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The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 2:…

por Jaroslav Pelikan

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798321,220 (4.63)1
The line that separated Eastern Christendom from Western on the medieval map is similar to the "iron curtain" of recent times. Linguistic barriers, political divisions, and liturgical differences combined to isolate the two cultures from each other. Except for such episodes as the schism between East and West or the Crusades, the development of non-Western Christendom has been largely ignored by church historians. In The Spirit of Eastern Christendom, Jaroslav Pelikan explains the divisions between Eastern and Western Christendom, and identifies and describes the development of the distinctive forms taken by Christian doctrine in its Greek, Syriac, and early Slavic expression. "It is a pleasure to salute this masterpiece of exposition. . . . The book flows like a great river, slipping easily past landscapes of the utmost diversity—the great Christological controversies of the seventh century, the debate on icons in the eighth and ninth, attitudes to Jews, to Muslims, to the dualistic heresies of the high Middle Ages, to the post-Reformation churches of Western Europe. . . . His book succeeds in being a study of the Eastern Christian religion as a whole."—Peter Brown and Sabine MacCormack, New York Review of Books "The second volume of Professor Pelikan's monumental work on The Christian Tradition is the most comprehensive historical treatment of Eastern Christian thought from 600 to 1700, written in recent years. . . . Pelikan's reinterpretation is a major scholarly and ecumenical event."—John Meyendorff "Displays the same mastery of ancient and modern theological literature, the same penetrating analytical clarity and balanced presentation of conflicting contentions, that made its predecessor such an intellectual treat."—Virgina Quarterly Review … (mais)
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If, as Bacon said, "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested," then volume 2 of Pelikan's history of Christian doctrine -- like the other volumes in the series -- defines the latter appellation. This is a book that should occupy a place in every Christian's library; combined with the other volumes, one could spend a lifetime alone going over the hundreds of primary and secondary sources that each volume references.

It is is a humbling undertaking to write a review, or even a synopsis, of any of Pelikan's books: what more possibly could be said? One has the feeling of sacrilege, as if trying to add a book to the Bible. Volume 2 addresses the growing importance the church placed on tradition; iconography; the Filioque controversy; the Trinity; the rise of Islam; and "the final break with Western doctrine," amongst other topics. Like volume 1, there is a density of prose that somehow seems necessary given the prolix subject matter -- perhaps akin to the necessity of force-feeding geese for foie gras (minus any of the negative connotations).

There are authors whom one simply must read when presented with one of their books, and Pelikan is one of them. While the firehose of information is not what one would call "easy reading," continued chewing and digestion will reward the reader for years to come. ( )
  RAD66 | Nov 12, 2020 |
This is part 2 of a five-volume series describing the development of doctrine in "Christendom." This volume focuses on eastern Christianity and its doctrinal history from 600 to 1700.

Topics include the trajectories of Nestorian, Monophysite, and Chalcedonian Orthodox doctrines, particularly on the Trinity; the icon controversy; disputations with Roman Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam; later attempts to systematize eastern Christian beliefs.

Pelikan does well at exposing the myths and prejudices of scholastic treatment of eastern Christendom while showing respect for the worldview and perspective of those of whom he writes. His understanding of the issues and his exposition are quite magisterial.

If one desires to understand the doctrinal systems of eastern Christendom, this book is a must read. ( )
1 vote deusvitae | Jan 13, 2009 |
This volume is every bit as strong as the first. I think it would work ok to read it independently of volume one (as Pelikan aimed to make possible), but I definitely appreciate having the background it gave and having puzzled through some of the intricacies of first-millenium doctrinal debates. As I mentioned in my comment to volume one, though, this series is very approachable even if you don't have a ton (or any, really) background in such things.

As I was reading this, I was thinking about a few different topics. One that has been recurring ever since I started volume 1 of the series is the role of theology in one's personal faith. Certainly I don't believe that it's necessary for a Christian to have a fully developed theological position to have a valid faith; I think trusting in Jesus and following his teachings is enough. So what is the purpose of theology? Is it just to satisfy intellectually curious Christians' need for something to inquire into and assuage their doubts that their religion is tenable? And if it's ok to have incorrect theological beliefs (is it?), where is the line between incorrect theology and un-Christianity? Does denying the importance of correct theology lead to acceptance of all religions as valid paths to salvation?
  bmcdonald | May 17, 2006 |
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The line that separated Eastern Christendom from Western on the medieval map is similar to the "iron curtain" of recent times. Linguistic barriers, political divisions, and liturgical differences combined to isolate the two cultures from each other. Except for such episodes as the schism between East and West or the Crusades, the development of non-Western Christendom has been largely ignored by church historians. In The Spirit of Eastern Christendom, Jaroslav Pelikan explains the divisions between Eastern and Western Christendom, and identifies and describes the development of the distinctive forms taken by Christian doctrine in its Greek, Syriac, and early Slavic expression. "It is a pleasure to salute this masterpiece of exposition. . . . The book flows like a great river, slipping easily past landscapes of the utmost diversity—the great Christological controversies of the seventh century, the debate on icons in the eighth and ninth, attitudes to Jews, to Muslims, to the dualistic heresies of the high Middle Ages, to the post-Reformation churches of Western Europe. . . . His book succeeds in being a study of the Eastern Christian religion as a whole."—Peter Brown and Sabine MacCormack, New York Review of Books "The second volume of Professor Pelikan's monumental work on The Christian Tradition is the most comprehensive historical treatment of Eastern Christian thought from 600 to 1700, written in recent years. . . . Pelikan's reinterpretation is a major scholarly and ecumenical event."—John Meyendorff "Displays the same mastery of ancient and modern theological literature, the same penetrating analytical clarity and balanced presentation of conflicting contentions, that made its predecessor such an intellectual treat."—Virgina Quarterly Review

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