Baseball + Theology = Theologian Trading Cards

November 28, 2012 — 7 Comments


A couple of weeks ago, I showed you that I got these Theologian Trading Cards in the mail courtesy of Zondervan Academic. I thought I’d give you a few more pictures, my thoughts, and link to where you can enter a giveaway to get some for yourself!

Basically, this is a set of baseball cards, but with theologians instead of athletes. I’ve got a collection of several thousand baseball cards (we’re talking like 15000+) lurking in my parents attic, so naturally I think these cards are radical.

Rather than just a random assortment of theologians though, Norman Jeune III, who developed these cards, split the theologians up into teams:

  • Athens Metaphysicians (philosophers)
  • Serampore Preachers (missionaries)
  • St. Pius Cardinals (important post-Reformation Catholic thinkers)
  • Jerusalem Resourcers (contemporary theologians)
  • Orthodoxy Dodgers (heretics, in the classical sense, so no Brian McLaren)
  • St. James Padres (church fathers)
  • Wittenburg Whistle-Blowers (early Reformers/later Lutherans)
  • Munster Radicals (Anabaptists)
  • Cantebury Monarchs (English Reformers/Anglicans/Puritans)
  • Constantinople Hesychasts (Orthodox theologians)
  • Avignon Crusaders (Medievals minus mystics and monks)
  • Geneva Sovereigns (later Reformed)
  • Munich Monks (Hermits, mystics, monks)
  • Los Angeles Knights (Fundamentalists/Evangelicals)
  • Berlin Aggiornamentos (Contemporary scholars)
As you can see, some of these are historical divisions, while others theological divisions. All in all, Norman did a good job of spanning the entire history of the church. The front of the card features either a picture if they are modern, or a painting or portrait if they are not. On the back, you’ll find important biographical details (and major writings) on the first half of the card (like every good baseball card includes). Then, a brief rundown of the “stats” of each theologian (otherwise known as his or her significant contribution to Christian theology).

All in all, this is a great collection of cards and something that every theology nerd/geek you should own. I do however have a couple of complaints.

First, several of the cards have the blank silhouette (like a Facebook user who hasn’t picked a profile pic). While this may be understandable in some cases, I have a hard time believing G. C. Berkouwer never allowed himself to be photographed. In fact he did, and with a quick Google search, you can find a superb picture of him that should be on the front of his card. This was the case as well for Emil Brunner, as well as a handful of others. I’m not sure why some of them don’t have a picture, but seeing as how quick I could conjure one up in Google, it looks like a lack of care for details or a deadline for publication was reached. Either way, pictorial uniformity would have been nice.

UPDATE: So, about this complaint…had I read the Q/A with the author a little closer (or gotten to the back page) I would have seen that the main reason they don’t have some of the pics is because of 1) copyright issues and 2) resolution of uncopyrighted pics they did find. That being the case, I rescind my complaint about the missing images and only add that I hope they will eventually get an aesthetic upgrade, but as the stand, it’s not the publisher or the author’s fault images aren’t included on several modern theologians.

Second, there are several notable (in my opinion) omissions:

  • Cornelius Van Til
  • John Frame
  • John Stott
  • J. I. Packer
  • Charles Ryrie

These are just what I could think of off the top of my head, and granted, these are all modern theologians. But if we’re going to give Vanhoozer and N. T. Wright cards, there has to be some reasonable calculus for who gets excluded in the modern period. Perhaps some of the more obscure theologians on other teams could have been cut to make room. Perhaps this is just historical bias on my part. Either way, you can’t tell me you don’t wish there was a Charles Ryrie card in here that you could tape inside your Ryrie Study Bible.

The upside is that there are a total of 8 blank cards, so given my list above, I could just make each of them a card myself. In that case, if you and several of your friends got a set of these, it does have customization possibilities.

All this being said, I would encourage you to get this set of cards as a Christmas present for that seminary student in your life. They are less than $20 and are not only entertaining, they’ll also make a great study aid for anyone taking a church history class! If I hadn’t already selected textbooks for my church history section, I’d make these a required “textbook”!

Card Details

  • Author: Norman Jeune III
  • Title: Theologian Trading Cards
  • PublisherZondervan Academic (November 20, 2012)
  • Cards: 310
  • Reading Level: General Reader
  • Audience Appeal: Bible nerds of all kinds (and pretty much every seminary student you know)
  • Gratis Review Copy: Yes (courtesy of Zondervan Academic)

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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

7 responses to Baseball + Theology = Theologian Trading Cards

  1. you forgot the all important dr. joe jordan card.

    It’s too bad they don’t have like a poke-battle feature to them. that’d be a hot seller.

  2. I’m so glad you posted about these! What a great idea. I’ll definitely need to get a copy. It’s a pity though that they don’t quite seem to reach their full potential. Judging by the pictures above, the photos don’t really feel stylized as they could. If only they had an artist caricature the theologians, that would have resulted in a more unified visual style.

    • Yeah, I could have elaborated on that, but these cards could really use an aesthetic overhaul. The concept and info are excellent, but the presentation leaves something to be desired

  3. I’m still surprise that Van Til’s not in there.

  4. Hey Nate,

    Just curious… what text are you using for church history?

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