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The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 4: Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700) Paperback – December 15, 1985
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Pelikan wisely begins with the fourteenth century developments, which seldom are treated in the context of the later Reformation but were highly influential. One example, that makes later developments quite clear, is how theologians debated many doctrinal points during the very century when one would think all that prevailed was Thomism. It also is intriguing, reading through the various chapters, how Augustinian ideas (including those mis-read) were key to both Protestant and Catholic points of view by the sixteenth century.
The only drawback to using this volume is that, though the research and collection of quotes from varied sources is impeccable, one must constantly check the margins, where the names of authors and documents are abbreviated, to know "who wrote what."
Pelikan's work is unique for its truly systematic presentation of all viewpoints in Reformation thought, integrated with an introduction to the earlier theology which would be influential, and the "re-affirmation" Catholic efforts of Trent. The result is a smooth, comprehensive, understandable, and enlightening whole.
So often the history of the Reformation is too focused on the political issues behind the breakup of Western Christendom. And, to be sure, political considerations were an important factor in the development of the Protestant churches. However, the very real theological issues behind Luther's protest and those that followed him tend to be minimized or even misunderstood. If Luther and Calvin and Zwingli and others did not develop theological reasons for their protests, then Western Christendom would never have broken into pieces like it did; the desires of political princes to break from Rome's political orbit would never have been able to be justified to the common man. Pelikan is first and foremost a historian of Christian theology, and thus he is perfectly situated to dig into the details and complexities of the theological arguments behind both the Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Furthermore, by reading the whole Christian Tradition series in order, one can see how many of the issues of the 16th century had their foundations much earlier, and in much different contexts.
Pelikan, a Lutheran at the time of this volume's publication (he later converted to Eastern Orthodoxy), is, as always, excellent in maintaining an objective look at Christian history.Read more ›
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what can be said about a book that HAS to be read... well, it is a good book anyway. recommendPublished on August 5, 2013 by Charlotte A. Schmotzer