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5 Stars Out Of 5
February 27, 2005
Unlike the other reviewer, I'd have to say that, as a layman, this series is not above our heads. Yes, the books take time to read if one has absolutely no previous contact with Christian doctrine--but then again, if you are even looking at this review, chances are that you have got at least a little bit of a theological primer elsewhere. Even if one were brand new to the topic, the only companion one needs to read these books is a dictionary and internet access. You, the reader, has at least one of these, and therefore both. It didn't seem to me that Pelikan was writing to impress his peers; rather, he is just a good writer. He does not maunder from topic to topic, but progresses promptly when his point is made. In short, if you are interested in the development of doctrine, you can't do better than these fine works.
Jaroslav Pelikan is a brilliant man and has forgotten more about the development of Christian theology than I am likely ever to know. Unfortunately, his writing reflects his genius. He writes as though he were trying to convince or impress his colleagues instead of speaking at a level that is accessible to mere mortals. Pelikan's work is fascinating to those who have achieved a high level of proficiency in church history and theology. In order to understand and benefit from this work, however, the reader must be well-versed in each subject, theological controversy, and historical epoch Pelikan addresses. He assumes that the reader has this foundation and therefore does not explain concepts, terminology, and historical events that are necessary for his arguments to make sense. I have rated this set a 3 because it is useful for a very narrow audience, but is, for the vast majority of readers, well beyond comprehension.