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Baptist Roots: a Reader in the Theology of a Christian People.

Ed. Curtis W. Freeman, James William McClendon Jr., and C. Rosalee Velloso da Silva. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1999. 436 pages.

This book seeks to answer one question, "Do Baptists have a theological heritage ?" The editors expanded the scope of this volume to include more voices from sectors of Baptist life [as the editors carefully point out], that have often been overlooked, to relate Baptists to other groups in the free church tradition, and to make more primary source material available.

The volume is organized chronologically, beginning with the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The largest section of writings are from the twentieth century. Most Part I documents are from the Anabaptist background. Some selections, like those taken from John Smyth, Thomas Helwys, William Carey, and J. M. Carroll, will be more familiar than others and consistent with selections found in Leon McBeth's Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage and William Brackney's Baptist Life and Thought. Others will be less familiar. A few examples would be Helen Barrett Montgomery, Orlando Costas, and Osadolor Imasogie.

In addition to excerpts from fifty different writers, each writer and primary source is introduced by a short biography of the author and brief descriptions of his or her work. Furthermore, an excellent brief overview of each section and the historical context of those documents introduce each century's collection. A helpful bibliography is included, and a chart of "Selected Baptist Voices" is the sole appendix.

This reader is an excellent resource. Instructors in Baptist history or Baptist theology will want to consider it as a supplemental text. Those using McBeth's Baptist Heritage will probably want to continue to utilize his Sourcebook or Brackney's Baptist Life and Thought. Those using Timothy George and David Dockery's Baptist Theologians or James Tull's Shapers of Baptist Thought as a primary text will definitely want to utilize this reader. Historians and theologians find this volume helpful as will Baptist pastors, laypeople, and virtually anyone interested in Baptist heritage? Those wishing to understand a broader definition of Baptist theology and its position within the larger Christian context will also want to become familiar with its pages. The unfortunate thing is that the editors, like their predecessors, in collecting materials for primary source readers have only begun to scrape the surface. And yes, Baptists do have a theological heritage. Baptist Roots makes that extremely clear.--Reviewed by Michael Williams, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dallas Baptist University.
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Williams, Michael (British actor)
Publication:Baptist History and Heritage
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 2001
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