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The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381 A.D. [Hardcover]

R.P.C. Hanson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Nov 1988
First published in 1988, "The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God" is still considered by many scholars to be the finest work on the Arian Controversy. Examining scholarly works on the Controversy and many original texts, Professor Hanson, provides a clear understanding of how the traditional and historic doctrine of God as the Holy Trinity reached its most mature and enduring form. The author is not primarily concerned to defend the orthodox position itself, but rather to discover and examine the formation of that orthodoxy. The history of the events - the Councils, the interventions of the Emperor, the rivalries of sees, the behaviour of bishops, the varying fortunes of the different schools of thought and their leaders - is interwoven with the progression of thought and doctrine during the sixty years of the Controversy. Professor Hanson sees the problem of the reconciliation of two concepts which were both part of the very fabric of Christianity - monotheism and the worship of Jesus Christ as divine.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 960 pages
  • Publisher: T.& T.Clark Ltd (1 Nov 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0567094855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0567094858
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 15.9 x 4.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,384,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

R P Hanson, FBA, was Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, University of Durham. From 1970 to 1973 he was Bishop of Clogher in Ireland. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Study of the Arian crisis 318-381 31 Mar 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a quite outstanding treatment of the Arian Crisis which culminated in the Council of Constantinople 381CE. It is essential reading for the scholar, with comprehensive studies of the different positions taken by different protagonists to the dispute. Its treatment of historical sources is first class. It is also a book which would interest the curious lay person, but should not be thought of as a light read. It is written for the academic market, and fulfils its role brilliantly.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but too much for a beginner. 26 Jun 2008
By Aaron J. West - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had this book recommended to me about 1.5 years ago as an introduction to the Arian Controversy. I bought it and tried to read it, but there was just too much information. He goes into great detail about each aspect of the debate, including theological background, examination of primary sources, history of interpretation, questions of authorship and dating, and details on all the major and many of the minor players. I got bogged down and frustrated. A year and a half later, having read Barnes's books and examined some of the primary documents, as well as getting a better idea of the course of the controversy, I now find the book very useful for reference, and can read through a chapter without feeling like I'm drowning.
I would not encourage you to refrain from buying this book, but I would encourage those new to the Arian controversy to try and find something shorter and more manageable for an introduction. Get your bearings on the major councils, bishops, theological camps, and writings of the controversy. If you're not sure where Athanasius was bishop, you definitely don't want to read this book yet. If you're not sure what the Council of Serdica was you still might want to hold off. If you know who Constantius was and what theological position he favored, you probably have the background needed to wade through this rather lengthy book. I found that once I knew the general chronology of Athanasius' life fairly well, it served as a good hook to hang all this information on - and it is a lot of information.
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Have for Patristic Theology Buffs 6 Jan 2006
By H. Campbell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The late Mr. Hanson has written a masterpiece of clear, concise theological history that covers all the important aspects of the great Trinitarian Debates of the 4th century. He avoids getting bogged down in the "how-many-angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin" debates so characteristic of many patristic history tomes (though in their defence these kinds of debates were typical of patristic discourse.) He offers detailed descriptions of the political maneuvering involved in the post-Nicea and pre-Constantinople regional councils (e.g., Sardica) which typically get shortchanged in generic theological histories. His analysis may not be universally accepted but his logic and deductive abilities must be admired. It is a hefty chunk of change but be patient on the internet for a good price and then buy it!
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even handed & solid coverage of 4th century debates 7 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I found this book to provide the best recounting of facts from the original source texts (more fair than Grillmeier's set.) His tone is not an apologetic of classical trinitarian dogma, but neither is he negatively skeptical of the what became "orthodoxy". The coverage is suggestive of the fluid state of doctrine at that time. Agreement, unfortunately was settled politically. The material focuses on the 4th century debates, but not the later extentions made at Chalcedon.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Painstakingly detailed!!! 14 Jun 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I worked through this text in a doctoral seminar on the Arian Crisis. It is without doubt a must read to grasp the intricacies involved in the early patristic struggle of identifying the triune God. Hanson was too harsh on Athanasius, in my opinion. However, the book is an essential guide and will be consulted again and again. Solid scholarship if sometimes a little lop-sided!
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental 12 Dec 2013
By John D. White - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
RPC Hanson has left no stone unturned, no theologian uncovered, no comment unmade in this huge, magnificent work on Nicaea and its aftermath. Perhaps not as sympathetic to Athanasius of Alexandria as I would have liked. Hanson's work here is truly monumental in intention and in scope.
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