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The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume… (1971)
de Jaroslav Pelikan
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Bibliography: p. 358 Includes index
Caveat lector: whereas Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History was occasionally prone to conversational phrasings along the likes of "so much, then, concerning him" or "so much, then, concerning these things" as segues from one train of thought to the next, you'll find no such linguistic waste in volume 1 of Pelikan's magisterial treatment of the history of Christian doctrine. Undoubtedly such trite colloquialisms would be seen by Pelikan as unorthodox in that their conversational nature was detrimental to the subject matter at hand, having no overt substance or content to offer. Pelikan is the church's Sergeant Joe Friday, who is interested in "just the facts, ma'am." Put differently, the book is dense. When Professor Pelikan wants to shift the subject matter from one line of thought to another (and who are you, dear reader, to even question such a transition; your only option is to obediently follow), he does so pragmatically, with an appropriate header (not that "Presuppositions of Christological Doctrine" sufficiently prepares the novitiate for the avalanche that follows).
I purchased this book on January 12, 2006 (thank you, Amazon) and thus apparently used it as an occasional reference for eight years before having the courage to attack it from beginning to end over the course of the past seven weeks. To those who have read through it in a shorter period of time (and in larger chunks), I commend you.
In an introductory autobiographical essay for Orthodoxy & Western Culture (written in honor of Pelikan's 80th birthday), Pelikan recalls that in 1944, at the age of 20, he entered the PhD program at the University of Chicago's divinity school "fully conscious (probably more than fully conscious) of my powers," which included mastery of several languages. As the owner of several of his books, who am I to disagree? I humbly offer five stars -- as if the world needs an additional voice proclaiming his unprecedented scholarship.
I don't think that the English language has a word that is sufficient to describing just how excellent this book is. Every Christian and, really, every non-Christian should have to read this book. Pelikan describes in a good amount of detail, but in a nonetheless very approachable and readable manner, the development of doctrine from the close of the Apostolic era through to the time of St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, and the Fifth Ecumenical Council, hinting at the developments of both East and West slightly beyond. His approach is wide and his views are always fair and balanced. A very helpful feature of the book is the sidenote approach where, rather than in-text citations, footnotes, and endnotes, Pelikan instead lists the sources of his quotations and summaries to the side of where they are given. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series. I cannot recommend enough reading this book, no matter your own personal doctrinal or non-doctrinal views.
Quite a complete presentation of early Christian doctrines. The focus of this book is really purely doctrinal, so there's not even a mention of how the church developed as an institution in Roman society. The discussion of the relationship between Christian doctrine and Greek philosophy was of particular interest to me.
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Wikipedia en anglès (22)
In this five-volume opus--now available in its entirety in paperback--Pelikan traces the development of Christian doctrine from the first century to the twentieth. "Pelikan's The Christian Tradition [is] a series for which they must have coined words like 'magisterial'."--Martin Marty, Commonweal
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)230 — Religions Christian doctrinal theology Christianity, Christian theology
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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