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

Jaroslav Pelikan

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One of the world’s leading scholars offers unique insights into the history and significance of Christian creeds

Eminent theologian Jaroslav Pelikan has been translating, editing, and studying the Christian creeds and confessions of faith for sixty years. This book is the historical and theological distillation of that work. In Credo, Pelikan addresses essential questions about the Christian tradition: the origins of creeds; their function; their political role; how they relate to Christian institutions, worship, and service; and how they help to explain the major divisions of the Christian church and of Christian history.

Credo standsas an independent reference work devoted to the subject of what creeds and confessions are and what their role in history has been. It is also the first of the four volumes of Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition, edited by Pelikan and Valerie Hotchkiss.

Jaroslav Pelikan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and the first John W. Kluge Scholar at the Library of Congress. During his distinguished career he has received dozens of honors and awards, including 42 honorary degrees. He is the author of nearly forty books and the editor of scores of others.

"The sweep of the material presented is truly magnificent. Jaroslav Pelikan’s companion volume, Credo, elevates the project from a work of reference, immensely valuable in itself, to an original contribution on the themes, forms and functions of Christian confessions of faith.”—Geoffrey Wainwright, Cushman Professor of Christian Theology, Duke University

Creeds and Confessions of Faith supercedes Philip Schaff’s great multi-volume collection of creeds first published in 1870. There is no doubt that this new capacious assemblage will be the standard resource for the next century and an indispensable tool for serious theological research. The companion volume, Credo, proves once again—if proof were needed—why Jaroslav Pelikan, learned, passionate, and literate, is the premier historical theologian of our time.”—Lawrence S. Cunningham, John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology, The University of Notre Dame

"As might be expected, this is a wholly magisterial survey of an immense quantity of disparate material. I can think of no other work that remotely approaches what this sets out to do, and I have no doubt at all that it will become one of the indispensable works of reference for any theological scholar."—Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury 

"Jaroslav Pelikan has written a work which is likely to become a—perhaps the—major resource on the development of Christian creeds and confessions for both scholars and ecumenists alike."—The Right Reverend Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe 

“Jaroslav Pelikan and Valerie Hotchkiss’s Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition, with Professor Pelikan’s Credo, far exceeds our expectations. The exhaustive collection of texts with erudite commentaries replaces all works of its kind. These are books to be used.”—Thomas Hopko, Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary  

“A scholar and teacher of the creeds and their significance for nearly 50 years, Pelikan is devoted to the creedal tradition, as evidenced in this work’s thoroughness and erudition. An expansive and fascinating array of topics is covered under four broad headings (‘Definition’, ‘Genesis,’ ‘Authority,’ ‘History’), and every conceivable perspective and line of discussion appears to be examined. The volume can be consulted as a comprehensive reference text or dived into at any number of points. . . . Essential.”—Choice

"A defense not only of the volumes it introduces . . . but also of [Pelikan’s] whole remarkable career, dedicated as it has been to the study of what Christians down the centuries have believed, taught and confessed. He writes, as always, with magisterial command of all possible sources in all known languages and a gift for the occasional elegant epigram derived in part, I suspect, from a lifetime of reading Edward Gibbon for fun."—William C. Placher, Christian Century

“[Pelikan’s] outstanding scholarship puts in perspective the development of the many creeds and confessions that followed the Nicene Creed of 325 or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381.”—Michael Orsi, FCS Quarterly

“A substantive study of the role of creeds, statements of faith, confessions, and other related material over the whole history of Christianity. . . . A work of keen insight, great learning, and ecumenical generosity, written out of deep devotion to the ‘one holy catholic and apostolic Church’ confessed in the Nicene Creed. . . . Pelikan has designed a particularly useful index to creeds and confessions that will endear him to serious students of the history of Christian thought.”—Robert Louis Wilken, First Things

"A remarkable resource. . . . [A] magnificent work."—Iain S. Maclean, Lutheran Quarterly

“Both Pelikan and Yale University Press have done the Christian world an immense favor in the release of this fine volume. . . . Pelikan, a masterful historian of theology, places the creeds and confessions within their historical milieu and shows them as important indexes of the thinking of various ages of human thought. This work is . . . unquestionably complete. The weaving of the creedal with the historical is unique to Pelikan and is a gift to the church in understanding its faith history.”—Jeffrey A. Mackey, The Living Church

“One cannot speak too highly of the mass of information and precise discussion Pelikan provides here. All students of creeds and confessions will find Credo an indispensable resource. The work is an achievement unlikely to be surpassed.”—Donald K. McKim, Theological Studies

“Pelikan’s study introduces the readers into the history of the creeds and their ever-mounting elaboration. . . . [Pelikan’s] book is learned, indeed massively so, yet because of the lucidity of its prose it is accessible to the general reader.”—Luke Timothy Johnson, Washington Post Book World

"Impeccably researched. . . . Offers the intensity of scholarship, the clear insights of a career of study, precise language, and a delineated accessibility for the beginning student of theology as well as the seasoned professor of historical theology.  The scope of the book is typically Pelikan. It is still, even though expected, simply amazing. . . . A must have book for the serious student of theology. It will stand the test of time as a reference book; and will more than likely produce other books on the subject and not a few dissertations."—Wm. David Kirkpatrick, Southwestern Journal of Theology

"Credo serves both as a historical and thematic introduction to the multivolume Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition and also as a freestanding introduction to the history and nature of creeds and confessions. The historical breadth and ecumenical scope of the study is truly impressive." -- Randall C. Zachman, Journal of Religion

"Credo is work of massive learning and scholarship, and is clearly marked by the author's own keen enthusiasm for the Christian tradition. . . . Excellent."—Shawn W. J. Keough, Toronto Journal of Theology

"This is a book which you must have. Read it all the way through, from front to back, or take the detours, which Pelikan provides throughout, to previous subjects and subjects to come."—Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Scottish Journal of Theology

"A reference work that should be required reading for historical and theological scholars of every Christian tradition. Though most readers will likely use it for reference rather than reading it straight through, Credo speaks in [an] accessible, engaging voice that invites sustained reading. . . . Pelikan offers his readers the culmination of a lifetime of scholarship on creeds and confessions. He illumines why they are necessary, while attending in detail to the varied ways they have functioned in particular times and places. Reading this volume leaves one with deep appreciation for and excitement about the dynamism of creeds and confessions that have sustained and nurtured Christian faith over 2000 years."—Martha Moore-Keish, Bulletin of the Institute for Reformed Theology

Co-Winner of the 2004 John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities and Social Sciences, given by the Kluge Foundation
ISBN: 9780300109740
Publication Date: December 12, 2005
672 pages, 6 x 9
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