The Vindication of Tradition

The 1983 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities

Jaroslav Pelikan

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September 10, 1986
104 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300036381
Paper



In this carefully reasoned book, noted historian and theologian Jaroslav Pelikan offers a moving and spirited defense of the importance of tradition.

“Magisterial…. Ought not to be missed.”—M.D. Aeschliman, National Review

“A soul-stirring self-analysis, no less than a distillation of the life-work of the living historian best qualified to provide solutions to those ‘Tradition versus Bible-Only’ controversies that have plagued Christianity since the Reformation.”—L.K. Shook, Canadian Catholic Review

“Admirably concise and penetrating.”—Merle Rubin, The Christian Science Monitor

“It takes a scholar thoroughly steeped in a subject to be able to write with lucidity and charm about its traditions.  When the scholar is Dr. Pelikan, the result is a kind of classic, something sure to become a standard text for an interested public.”—Northrop Frye

“Wit, grace, style, and wisdom vie with knowledge.  A rare combination, delightful to mind and memory.  Recommended broadly for scholarly and general use on many levels, and especially among theology students, undergraduate and graduate.”—Choice

“Pelikan’s customary erudition, wit, and gracious style are evident throughout this stimulating volume.”—Harold E. Remus, Religious Studies Review

“The book clearly constitutes a unified plea that modern society finds ways and means to recapture the resources of the past and to overcome its fear of the tyranny of the dead.”—Heiko A. Oberman, Times Literary Supplement

Jaroslav Pelikan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University.  Among his many books are Jesus Through the Centuries and the multivolume work The Christian Tradition.

"It takes a scholar thoroughly steeped in a subject to be able to write with lucidity and charm about its traditions.  When the scholar is Dr. Pelikan, the result is a kind of classic, something sure to become a standard text for an interested public.  It is, of course, relatively easy to write about tradition if one fails to distinguish it from traditionalism: Dr. Pelikan's mature scholarship never does this."—Northrop Frye

"Exciting as these lectures were as orally presented in Washington and elsewhere, the issuing of the definitive text is an important event: it provides Pelikan's own critical analysis of the substance of the materials he has already presented over a lifetime.  Thus this new volume is more than a highly readable re-presentation; it is a soul-stirring self-analysis, no less than a distillation of the life-work of the living historian best qualified to provide solutions to those "Tradition versus Bible-Only" controversies that have plagued Christianity since the Reformation."—L.K.  Shook, Canadian Catholic Review
 

"Wit, grace, style, and wisdom vie with knowledge.  A rare combination, delightful to mind and memory.  Recommended broadly for scholarly and general use on many levels, and especially among theology students, undergraduate and graduate."—Choice

"Admirably concise and penetrating."—Merle Rubin, Christian Science Monitor

"A small work with big themes, handled expertly."—Kirkus Reviews

"Pelikan is a master of his material and an interpreter who penetrates a complicated matrix of ideas with extraordinary clarity.  These lectures state his case that both the integrity of a given identity and the context of change constitute the dynamic elements of a living tradition.  Essential for academic collections."—Library Journal

"Pelikan's customary erudition, wit, and gracious style are evident throughout this stimulating volume."—Harold E.  Remus, Religious Studies Review

"The book clearly constitutes a unified plea that modern society find ways and means to recapture the resources of the past and to overcome its fear of the tyranny of the dead."—Heiko A. Oberman, Times Literary Supplement

"This magisterial volume...ought not to be missed, as it embodies a restoration of concentricity and sanity after the 'incessant autobiography' and intellectual promiscuity of the 1960s and their aftermath. . . . In its defiance of our noisy, nihilistic modern American amnesia, this short, eloquent book brings great credit to its author, his university, and the Godly and humane tradition he represents, the tradition of Arnold and Newman: of the best that has been thought, said, and done, within and beyond the world."—M. D. Aeschliman, National Review

"A measured, undefensive defense of the ways in which tradition transmits itself. It is well illustrated with examples from art, literature, liturgy, and doctrine."—Mary Gerhart, Commonweal

"A rich resource for anyone interested in considering the character and function of tradition, religious or secular."—Rebecca Weaver, Interpretation

"This elegant little book . . . is a distillate of much learning and long reflection on the role and relevance of 'tradition' in human cultures generally. . . . The book's chief virtue is its manifestation of academic discourse at its best: erudition lightly borne, a lively way with words, sparkling obiter dicta, a wry wit, understated insights."—Albert C. Outler, Church History

"This book presents Pelikan's systematic reflection on his lifelong study of continuity and change in the development of tradition.  The result of this reflection is a serious and persuasive 'vindication of tradition' which could be used with great benefit as a prologomenon to historical and doctrinal study."—Randy L. Maddox, Theological Studies

"No reviewer can improve on the admirable concision-not to say wisdom-of these observation."—Salisbury Review

"Pelikan is one of a handful of historians who are, consistently, both entertaining and enlightening.  I put his book down not only moved by a wise and informative defense of tradition, but also made aware, as I had never been before, of the inspiration behind Pelikan's scholarly work."—Steven Ozment, Harvard University 
 
 

Winner of the Haskins Medal for 1985, given by the Medieval Academy of America
Jesus Through the Centuries
His Place in the History of Culture

Jaroslav Pelikan; With a new Preface by the author

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Development of Christian Doctrine
Some Historical Prolegomena

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Credo
Historical and Theological Guide to Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition

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Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition
Set: Credo, Creeds vols. 1-3, and CD-ROM

Edited by Jaroslav Pelikan and Valerie R. Hotchkiss

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Christianity and Classical Culture
The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism

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