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The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) Paperback – August 15, 1975
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Pelikan covers all of the major figures and controversies, looking at orthodox and heretic arguments. He explains why orthodox doctrine prevailed, geographically, politically, and philosophically. The major chapters are, 1. Preparatio Evangelica, 2. Outside the Mainstream. 3. Faith of the Catholic Church, 4. Mystery of the Trinity, 5. Person of the God-Man, 6. Nature and Grace, and 7. Orthodox Consensus. Each is then broken down to several sub-chapters.
Do not expect a Biblical defense of the Trinity or any other doctrine from this book. Pelikan clearly explains that catholic belief came after a long and hard consideration of biblical concepts, with many dissenters who interpreted the Bible differently.Read more ›
Two words in the book's subtitle should be emphasized to clarify the book's purpose; firstly, that this is a study of Christian_doctrine_, not a history of Christianity per se. The mention of dates and years is rare, and indeed, this book seems to operate in a world outside of time, where spiritual ideas are debated by disembodied theologians unmoored from any earthly context. As a history-buff, that lack of chronological perspective sometimes grates, but I came to accept that this is a historical study of ideas, not events, and the book is made stronger by its single-minded focus on that area. Secondly, the starting point of this book that has to be accepted is that the basics of Christian doctrine have come down to us by a_process_of revelation, development, evolution, and scholarly dialectics, not from the self-exegesis of Scripture Alone. Pelikan himself once sarcastically asked what human being could sit in a room with the New Testament and come up with the idea of the Trinity without the benefit of Tradition.Read more ›
Pelikan writes in a readable and engaging style. He has clearly grasped all the subtleties in the development of the "Christian Tradition" (his oft-quoted phrase is that tradition is the living faith of the dead but traditionalism is the dead faith of the living), but yet he can summarize the essence of a position in one sentence. The real meat of this set is the references in the margin, where one can go directly to the sources. Anyone studying theology must have this on their bookshelf.
As a public service, here are the ISBN numbers so that one can purchase the entire set ... ISBN v1 0226653714 v2 0226653730 v3 0226653757 v4 0226653773 v5 0226653803
Mr. Pelikan has focused like a laser on what was TAUGHT (as in "the stuff we have actual historical documentation for") by the church throughout history. This is most refreshing. No pet theories or speculation taint this book (I guess this means Mr. Pelikan won't be asked to work with A&E or Bill Moyers any time soon.)
This book can be dry in spots. This probably speaks more to my distaste for "scholarly works" than any deficiency in Mr. Pelikan's writing style. However, most readers will probably find this book both captivating and edifying. I recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I believe as someone else had pointed out, the quality in terms of accuracy and insight is top notch. The readability isn't as friendly. Read morePublished 6 months ago by swillia9
Very dense, but very informative. It was exactly what I needed to give me background for my Medieval theology class.Published 9 months ago by Bailey Marie
A rich and thoughtful history of doctrine. It has the advantage of presenting a history of ideas rather than a historical panorama of early Church thinkers.Published 18 months ago by Anonymous
I originally read the first volume of Jaroslav Pelikan's "A History of the Development of Doctrine" some 35 years ago when I was first becoming interested in the... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Doug Erlandson
This work is indispensable for study on the early church. Pelikan's writing is clear and careful, and surprisingly readable. Read morePublished 20 months ago by robert jines
This book is probably one of the greatest books ever written about Christian doctrine. I enjoyed it immensely, but it's a very "meaty" book. Read morePublished on May 30, 2014 by Jballard
So few works combine mastery of the subject with readability and dispassion. It's no mystery that Dr. Pelikan was a sterling professor at Yale. Read morePublished on July 31, 2013 by Likely Whipping Boy