From Christianity Today online – My Top 5 Biographies of Theologians

Luther Man between God and the Devil
by Heiko A. Oberman (Yale)

A master historian, Oberman places Luther in the context of late medieval culture and presents him not as the forerunner of modernity but as a prophetic figure who saw his life’s work as a harbinger of the last days. This is a book I enjoy reading and rereading.

Augustine the Theologian
by Eugene TeSelle (Wipf & Stock)

A good primer for every theological student, this book should be read alongside Peter Brown’s Augustine of Hippo, the definitive biography of the most prolific and consequential theologian of the early church. TeSelle traces with clarity the development of Augustine’s mind through the major controversies and themes of his work.

Karl Barth His Life from Letters and Autobiographical Texts
by Eberhard Busch (Wipf & Stock)

Drawing on Barth’s letters and memoranda as well as his published writings, Busch tells the story of a person who lived through the great turning points of the 20th century and whose work as seen in Church Dogmatics demands attention from every serious student of theology.

Spurgeon Prince of Preachers
by Lewis A. Drummond (Kregel)

We still await a definitive biography of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Baptist preacher and self-taught theologian, but Drummond’s lengthy study is the best to date. He presents Spurgeon as a latter-day disciple of another Baptist saint, John Bunyan, and shows how his pastoral work encompassed “an all-round ministry.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas The “Dumb Ox”
by G. K. Chesterton (Sheed & Ward)

There are longer and better biographies of the doctor angelicus, but this is my favorite. Chesterton is at his brilliant best in writing this vivid portrait of the great Dominican saint, whose work continues to edify evangelicals as well as Catholics despite his student reputation as a dull, “dumb ox.”

I will like to add to the list three excellent books on theologians I have read recently;

An excellent book by Geoffrey Wainwright (2000, Oxford University Press) detailing the development of Lesslie Newbigin’s theological thoughts. Wainwright has masterfully shown how Newbigin’s early years, his work in India and exposure to Eastern thoughts has significantly influenced this theologican’s thinking.

Ever the rebel and counter-revolutionary, this autobiographical memoirs (2010, Eerdmans) makes for interesting reading.

This book of brief summaries of great theologians (2010, IVP Academics) serves as an appetizer to reading deeper studies on the individual biographies of these theologians.

Are there any other good biographies of theologians you want to share?

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