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Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (Gifford Lectures Series) [Paperback]

By Jaroslav Pelikan (Author)
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Item description for Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (Gifford Lectures Series) by Jaroslav Pelikan...

The momentous encounter between Christian thought and Greek philosophy reached a high point in fourth-century Byzantium, and the principal actors were four Greek-speaking Christian thinkers from Cappadocia: Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Macrina, the sister of Basil and Gregory of Nyssa. The author examines the writings of the Cappadocians looking for both the encounter and the synthesis between Christianity and Hellenism. This study is based upon the 1992-1993 Gifford Lectures on Natural Theology at the University of Aberdeen. The author used the lectureship as an opportunity to address, head-on and at length, the perennial issue of the Christian encounter with Hellenism, because that has been the historical matrix for the very idea of "natural theology."

Publishers Description
Provides an account of the lives and writings of the Cappadocians, showing how they managed to be Greek and Christian at the same time. Pelikan concentrates on four Cappadocians: Gregory of Nazianzus; Basil of Caesarea; Gregory of Nyssa; and Macrina, sister and teacher of the latter two.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (Gifford Lectures Series) by Jaroslav Pelikan has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 04/24/1995

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Yale University Press
Pages   384
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.17" Width: 6.12" Height: 1.15"
Weight:   1.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 22, 1995
Publisher   Yale University Press
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0300062559  
ISBN13  9780300062557  

Availability  138 units.
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More About Jaroslav Pelikan

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jaroslav Pelikan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University. He has received honorary degrees from universities all over the world, as well as medals and awards from many scholarly societies and institutions, including the Jefferson Award of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the highest honor conferred by the U.S. government on a scholar in the humanities. He is currently president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jaroslav Pelikan has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Albert Schweitzer Library
  2. Christian Tradition; A History of the Development of Doctrin (Pa
  3. Gifford Lectures

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Reviews - What do customers think about Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (Gifford Lectures Series)?

Only for monks!  Jan 10, 2005
I know that Jaroslav Pelikan gives intellectual peak experiences to some people, but the fact is that he bores me terribly. There is no doubt in my mind that the man is a first-rate erudite who has read thousands of books, but he is a very bad writer, with no style at all. His prose is impeccable but the way he tells you things is dry, dry, dry. Never a note of playfulness, never an interesting anecdote. It's simply unbearable, or only bearable for monks who want to do penance.

Although I was deeply interested in the subject and am accustomed to reading big books (I have read Robert Eisenman's huge volume on James, the Brother of Jesus), I couldn't go beyond the third chapter...

Note that the scope of this book is very limited: pagan natural theology and Christian Cappadocian natural theology. This is NOT a book on the encounter of Paganism and Christianity in general. This renders the whole discussion terribly technical, and for me, terribly boring.

Conclusion: for very patient specialists only.
The Synthesis of Hellenism and Xpianity  Apr 4, 2004
Pelikan seeks to show, with great erudition, that the Cappadocians were able to synthesize Hellenic concepts, not all theological in origin, to meet the needs of their baptism of Greek thought into that of a more or less unified Christian vision. Emphasis is placed upon their use of apophatic theology (talking of God by saying what God is not- negation).

Really a useful book to dispel the myths that the theology of the Church, especially the Greek tradition, is, a al Harnak, a big squabble over an iota or a bunch of clap trap that disguises the gospel. Each culture appropriates the Gospel in a manner that makes it intelligible. Of course there will be some loose ends and need of trimming, but Pelikan expertly demonstrates the genius of these theologians in their synthetic abilities.

My other reviews of theological books may be of interest to you in this regard.

diamond studded natural theology  Apr 1, 2002
as a person who in his heart of hearts hopes to one day be a Byzantine Catholic monk, i found this book to be both rich in information, and inspiring.
pelikan has long been my favorite historian of Christian theology. one of the great things about his work is his familiarity with the original texts: he is absolutely saturated in the writings of the fathers, and he can weave citations from their various works into his study in a manner similar to the way the old school fathers weave Scripture into their arguments.
i never new what the cappadocians were as far as natural theologians. before i read this book, they were my heroes as Christians; now they are my heroes as intellectuals as well. he compares the effect that the cappadocians had on the east with the effect that augustine had on the west; as a Catholic, i'm half jealous :-)
to me, the cappadocians serve as a model for just how good Christian theology can get. their writings are saturated in beauty; their theology is absolutely Trinitarian. they met their world head on and analyzed it in light of what Christianity could give. they combined an uncommon ability to both stand for the Orthodox and Catholic faith and to be vibrant and bold in their theology.
a bonus is pelikan's portraying macrina, the sister of basil and gregory of nyssa, as 'the fourth cappadocian' and a source of much that was great in her brothers.
i highly recommend this book. often, Christianity is accused of being 'paganized' from its encounter with hellenism. pelikan's study shows perhaps quite a different picutre: the Christianization of hellenism. at any rate, this wonderful book shows Christian theology at its best. i highly recommend it.
The Christianization of Hellenism  Aug 26, 2000
This is truly a gem in the field of Cappadocian studies.

Contents include: PART ONE: Natural Theology as Apologetics 1)Classical Culture and Christian Theology 2)Natural Theology as Apologetics 3)The Language of Negation 4)God and the Ways of Knowing 5)The Many and the One 6)THe Universe as Cosmos 7)Space, Time, and Deity 8)The Image of God 9)The Source of All Good 10)From Tyche to Telos

PART TWO: Natural Theology as Presupposition 11)Christian Theology and Classical Culture 12)Natural Theology as Presupposition 13)The Lexicon of Transcendence 14)Faith as the Fulfillment of Reason 15)The One and the Three 16)Cosmos as Contingent Creation 17)The Economy of Salvation 18)The Metamorphosis of Human Nature 19)The Worship Offered by Rational Creatures 20)The Life of the Aeon to Come

Glossary of Greek Technical Terms From Sources Ancient and Modern



Other books of interest may include: The Works of Ss. Basil the Great, Gregory Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzus. These may be found in many series. "Clement's use of Aristotle" by Elizabeth Clark; "The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers" by Jaeger; Meijering's "Othodoxy and Platonism in Athanasius: Synthesis or Antithesis?"; Lossky's "Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church" and "In the Image and Likeness of God"; Stead's "Philosophy in Christian Antiquity"; "The Hellenic-Christian Philosophical Tradition" by Cavarnos; Georges Florovsky's "Aspects of Church History" and The Eastern Fathers of the Fourth Century"; "The Cappadocians" by Anthony Meredith; "The Fathers Speak" ed. Georges Barrios. Enjoy!


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