14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A tapestry of medieval theology,
This review is from: The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 3: The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300) (Paperback)
This third volume of Dr. Pelikan's history of the Christian Tradition is, as expected, yet another treasure-trove of knowledge and scholarship. It is full of surprises and detailed analysis of the various theological controversies of the years between 600 and 1300 in the West. However, this volume wasn't as apprehensible or as satisfying for me as the first volume dealing with the Early Church. Since I would be more willing to question my own understanding than Pelikan's exposition, I believe this work merits a second reading. Still, for me, the real significance of medieval theology remains a mystery.
I suppose the greatest surprise of this volume was the theological diversity of an age that is usually mislabeled as monolithic and intellectually stagnant. Pelikan details the various controversies over such things as grace/free will, the Real Presence, church authority, Mary, salvation, etc. that took place during the darkest of the Dark Ages. However, because of the lacunae of historical context, it is unclear to me whether the theological dissidents actually had any influence or following in the church as a whole or were merely lone cranks whose theories were debated and discarded in the isolation of the monasteries or universities. We are given the various sides of a debate without being told how they were resolved by the Church. Perhaps a reading of the volume on the Reformation will reveal what influence, if any, these medieval controversies had on future religious developments, but because Pelikan rarely informs us about what the church- as an authority- actually_taught_during this period, I am left ignorant about what effect these debates actually had on the medieval church and the development of doctrine. Though he does mention one or two councils that condemned a certain theologian's theories, it seems like this book is more of a survey of questions raised than questions resolved and doctrines defined. I wanted to know what gospel the church- under the authority of Popes and bishops- was promulgating as truth during the Middle Ages, but I didn't get it. Still, this volume is a fascinating overview of intellectual ferment in the medieval church.
The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 3: The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300)(14 customer reviews)