Item description for Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture by Jaroslav Pelikan...
Overview One of the most highly regarded works of intellectual history of the past decade, this book is an original and compelling study of the impact of Jesus on cultural, political, social, and economic history. Noted historian and thelolgian Jaroslav Pelikan reveals how the image of Jesus created by each successive epoch--from rabbi in the first century to liberator in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries--is a key to understanding the temper and values of that age.
Publishers Description One of the most highly regarded works of intellectual history of the past decade, Jesus Through the Centuries is an original and compelling study of the impact of Jesus on cultural, political, social, and economic history. Noted historian and theologian Jaroslav Pelikan reveals how the image of Jesus created by each successive epoch -- from rabbi in the first century to liberator in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries -- is a key to understanding the temper and values of that age.
Citations And Professional Reviews Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture by Jaroslav Pelikan has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
New York Times - 12/19/1999 page 36
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Studio: Yale University Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.26" Width: 5.44" Height: 0.82" Weight: 0.76 lbs.
Release Date Nov 10, 1999
Publisher Yale University Press
ISBN 0300079877 ISBN13 9780300079876
Availability 0 units.
More About Jaroslav Pelikan
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.
Reviews - What do customers think about Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture?
The Impact of Jesus on Culture Dec 17, 2007
This was a good survey of Jesus and the impact he has had on culture. We see Jesus the rabbi, as the early Christians emphasized his Jewishness. We see Christus victor and how the cross of Christ imspired the armies of Constantine and the Roman Empire to conquer the world.
We also learn about how the humanity of Christ impacted the 5th century ecumenical councils who didn't want to see the divinity of Christ overshadow his human side.
I also enjoyed the chapter about Christ the Liberator, and how this image of Christ inspired the work of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
There is also Christ the philospher, and how his teachings inspired Erasmus, and much later, Ralph Waldo Emerson and other humanists.
There is also Christ the Monk, the One who was completely committed to a life of self-denying discipleship. This image o Christ inspired St. Benedict and Bernard of Clairveaux.
The one thing these images of Christ have in common is that to one degree or another, they can be found in scripture. I recommend this book as a good historical study of Jesus and His impact on the cultures of the world.
Best Summary of Jesus and his Impact on Western Civilization Oct 23, 2007
Jaroslav Pelikan is one of the most admired men and intellectual giants of the past century. This book is a charming and exciting read that investigates the images of the "Jesus of Culture".
He examines the person of Jesus of Nazareth and how he has influenced Western Culture through the past 2000 years. Some reviewers have commented that it is boring, but I beg to differ. It is thoroughly exciting and worthy of any thinkers bookshelf. As a matter of fact, I do not think you can be a cultured person without reading any of Pelikan's works.
He investigates how the historical figure of Jesus Christ was interpreted by subsequent generations. This is highly enlightening, because he relates in each chapter the common thread that unites all these people, despite the (sometimes substantial) differences they have. The early Fathers, the later Fathers, the Neo-Platonist Fathers, the Scholastic Theologians, the mystics, the globalists, are all examined and discussed in scholarly detail.
The first chapter focuses on Jesus the Rabbi and talks about how modern scholarship is helping us uncover (again) the Jesus of history. Jesus the Jew, who lived in a particular time-period and was restricted by his own cultural surroundings, a Jesus who is not so much different from us, a Jesus who helps us contextualize the beliefs Christians now take for granted.
He moves in a logical progression, following the timeline of the Church until contemporary times. All in all this book is highly recommended and I hope you buy it, because you will not regret it.
A classic. Jan 12, 2007
This is not a devotional work, it is an insightful and valuable slice of intellectual history. Pelikan is a Christian, but distances himself from those he describes. I think the combination of sympathy and critical distance helps the reader have his own conversation with the persons described. Pelikan bites off more than he can chew. How can there be room in one readable, coherent and reasonably short book for Augustine and Blake, Renan and Ricci, Constantine and Gandhi? But Pelikan pulls it off pretty well, summarizing the history with interesting anecdotes, and making reasonable comments. Not all of which I think are correct, though.
"It is not sameness but kaleidescope variety that is its most conspicuous feature." Pelikan includes a great deal of evidence for both, though. Early Christians attempted to translate Jesus as "logos" to relate to Greek thinking. Modern Christians in India and China undertook a similar task of describing Jesus as the "fulfillment" of the deepest truths in those great cultures. (Work I have studied quite a bit.)
I give the book five stars, because it is brilliant, fascinating and informative. Nevertheless, Pelikan's position seems to soak up some of the subjectivm he chronicles.
It is important to distinguish between images that are arbitrary, and those that depend on a reality that can be referred to. One could write a book called "The Moon through the Centuries." But that would be a different kind of book from "Martians through the Centuries," because in the first case, we just need to look up to be corrected. Pelikan does not take sufficient account of the fact that Jesus is more like the first than the second case. Kaleidescope is a mosaic of splintered reflections. But the image whom these reflections reflected, like the moon, is still before us, in the Gospels. Pelikan tells us we are "dependant" on "oral tradition" that was "eventually deposited" in the Gospels, but in fact they were written within the lifetimes of the first Christians. Rather than "tradition," they could have relied on memory.
Pelikan does not distinguish between birds that settle in the nest as they find it, and birds that steal twigs to built their own. He weakly justifies the fantastic subjectivism that goes into revisionist historical Jesus studies. Pelikan is like a conscientious objector from the argument over what really happened. In a preface to a recent edition he admits, a bit coyly, that he doesn't buy the arguments of the "historical Jesus" crowd. Well and good: but this excellent book might be even better if the fascinating and fruitful subjectivism he chronicles were balanced with an occasional reminder that in the end, portraits are not about those who take the picture, but him whose portrait is taken.
Still, a deserved classic, and a wonderful way to look at history. Highly recommended.
Fascinating analysis of man's views of Jesus Dec 31, 2005
Over the last two thousand years man has struggled to understand the person of Jesus Christ. In this book, Master Historian, Jaroslav Pelikan, describes how various cultures have handled Jesus. It is truly a fascinating journey that taught me numerous things about Jesus, His church, and history that I did not know. Well worth reading if you are interested in this topic.
I do agree with a few other reviewers that some sections are hard to read, and that Pelikan jumps around a bit. My one critique is that the book becomes less interesting towards the last few chapters.
Despite these challenges, this book is well worth the effort. Simply put, Pelikan is a brilliant historian who possesses a depth of knowledge about this topic that few others can match.
Very good survey, but not great or inspirational Jul 29, 2004
This is a very useful, well researched, largely descriptive survey of how Western culture has viewed Jesus Christ. It's not a work of theology, it's not an inspirational work--it is what it is, interesting with its limitations. There's much that Pelikan faithfully records that's nonsense, such as Thomas Jefferson's breathtakingly vain and obtuse pronouncements about what Jesus really said. There are also some staggering transitions, such as the discussion on Emerson that suddenly veers into Dostoyevsky's The Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov (the greatest novel ever). It's worth a read, particularly in paperback, but understand that it won't bring you much closer at all to an answer to Jesus's own question, Who do men say that I am?