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Understanding Jacques Ellul

Jeffrey P. Greenman, Read M. Schuchardt, and Noah Toly


Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers
Publish Date: December 12, 2012
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161097431X
ISBN-13: 9781610974318


Jacques Ellul (1912–1994) was one of the world’s last great polymaths and one of the most important Christian thinkers of his time, engaging the world with a simplicity, sincerity, courage, and passion that few have matched. However, Ellul is an often misunderstood thinker. As more than fifty books and over one thousand articles bear his name, embarking on a study of Ellul’s thought can be daunting. This book provides an introduction to Ellul’s life and work, analyzing and assessing his thought across the most important themes of his scholarship. Readers will see that his remarkably broad field of vision, clarity of focus, and boldly prophetic voice make his work worth reading and considering, rereading and discussing.


Jeffrey P. Greenman

Jeffrey P. Greenman is Associate Dean of Biblical and Theological Studies and Professor of Christian Ethics at Wheaton College (IL).


Read M. Schuchardt

Read M. Schuchardt is Associate Professor of Communication at Wheaton College (IL).


Noah J. Toly

Noah J. Toly is Director of Urban Studies and Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton College (IL)is Associate Dean of Biblical and Theological Studies and Professor of Christian Ethics at Wheaton College (IL).


  1. Introduction
  2. Ellul’s Life and Thought
  3. Technology and Technique
  4. Communication: Media, Propaganda, and the Word
  5. The City and Urbanism
  6. Politics and Economics
  7. Scripture
  8. Ethics
  9. Ellul as a Christian Scholar


Understanding Jacques Ellul is an academic treasure. . . . The complicated correlation between Ellul’s biblical thinking and his social theoretical work is developed with extraordinary sophistication. This book lives up to its own internal promise, demonstrating with impeccable scholarship Ellul’s distinctiveness as a Christian thinker.

— Clifford Christians
University of Illinois


Understanding Jacques Ellul is a useful introduction to the prolific author, who was a sociologist, historian, and a Christian. This book is the first to give equal weight to his secular and Christian views. Given Ellul’s voluminous writings, the authors had to be selective, and their choice of topics is excellent.

— Richard Stivers
Professor of Sociology, Illinois State University


Jacques Ellul was one of the twentieth century’s most insightful Christian analysts of contemporary society. His writings remain of great value for Christian mission today. This study shows his continued relevance through its accessible, well-informed introduction and overview of some of the many key themes in his extensive corpus. I hope it introduces Ellul’s thought to a new generation of Christian disciples and scholars.

— Andrew Goddard
Associate Director, Kirby Laing Institute of Christian Ethics


This revealing overview of Ellul’s life and work enables us to grasp the underlying unity of his principal interests: communication and Christianity. . . . This balanced study will be of prime service to anyone who [wishes to] understand Ellul’s thought and insights.

— Eric McLuhan
Author of Know Thyself: Action and Perception