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The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 5: Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture (since 1700) (Volume 5) Paperback – October 4, 1991


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jaroslav Pelikan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (October 4, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226653803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226653808
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #693,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Burns VINE VOICE on February 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
This final volume of Pelikan's massive study of Christian belief has much in common with the first. In that introductory work Christian doctrine unfolds in an alien and at times antagonistic cultural setting, though then the adversaries were for the most part "diverse outsiders" so to speak, Jew and Roman. Volumes two through four tend toward intramural Christian in-house struggle. This work at hand again explores the relationship of Christian belief with outsiders, the key difference being that the outsiders, in many cases, were once insiders. Enlightenment Christianity was beginning to embrace agnosticism.

Pelikan begins his work with Goethe's lament, "I hear the message all right; it is only the Faith that I lack." Goethe was no mean theologian; if anything he was symptomatic of a widespread state of ecclesial exhaustion after several centuries of Reformation wrangling. At roughly the same time Goethe was rending his own soul [1833], two young men attended Holy Thursday services at St. Peter's in Rome. Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Henry Newman left with distinctively different blueprints for the future of foundational theology. How such great minds in the churches embraced the dual factors of exhaustion and modern doubt frame the discussion of doctrinal development into the twentieth century.

Pelikan labors mightily to keep his study from undue influences of modernity [Descartes, Newton, Kant, etc.] but this is not always possible, particularly when the battle ground of dogmatics was shifting away from "shouting louder" to [presumably] more rationally certifiable grounds such as history, which enjoyed a remarkable resurgence under Gibbon and Von Harnack, among others.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Florida Dad VINE VOICE on December 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
This fifth volume in Jaroslav Pelikan's monumental work, "The Christian Tradition," was likely the hardest for Pelikan to write. After all, following the breakup of Western Christendom due to the revolution wrought by the Protestant Reformers, Christian theology went in so many fragmented directions, how do you choose which to focus on for this volume, which covers the years after 1700 A.D.?

Pelikan can only paint broad brushstrokes in detailing how Christian theology developed in this time frame. He covers all the major Christian theologians of the time, taking pains to ensure a balanced treatment of Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox theologies. He (arbitrarily, but wisely) ends the volume with coverage of the Second Vatican Council, a major event in the history of the universal Church that occurred in the 1960's. As with the other volumes in this series, Pelikan is painstakingly objective; he is careful to simply relate the facts that lead to various theological developments - not give his opinion about them.

But one does get a sense of sadness when reading this volume. Whereas the first three volumes express the mostly unified vision of the Church (albeit already in two factions - East and West - after the first volume), the fourth volume and especially this fifth and final volume reflect the sad reality of the disunity of Christian theology that has occurred, especially since the 16th century. Pelikan ably attempts to show the commonality between the various confessions, but the fact is that the divisions that began almost 500 years ago have been going down more widely divergent paths over the centuries. Even a brilliant mind like Pelikan's cannot unify what is so splintered.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Alan Dow on August 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Pelikan's "The Christian Tradition" is a remarkable series that describes the manner in which Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox christians have interpreted the teaching of Jesus and the manner in which the doctrines of this "one, holy, catholic and apostolic" faith developed and diverged over twenty centuries. Thus, one learns not only what the various christian churches teach today but how and why these teachings differ. While scholarly, "The Christian Tradition" is clearly written and readable. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Louie Kin Yip on April 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
The title of this magisterial work on the history of Christian doctrine, "Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture," gives an accurate description of the main theme of the book. Pelikan does not try to survey modern theologies in all its varieties (such goal is impractical for the size of this volume anyway), but he succeeds in this book to give a continuous and meaningful narrative of the struggle between traditional doctrines and modern thinking.

The book has 6 chapters. Chapter one is an introduction to the crisis in doctrines in all three major Christian traditions: Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. Chapter two addresses the intellectual challenges brought on by the Enlightenment. Chapter three describes the subjective turn of theology (i.e. the turn to make subjective experience the foundation of the Christian religion). Chapter four lays out the shifting understanding of the meaning of traditional doctrines as the various orthodox (or conservative) parties responds to credibility crisis of the Christian faith. Chapter five focuses on the question of the authority to interpret the faith and justification of orthodoxy at the beginning of the 20th century. Chapter six describes how the self-understanding of the churches emerging in the middle of the 20th century, seeing themselves more as witnesses and servants rather than powerful institutions.

Pelikan's erudition is simply stupendous. He studies many now obscure (but popular in their own times) theological handbooks, in Latin, German, Russian etc., that even most professional historians have neither the ability nor the patience to digest. The result is a moving narrative of the three major traditions in its struggle against the skepticism and rationalism of modern culture.
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Frequently Bought Together

The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 5: Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture (since 1700) (Volume 5) + The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 4: Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700) + The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 3: The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300)
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