- Hardcover: 358 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press (1 July 1974)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226653722
- ISBN-13: 978-0226653723
- Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,121,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Christian Tradition: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom, 600-1700 v. 2: A History of the Development of Doctrine (The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Christian Doctrine) Hardcover – 1 Jul 1974
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More About the Author
About the Author
Jaroslav Pelikan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Pelikan is fair and balanced in his appraisal of events, and concerns himself primarily with the development of doctrine, so some issues and events might seem downplayed or ignored. His style, while interesting, can also be rather academic. Many Latin and Greek words are used without translation. Many technical Church terms are used as well, which might be unfamiliar to those not versed in Church history. As such, this might not be the best beginner's introduction to the Eastern Churches.
It should be noted that Pelikan eventually joined the Orthodox Church, so the contents of this book (written in 1974) were probably part of his journey. I had the joy of hearing Pelikan speak and of attending an Orthodox service with him. He genuinely loves the Eastern Tradition, and certainly views the events in his books as more than just cold historical facts. This love of Christian history could be why his books are so well-written. However, they are still very scholarly and look at events critically, which might cause him to be dismissed as too "liberal" or "modernist". However, the Tradition of the Church is never dismissed out of hand, and Pelikan is quite traditional in his beliefs. Overall, this is a great part two in the History of the Development of Doctrine. For those who have a background in Christian history, volume two will probably teach you more new events and figures than any other of his volumes, because the East's history independent of the West has been neglected for too long.
In addition to the glowing notes of other reviewers, I'd like to add that the bibliography of secondary sources and the index in the book are superb, making it extremely useful as a window into the entire subject.
In "The Spirit of Eastern Christendom", which is volume 2 of the "The Christian Tradition" series, Jaroslav Pelikan does a great service to all Christians by exploring in-depth the developments that occurred in the Eastern Christian theology between 600 A.D. and 1700 A.D. In some ways, this book must reflect the Lutheran author's own spiritual development, as he was to eventually be received into the Eastern Orthodox Church a few years before his death. But nothing in this book, or the series, betrays a bias towards any confession - Pelikan's goal is simply to relate the facts as they occurred; a goal he is successful in accomplishing.
The primary event for Eastern Christendom during the first half of this time period, of course, was the great iconoclastic debates which raged in the Byzantine Empire in the early middle ages. Pelikan explores the theological underpinnings of both sides of the debate, being even-handed in his treatment while showing clearly why the lovers of icons eventually prevailed. But the greatest asset of this book, in my opinion, is Pelikan's exploration of the debates in the East regarding the essence and energies of God, especially as taught by St. Gregory Palamas. This entire debate is mostly ignored in the West, as it occurred after the schism, and if not ignored, then misunderstood. Yet it is an important development of Christian thought - one that all Christians would do well to understand more fully.
Those who wish to appreciate Eastern Christian theology would go a long way towards that goal with this second volume of in "The Christian Tradition" series. Instead of the often lopsided surveys of Christian history available, this series gives full acknowledgement of the priceless contribution the East has made in the development of Christian doctrine. Pelikan is to be greatly commended for not forgetting the other "lung" of the Christian Church.