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The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 5: Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture (since 1700) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   361
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.96" Width: 5.86" Height: 1.08"
Weight:   1.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 4, 1991
Publisher   University Of Chicago Press
ISBN  0226653803  
EAN  9780226653808  


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Item Description...
Overview
Pelikan begins this Volume 5 with the crisis of orthodoxy that confronted all Christian denominations by the beginning of the 18th century and continues through the 20th century in its particular concerns with ecumenism. The modern period in the hisotry of Christian doctrine, Pelikan demonstrates, may be defined as the time when doctrines that had been assumed more than debated for most of Christian history were themselves called into question: the idea of revelation, the uniqueness of Christ, the authority of Scripture, the expectation of life after death, even the very transcendence of God. This last volume in the Christian Tradition series, Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture (since 1700) is designed for the academic scholar.

Publishers Description
Jaroslav Pelikan begins this volume with the crisis of orthodoxy that confronted all Christian denominations by the beginning of the eighteenth century and continues through the twentieth century in its particular concerns with ecumenism. The modern period in the history of Christian doctrine, Pelikan demonstrates, may be defined as the time when doctrines that had been assumed more than debated for most of Christian history were themselves called into question: the idea of revelation, the uniqueness of Christ, the authority of Scripture, the expectation of life after death, even the very transcendence of God.
"Knowledge of the immense intellectual effort invested in the construction of the edifice of Christian doctrine by the best minds of each successive generation is worth having. And there can hardly be a more lucid, readable and genial guide to it than this marvellous work."--"Economist"
"This volume, like the series which it brings to a triumphant conclusion, may be unreservedly recommended as the best one-stop introduction currently available to its subject."--Alister E. McGrath, "Times Higher Education Supplement "
"Professor Pelikan's series marks a significant departure, and in him we have at last a master teacher."--Marjorie O'Rourke Boyle, "Commonweal"
"Pelikan's book marks not only the end of a dazzling scholarly effort but the end of an era as well. There is reason to suppose that nothing quite like it will be tried again."--Harvey Cox, "Washington Post Book World"

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More About Jaroslav Jan Pelikan

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jaroslav Pelikan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University. He has received honorary degrees from universities all over the world, as well as medals and awards from many scholarly societies and institutions, including the Jefferson Award of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the highest honor conferred by the U.S. government on a scholar in the humanities. He is currently president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Original, rich but complex account of the encounter between culture and faith  Apr 21, 2008
The title of this magisterial work on the history of Christian doctrine, "Christian Doctrine and Modern Culture," gives an accurate description of the main theme of the book. Pelikan does not try to survey modern theologies in all its varieties (such goal is impractical for the size of this volume anyway), but he succeeds in this book to give a continuous and meaningful narrative of the struggle between traditional doctrines and modern thinking.

The book has 6 chapters. Chapter one is an introduction to the crisis in doctrines in all three major Christian traditions: Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. Chapter two addresses the intellectual challenges brought on by the Enlightenment. Chapter three describes the subjective turn of theology (i.e. the turn to make subjective experience the foundation of the Christian religion). Chapter four lays out the shifting understanding of the meaning of traditional doctrines as the various orthodox (or conservative) parties responds to credibility crisis of the Christian faith. Chapter five focuses on the question of the authority to interpret the faith and justification of orthodoxy at the beginning of the 20th century. Chapter six describes how the self-understanding of the churches emerging in the middle of the 20th century, seeing themselves more as witnesses and servants rather than powerful institutions.

Pelikan's erudition is simply stupendous. He studies many now obscure (but popular in their own times) theological handbooks, in Latin, German, Russian etc., that even most professional historians have neither the ability nor the patience to digest. The result is a moving narrative of the three major traditions in its struggle against the skepticism and rationalism of modern culture.

The book is not as exciting as works that concentrate on creative theologians (for e.g. Helmut Thielick, Modern Faith and Thought). The heroes in Pelikan are not the individuals, but the content of the Christian faith. Names and dates are sparse in the main text, as Pelikan focuses on the transformation of doctrines rather than individual persons or events.

For this reason, it is absolutely important to keep the main theme of each chapter or sections clearly in mind as one read Pelikan. Most of my students (in a graduate seminary) find it difficult to keep the whole picture in mind as Pelikan jumps from one author to another in numerous quotations in the text. This book is not suitable for a novice reading on her own. However, for the experienced reader or as a textbook, Pelikan offers a fascinating meta-narrative of modern doctrines that is fascinating and powerful and unavailable anywhere else. Pelikan is truly a historians' historian.
 
Tells part, but not all of the story.  Dec 27, 2002
My review relates to volume 5 of The Christian Tradition in particularly, but to the other 4 volumes in general, all of which I have read. There is no doubt that Jaroslav Pelikan is a scholar of considerable erudition, and he has drawn on a variety of sources to tell the story of doctrinal development. There are many things to praise in this series; one gets to know the lesser lights of church history as well as the more prominent leaders. At almost every juncture, Pelikan appears as a dispassionate guide whose interest is to tell the story rather than force a view. In this regard he has done his work well. I would guess that most readers are probably like me, in that they are most familiar with the last 200 years or so of doctrinal history, but less so with the early years or the middle ages. And here is where I found the account wanting. The history focuses almost entirely on the mainstream groups and thinkers, i.e. Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox. In volume 4, he does mention the anabaptists, but only as they came in contact with the Lutherans and Reformed theologians. While the series is not church history per se, the anabaptists did make a doctrinal contribution to the life of the church which has continued to this day. See the book by Leonard Verduin called The Reformers and Their Step-Children for more of this. In volume 5, this ignoring of the non-mainstream continues. Like him or not, C. I. Scofield had a profound impact on evangelicalism in the 20th century, but he does not appear in Pelikan's history. Even among the mainstream there are individuals whose absence is puzzling. George N.H. Peters was a Lutheran minister in 19th century America who wrote a massive three volume work called the Theocratic Kingdom, outlining a premillennial eschatology. Peters was shunned by fellow Lutherans for his views, but the work has been studied by dispensationalists ever since. However, Pelikan never mentions Peters at all in his survey. In summary, (and this is not derogatory) this is the work of a liberal scholar who tends to give short shrift to the conservatitve elements in docrtinal history. I would not therefore tell conservative readers to take a pass on it, but rather to be aware of what the books deal with.
 
Both the "What" and the "Why" of Christian Doctrine  Aug 31, 2000
Pelikan's "The Christian Tradition" is a remarkable series that describes the manner in which Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox christians have interpreted the teaching of Jesus and the manner in which the doctrines of this "one, holy, catholic and apostolic" faith developed and diverged over twenty centuries. Thus, one learns not only what the various christian churches teach today but how and why these teachings differ. While scholarly, "The Christian Tradition" is clearly written and readable. Highly recommended.
 
An extremely erudite and influential book  Jun 22, 2000
I can do no better than to quote Richard John Neuhaus, editor-in-chief of First Things: "The century's most comprehensive account of Christian teaching from the second century on." It ranked No. 79 on National Review's list of the 100 most influential books of the 20th century, ahead of classics like The Essays of E.B. White, Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and Kenneth Clark's Civilisation.
 

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