on 23 December 2010
I've given this 5 stars because scholarship on this scale and of this density deserves it, but be aware that the prose can sometimes be as dense as the scholarship; this is not an easy read, and neither is it for the amateur (unless that amateur is already well up on the subject). All of that said, it is well worth the effort it takes. The author is pretty hard on some of his predecessors, but he is never so unfairly, and he always explains where, in his view, they have gone wrong. To some, it will seem that he is muddying the clear picture of the establishment of Trinitarian Orthodoxy, but in comparison with some other contemporary historians, he is almost a defender of it, and the fact that he locates a number of trajectories to what became established as Orthodox teaching does not mean that he denies the existence of Orthodoxy, just that he is capable of reconstructing it in its density and complexity. He is particularly good on St. Athanasius, and his work on the Cappadocian Fathers is outstanding.
He entitles the book 'an approach', and he never claims too much for it, but it is, ultimately, a fruitful and constructive approach. I'd recommend this very highly to anyone with an interest in this subject; to professionals it is vital reading. After all, no one ever said scholarship has to be a gripping read, and a book this good does repay the effort it sometimes requires. Mind you, it might just be me, of course.