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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

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This penultimate volume in Pelikan's acclaimed history of Christian doctrine--winner with Volume 3 of the Medieval Academy's prestigious Haskins Medal--encompasses the Reformation and the developments that led to it.

About the Author

Jaroslav Pelikan (1923-2006) was Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 478 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (December 15, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226653773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226653778
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #403,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Elizabeth G. Melillo VINE VOICE on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jaroslav Pelikan, whose works always are very thorough and show a genuinely diverse collection of thought, has produced an outstanding volume which guides the reader through the often dark and stormy seas of Reformation theology. Part of the brilliance of the presentation is that it is not a strictly chronological, historical account. The thought of various Reformation era theologians are systematically set forth according to the doctrines they explored. As a result, one can see a total picture of the theological issues at stake, and why various theologians found a particular matter of crucial importance.
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.
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Jaroslav Pelikan's fourth installment in "The Christian Tradition" deals with the period of Church history that most impacts the modern Western Christian: the Protestant Reformation. This volume covers the years 1300 A.D. - 1700 A.D. in the Western Church (Volume II covers Eastern Christianity during this time period). The central event of this time period, of course, was the revolution wrought by Martin Luther and the early Protestant Reformers in the early 1500's.

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.
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Of all five volumes in this series Pelikan seems most at home in this one. This is probably the highest quality work in the series that sought to replace Adolph Von Harnack's "History of Dogma" and rightly won notable awards. Pelikan was a Lutheran at the time of writing, but one would never have known his confessional bias. In fact, he describes the seemingly novel doctrines of Lutheranism such as the ubiquity of Christ's physical body as well as Luther's particular understanding of Christ's presence in the eucharist (incorrectly termed "consubstantiation" by a later Reformed opponent) from a Roman Catholic and Reformed perspective. Overall a fair and balanced portrayal of the development of doctrine at a critical juncture in church history. Well worth reading, well written, well footnoted.
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I used this book as a text book for a Masters Level Seminary Class. Pelikan does a nice job of highlighting main issues in the History of Christian Doctrine and placing them within less than 400 pages. This book is for advanced theological reading.
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If you are interested in the way church doctrine developed as I was, buy this series. It seems like a lot of material, but Pelikan is actually brief while thorough. Church history is no simple study. They are a good buy!
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Again I marvel at how Jaroslav Pelikan remains so impartial giving out all the information on developments, and allowing the reader to make their own decisions on the data. I would recommend this to any student or person trying to get a not biased approach to Christian Religion during this time peroid.
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