Liberty University Sample Book Review Chhi 520

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How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity By Thomas C. Oden Downers Grove, Ill: Intervarsity Press, 2008, 204 pp, $ 19.00 hardcover. Thomas Oden, an accomplished scholar in systematic and historical theology, and retired professor at Drew University, has offered a compelling and positively provocative work in How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind. A work of scholarly repentance, he ably repudiates the posture of western theologians and historians (i.e. Harnack, Bauer, Schleiermacher) toward Africa’s theological legacy (pp. 57-59). His present work is the fruit of thirty years of reading the early African fathers, and in the last fourteen, he has served as the general editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. From this rich background, Oden develops the book’s resounding thesis: African theology (facilitated by Clement, Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine, Athanasius, among others) is the “seedbed”—an appropriate Tertullianism—of western Christianity and thought. Unlike his mentors at Yale (p. 130), Oden takes a servant’s posture in telling the African story. Receiving encouragement from African theologians like Tite Tiénou (p. 36), and circulating the manuscript to three dozen African scholars prior to publication (pp. 85-86), it is appropriate that the dust jacket endorsements come from African scholars Tiénou and Lamin Sanneh. A concise, well-written, and accessible work, Oden’s introduction highlights the unprecedented growth of modern African Christianity, while arguing that its Patristic tradition is largely unknown to Africans and has been ignored by Europeans. In chapter one, “A Forgotten Story,” he further raises the issues of Africa’s forgotten status and makes the case for writing the book. In chapter two, “Seven Ways Africa Shaped the Christian Mind,” he winsomely argues for Africa’s primal influence on western Christian thought. Chapters three, four, and five— “Defining Africa,”...
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