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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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About the Author

Jaroslav Pelikan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x96149108) out of 5 stars 17 reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a35bcf0) out of 5 stars Another Great Book From Pelikan 25 Jun. 2004
By David Bennett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jaroslav Pelikan is one of the foremost scholars of Christian Thought and History. This book is the second volume in his monumental set, and like the other four volumes, it does not disappoint. This volume covers the often neglected "lung" of Christianity, the Eastern Church. Its neglect in the Western world is mainly because we tend to focus on Western history, to our detriment. The controversies over the interpretation of the Church Fathers, over icons, and the Trinity are given plenty of space, as is the development of the "Eastern Mindset." The political and doctrinal issues surrounding the Filioque (the "and the Son" clause of the Nicene Creed) and the "Great Schism" between East and West are also discussed, and handled very fairly. Pelikan seems to (wisely) hold both sides and the egos involved to be at fault for the schism. He looks at the events and controversies of the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Ecumenical Councils too. He ends with the "Last flowering of Byzantine Theology" including the tragic almost complete loss of theological and liturgical contact between East and West.
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.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95713114) out of 5 stars Both the "What" and the "How" of Christian Doctrine 30 Aug. 2000
By Alan Dow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9571318c) out of 5 stars A Window into The Eastern Church 14 Aug. 2004
By Ruth Adar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the second volume in his great series, Jaroslav Pelikan offers a clear and readable history of the development of Eastern Christianity. Many of the primary source materials for this portion of the history of Christianity are not easily accessible to Western readers, and for that reason alone, the book is a treasure.

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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9571351c) out of 5 stars A forgotten history is revealed 24 Nov. 2008
By Eric Sammons - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the greatest deficiencies of most studies of Christian history is the lack of depth when it comes to the Eastern churches. Typically, these churches simply play minor, usually antagonistical, roles in the great events in Western Christendom. However, this is a distortion of the rich history they have in their own right - a history that every Western Christian would do well to discover.

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.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95713654) out of 5 stars A great book in a tremendous series 6 Aug. 2002
By Joseph B. Howard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was introduced to Jaroslav Pelikan's "The Christian Tradition," of which this is the second volume, last March while researching a term paper for a History of Christianity class. This volume was so invaluable to me during my research that I immediately went out and bought the rest of the series as my funds would allow. Pelikan is a clear and readable writer who conveys both the context and the importance of his subject matter. THE SPIRIT OF EASTERN CHRISTIENDOM is a tremendous resource for anyone interested in the Ecumenical Council's and their affects upon Church dogma and the growing apart of the Western and Eastern Churches. The marginalia is also an indispensable resource which makes the primary sources extremely accessible to the reader. I highly recomend this book to everyone.
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