, Jenson, Story and Promise)
After Pentecost - Readings on the Holy Spirit, the Trinity & the Church (Various, as this is the long season of ‘Ordinary Time’ there’s a lot that could fit here)

So, what do people think of this as a possible way of framing theological reading in way that it can be more readily inclined toward worship? What additions would you recommend for different seasons?


  1. WTM wrote:


    I think that this is a great idea, and you have listed some really great theology in each of the seasons. Two comments: (1) No Barth or Torrance? (2) What about some more historical figures? You have Athanasius, etc, in there, but what about some Thomas, Calvin, Luther, Augustine?

    Saturday, March 17, 2007 at 1:15 pm | Permalink
  2. Ben wrote:

    I would add a few feasts/solemnities in there, particularly the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, during which I would contemplate the dormition of the Theotokos and the implications for my own personal death. During this time I would read “Eschatology (Dogmatic Theology vol 9)” by Ratzinger and “Immortality of the Soul” by Florovsky.

    Also, the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, as well as the Feast of the Transfiguration, during which I would contemplate readings similar to those you have listed on the Epiphany.

    Good call on readings of eschatology for Advent. The Sunday readings for Advent are all doom and divine destruction and then… a Baby? Awesome.

    Sunday, March 18, 2007 at 12:21 am | Permalink
  3. Halden wrote:


    Yes, a more detailed plan should definately include everyone you mention. Torrance’s The Mediation of Christ would be especially appropriate for Christmastide. And I fear that my lack of church fathers and reformers in my list just shows where some of the holes in my education still lie.


    Yeah, thinking about specific feasts would be a good idea as well as looking at the broad sweep of the seasons.

    Sunday, March 18, 2007 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  4. Ben wrote:

    Ooof! How did I forget All Saint’s Day?!

    Monday, March 19, 2007 at 3:35 am | Permalink
  5. D.W. Congdon wrote:


    This is a really good idea, and if I had my way, churches would put together readings from these various works of theology for parishioners throughout the church year. Also, assuming one is able to nail down a really solid core list, it would be a wonderful practice to read these again and again.

    Friday, March 23, 2007 at 11:24 pm | Permalink
  6. Deep Furrows wrote:

    You may consult the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours – already a liturgically oriented compendium of the Fathers.

    By the way, happy Annunciation! Today being 9 months before Christmas.


    Sunday, March 25, 2007 at 3:17 pm | Permalink
  7. WTM wrote:

    I recommend to you all the “Aids to the Preacher” in the index volume of the Church Dogmatics, which supplies excerpts from CD correlated with passages from the lectionary of one the the German or Swiss denominations (I’m blanking on which one).

    Monday, April 2, 2007 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

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