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s/t: A History of the Development of Doctrine In this five-volume opus--now available in its entirety in paperback--Pelikan traces the development of Christian doctrine from the first century to the twentieth. "Pelikan's The Christian Tradition [is] a series for which they must have coined words like 'magisterial'."--Martin Marty, Commonweal


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s/t: A History of the Development of Doctrine In this five-volume opus--now available in its entirety in paperback--Pelikan traces the development of Christian doctrine from the first century to the twentieth. "Pelikan's The Christian Tradition [is] a series for which they must have coined words like 'magisterial'."--Martin Marty, Commonweal

30 review for The Christian Tradition 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition 100-600

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    A definitive history of Christian Doctrine. This is probably not the best place to begin learning about the subject, since Pelikan assumes an acquaintance with such terms as Sabellianism, Pelagianism, hypostasis, ousia, etc, but I believe that even a beginner--at least one equipped with a strong theological interest and a good theological dictionary--could benefit greatly from this volume. Pelikan is not only a profound thinker, but an organized one, and he writes clear, elegant, accessible pros A definitive history of Christian Doctrine. This is probably not the best place to begin learning about the subject, since Pelikan assumes an acquaintance with such terms as Sabellianism, Pelagianism, hypostasis, ousia, etc, but I believe that even a beginner--at least one equipped with a strong theological interest and a good theological dictionary--could benefit greatly from this volume. Pelikan is not only a profound thinker, but an organized one, and he writes clear, elegant, accessible prose.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    This volume is the beginning of Jaroslav Pelikan's legendary treatment of Christian Tradition. Not only does he examine the beliefs of the ancient church, but he also highlights ideas and concepts, along with beliefs, that will spring up into controversies in the Medieval and Reformation periods. Pelikan begins his treatment with a hearty emphasis on the importance of tradition. He notes that radical solae scripturae philosophies, while wanting to have orthodox conclusions, do so by denying yet p This volume is the beginning of Jaroslav Pelikan's legendary treatment of Christian Tradition. Not only does he examine the beliefs of the ancient church, but he also highlights ideas and concepts, along with beliefs, that will spring up into controversies in the Medieval and Reformation periods. Pelikan begins his treatment with a hearty emphasis on the importance of tradition. He notes that radical solae scripturae philosophies, while wanting to have orthodox conclusions, do so by denying yet presupposing the normative role of tradition. It is seen that the heretics (be they Roman, Eastern, or Protestant) are the ones who have deviated from the old paths. The Church's origin is found in the Old Testament, or rather it's fulfillment is in being the New Israel. This New Israel would fundamentally rework the Old Testament categories around the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. From this point the church would address (and at the same time be influenced) by Classical philosophy and Mediterranean paganisms (less so on the latter). These two foils, in the parts where they were true, were "preparations for the gospel," particularly the Logos movements that gave rise to Logos Christologies. Having established a base the Church began to address "heretical" movements: Montanism, Gnosticism, and Novationism. The only way the Church could successfully deal with these movements was to establish the criteria of apostolic continuity: an apostolic creed, an apostolic canon, and an apostolic succession. Discussions would soon move to formulating the Trinity and the Hypostatic Union of Christ. Special attention is given to "why" different heresies would arise from Alexandria and Antioch and while Chalcedon provided a via media, it, too, raised new problems. Pelikan then moves to Nature, Grace, and St Augustine. St Augustine is seen as the champion against Pelagianism and Donatism, but early interpreters of St Augustine saw he paid too high a price with his predestinarianism. Nonetheless, even denials of Augustinianism were phrased in Augustinian concepts and language. The later church had to reject St Augustine's "double predestination" because it was not the faith that the catholic church had always believed, which is the summary of Pelikan's last chapter.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Withun

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  4. 5 out of 5

    Rapp

    Having read several other books on church history, I had looked forward to beginning Jaroslav Pelikan's 5-volume history of The Christian Tradition. Judging from the comments of historians such as Henry Chadwick, Alister McGrath and Justo Gonzalez, Jaroslav Pelikan's work was as close to the definitive church history as had been written. Unfortunately, I found this book to be overly academic and less helpful than these other authors' works. Pelikan carefully holds himself to his subject, the Chr Having read several other books on church history, I had looked forward to beginning Jaroslav Pelikan's 5-volume history of The Christian Tradition. Judging from the comments of historians such as Henry Chadwick, Alister McGrath and Justo Gonzalez, Jaroslav Pelikan's work was as close to the definitive church history as had been written. Unfortunately, I found this book to be overly academic and less helpful than these other authors' works. Pelikan carefully holds himself to his subject, the Christian tradition, as opposed to a history of Christian thought or Christian doctrine. Pelikan's frequently reiterated definition of Christian tradition is that which the church "believed, taught and confessed." The seemingly minor differences between these three is actually important, for one does not necessarily teach everything that they believe, and the faith one confesses before the unbelieving world may very well be a reworked version of the creed taught to the faithful. The focus on what the church "believed, taught and confessed" comes at a cost to external influences, such as personality conflicts, politics, culture, language, etc. Pelikan too easily relegates such influences to other disciplines or to another sort of book, making this book rather academic; that is, overly one dimensional and lacking vivacity. A recurring lesson of this book is that doctrine was never formed in a vacuum. The Apologists of the first and second century engaged the Jewish and Greek worldviews, and this engagement impacted both the topics that were debated as well as the form of the arguments. From this portion of the book, I especially enjoyed Pelikan's discussion of the immortality of the soul, which along with the absoluteness of God, was "one of the most reliable indications of the continuing hold of Greek philosophy on Christian philosophy." This holdover has had ramifications that are still felt in the Christian faith's doctrine of hell. Debates with heretics within the Church were the catalysts for many of the statements of what the church "believed, taught and confessed." I came to greatly appreciate the challenge of being a Christian in the first and second centuries, when there was as yet no clear answer to the question "what are the scriptures." Indeed, the orthodox answer came as a response to a canon formed Marcion the heretic. In other debates within the church regarding heresy (such as Arianism) I noticed how discussions became unnecessarily polarized. At the end of the book, Pelikan discusses Augustine's battles with the Donatists and Pelagians, which earned him the title Doctor Grace. I found especially interesting to read of the development of various doctrines of predestination at this early time. Throughout the book, it became clear that Christians today wrestle with many of the same heresies or questions as they did many centuries ago. As Pelikan concludes his story of the development of doctrine from 100-600, he shows how an orthodox consensus in both the East and West emerged. The decisions of four important church councils were instrumental factors toward this consensus. (These councils were Nicea in 325, Constantinople in 381, Ephesus in 431 and Chalcedon in 451). That they came to be received "as the four books of the Holy Gospels" reminds one of the objections of a certain disrupter of consensus, whose 95 Theses would change the Church and ensure that church historians had a few more books to write.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    This book is comparable to Kelly's Christian Doctrine as regards content and approach, but more detailed as it is part of what became a five volume series. Pelikan is a constructive Christian in the sense that he essays a positive appropriation of the many streams of the tradition without much seeming to favor one over another. It is, in other words, an ecumenical Christian work. Pelican himself converted from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy in his later years and his work lacks the Western Roman orien This book is comparable to Kelly's Christian Doctrine as regards content and approach, but more detailed as it is part of what became a five volume series. Pelikan is a constructive Christian in the sense that he essays a positive appropriation of the many streams of the tradition without much seeming to favor one over another. It is, in other words, an ecumenical Christian work. Pelican himself converted from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy in his later years and his work lacks the Western Roman orientation of many such surveys.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melody Schwarting

    An excellent beginning to Pelikan’s history of doctrine series. There’s a lot of great information in this series that’s really helpful for studying the early church as a whole. As Pelican helpfully explains in his definitions, this isn’t a work of historical theology (he is not surveying individual theologians), nor is it a history of Christian thought. Pelican defines “doctrine” as that which is “believed, taught, and confessed.” (3) This is certainly a unique and helpful volume for historians An excellent beginning to Pelikan’s history of doctrine series. There’s a lot of great information in this series that’s really helpful for studying the early church as a whole. As Pelican helpfully explains in his definitions, this isn’t a work of historical theology (he is not surveying individual theologians), nor is it a history of Christian thought. Pelican defines “doctrine” as that which is “believed, taught, and confessed.” (3) This is certainly a unique and helpful volume for historians and theologians who desire to understand the early days of Christian doctrine. I’m eager to see what Pelican does in the rest of the series.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matt Pitts

    Pelikan is a master. This work is worthy not only of a read, but of a re-read. His writing is superb, his knowledge of the sources extensive, and the breadth of his work impressive. Even where the reader might disagree with him, he remains helpful and worth reading. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give him is that his work helped inspire me to read the fathers and other figures of the early church for myself. For a narrative history of the early church one will have to look elsewhere, but Pelikan is a master. This work is worthy not only of a read, but of a re-read. His writing is superb, his knowledge of the sources extensive, and the breadth of his work impressive. Even where the reader might disagree with him, he remains helpful and worth reading. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give him is that his work helped inspire me to read the fathers and other figures of the early church for myself. For a narrative history of the early church one will have to look elsewhere, but for a doctrinal history of the early centuries of the Christian faith, Pelikan will be hard to beat.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Leandro Guimarães

    Very interesting, with a few, subtle, fundamental flaws: acritical acceptance of unbiblical developments of the II Century as if they were mere continuance from the Apostles, of the subordination of grace to ritualism, and some unexplained logical jumps.

  9. 4 out of 5

    M Christopher

    The first volume of the acclaimed five volume series by Jaroslav Pelikan on the history of Christian doctrine. This is quite different than any other church history I've read, focusing as it does on the slow development of doctrine over the centuries rather than on great men/women, national concerns, the papacy, etc. Pelikan does an excellent job in this first volume in showing how doctrines we now take for granted, as well as those we have all but forgotten, rose in answer to the most compellin The first volume of the acclaimed five volume series by Jaroslav Pelikan on the history of Christian doctrine. This is quite different than any other church history I've read, focusing as it does on the slow development of doctrine over the centuries rather than on great men/women, national concerns, the papacy, etc. Pelikan does an excellent job in this first volume in showing how doctrines we now take for granted, as well as those we have all but forgotten, rose in answer to the most compelling questions Christians of the time had about their faith or the answers they wished to give to outsiders. Pelikan's skill as a writer makes the book quite readable, even in the sections about the most obscure or convoluted points of early Church Christology or Trinitarianism. My friend, Rev. Dr. Charles Scalise, recommends these books to doctoral candidates. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    It's easy to see why this is a definitive text in the field. Pelikan's masterful opening volume to his great series is not always an easy read - it is pretty dense - but it is well-written, dense with references to ancient sources, and fascinating. This is what it purports to be: not an institutional, social, or liturgical history, but an intellectual history of the Christian movement from the time of the Apostles to the 6th century. Anyone who cares about what Christians believe and how we got t It's easy to see why this is a definitive text in the field. Pelikan's masterful opening volume to his great series is not always an easy read - it is pretty dense - but it is well-written, dense with references to ancient sources, and fascinating. This is what it purports to be: not an institutional, social, or liturgical history, but an intellectual history of the Christian movement from the time of the Apostles to the 6th century. Anyone who cares about what Christians believe and how we got to those beliefs should read Pelikan, and forget Dan Brown. The true story is much more interesting than the usual silly dismissals of the formation of Christian dogma.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dwight Davis

    Very helpful and readable history of the first 600 years of theological development. The approach of tracing specific doctrines rather than a chronological approach can be a bit confusing and leads to, at least for me, some jumbled timelines. But other than that this is an amazing work.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Naoise

    The person who chose this for my book club should feel bad. Pelikan is clearly an erudite scholar but christ he is repetitive and rambling. Maybe if you're already very well-versed in the history of the theology of the early church you'll like this but I (along with the person who picked it out for the book club) have found it quite a poor introduction. Pelikan doesn't summarize his points clearly and seems to dwell on some extremely inane topics while jumping over others. This is made particula The person who chose this for my book club should feel bad. Pelikan is clearly an erudite scholar but christ he is repetitive and rambling. Maybe if you're already very well-versed in the history of the theology of the early church you'll like this but I (along with the person who picked it out for the book club) have found it quite a poor introduction. Pelikan doesn't summarize his points clearly and seems to dwell on some extremely inane topics while jumping over others. This is made particularly clear in the ending where he essentially just trails off mid sente-

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Wilmotte

    A dry read, but extremely thorough and fair in its assessment of the major doctrinal movements from 100-600. Historical context would have been helpful for creating a full picture of the time; without it, Christian doctrine feels like it developed in a vacuum and it's hard to get a fuller picture of the origins of the Christian canon.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eric Parsons

    This is one extraordinarily dry read. I will grant that Pelikan gives a ton of detail, but the presentation is quite boring; I say this even knowing that I was reading this as a part of a theological master's degree program. Still, there is quite a bit of useful information here, just don't expect to be entertained.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sam Bostock

    Hard going but one of the most valuable things I've ever read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Howard Gordon

    In the first of five volumes, Pelikan describes the intellectual environment of early Christianity, including the role heterodoxy played in shaping orthodox doctrine.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cody Cunningham

    It’s not easy reading, but it’s a must-read for those interested in the development of doctrine in the early church.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aard

    The gold standard for the history the early Church’s development of doctrine. A must read for all Christians

  19. 5 out of 5

    Fr. Ted

    I think this was my 3rd time to read this through. I think an excellent review of the history of Church doctrine as it shows how it unfolded and what the contending ideas were.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rad

    Caveat lector: whereas Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History was occasionally prone to conversational phrasings along the likes of "so much, then, concerning him" or "so much, then, concerning these things" as segues from one train of thought to the next, you'll find no such linguistic waste in volume 1 of Pelikan's magisterial treatment of the history of Christian doctrine. Undoubtedly such trite colloquialisms would be seen by Pelikan as unorthodox in that their conversational nature was detr Caveat lector: whereas Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History was occasionally prone to conversational phrasings along the likes of "so much, then, concerning him" or "so much, then, concerning these things" as segues from one train of thought to the next, you'll find no such linguistic waste in volume 1 of Pelikan's magisterial treatment of the history of Christian doctrine. Undoubtedly such trite colloquialisms would be seen by Pelikan as unorthodox in that their conversational nature was detrimental to the subject matter at hand, having no overt substance or content to offer. Pelikan is the church's Sergeant Joe Friday, who is interested in "just the facts, ma'am." Put differently, the book is dense. When Professor Pelikan wants to shift the subject matter from one line of thought to another (and who are you, dear reader, to even question such a transition; your only option is to obediently follow), he does so pragmatically, with an appropriate header (not that "Presuppositions of Christological Doctrine" sufficiently prepares the novitiate for the avalanche that follows). I purchased this book on January 12, 2006 (thank you, Amazon) and thus apparently used it as an occasional reference for eight years before having the courage to attack it from beginning to end over the course of the past seven weeks. To those who have read through it in a shorter period of time (and in larger chunks), I commend you. In an introductory autobiographical essay for Orthodoxy & Western Culture (written in honor of Pelikan's 80th birthday), Pelikan recalls that in 1944, at the age of 20, he entered the PhD program at the University of Chicago's divinity school "fully conscious (probably more than fully conscious) of my powers," which included mastery of several languages. As the owner of several of his books, who am I to disagree? I humbly offer five stars -- as if the world needs an additional voice proclaiming his unprecedented scholarship.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tyson Guthrie

    Pelikan offers an excellent overview of the important features of patristic insight. It is not a Church History in the sense of providing the chronological details of the events of the relevant centuries, but he does offer a doctrinal chronology. His starting point is the starting point of Christian history, but as these concerns transcend chronology (e.g. the use of Christian apologetic in the 5th century), Pelikan does not limit his treatment chronologically. Pelikan is useful for his demonstr Pelikan offers an excellent overview of the important features of patristic insight. It is not a Church History in the sense of providing the chronological details of the events of the relevant centuries, but he does offer a doctrinal chronology. His starting point is the starting point of Christian history, but as these concerns transcend chronology (e.g. the use of Christian apologetic in the 5th century), Pelikan does not limit his treatment chronologically. Pelikan is useful for his demonstration of the influence of liturgy upon doctrinal development. No doubt for the sake of brevity, many doctrinal treatments are limited to few, or even single representatives. This is most apparent both in his treatment of ante-Chalcedonian Christology, and also in his discussion of grace. The Christological debate reads like an exclusive conversation between Theodore of Mopsuestia and Cyril of Alexandria. This is more helpful than most summaries in that it highlights the two major streams of Christological thought, rather than pigeon-holing the theologies under the names of the heretics lying at the extreme ends of these streams. If all 5 volumes covered this era, perhaps the reader could have benefited from a broader sampling of these theologies, or perhaps a glance at the role of grace in the Eastern church. As it is, Pelikan's work is an excellent summary, and is required reading for any student of Christian history or theology.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Argin Gerigorian

    Pelikan is a great author with keen insight into the church fathers. This work was very well written and documented. He will serve as a primer future guide to the patristics. Although Pelikan would like to see somethings in the patristics that are not there he remains objective and simply brings to the table what they believed. Pelikan in this volume dealt with a vast range of topics from the Law and Gospel, the True Israel, The Expectations of the Nations, Meaning of Salvation, Means of Grace, Pelikan is a great author with keen insight into the church fathers. This work was very well written and documented. He will serve as a primer future guide to the patristics. Although Pelikan would like to see somethings in the patristics that are not there he remains objective and simply brings to the table what they believed. Pelikan in this volume dealt with a vast range of topics from the Law and Gospel, the True Israel, The Expectations of the Nations, Meaning of Salvation, Means of Grace, Christ as Homoousios, etc. etc. Some of the things he writes are: "The Decalgoue as summarized and reinterpreted by the ethical teachings of Jesus was accorded a special place in the church." pg. 60 "The definition of a doctrine of sacraments in general and the determination of their number at seven came only with the beginnings of scholastics theology in the Latin West, and they seem to have been adopted by the Greek East on the basis of their Western development." pg. 163 [On adiophora in the early church Pelikan notes] "...early in the post-apostolic era millenarianism was regarded as a mark neither of orthodoxy nor heresy, but as one permissible opinion among others withing the range of permissible opinions." pg. 125 Overall the book was really good and everyone will profit from it, Christian or not. 5/5 for Pelikan!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marks54

    This book is the first in series that traces the development of Christian doctrine from the beginning (100) to the modern age after the Reformation. This volume covers the period from 100-600. This is the closest to a definitive history that I am of and should more than satisfy the needs of everyone short of a professional theologian. I won't attempt a summary and will note the this book will require very careful reading and much thought to process. This is a demanding volume that will reward th This book is the first in series that traces the development of Christian doctrine from the beginning (100) to the modern age after the Reformation. This volume covers the period from 100-600. This is the closest to a definitive history that I am of and should more than satisfy the needs of everyone short of a professional theologian. I won't attempt a summary and will note the this book will require very careful reading and much thought to process. This is a demanding volume that will reward the effort. The author is a distinguished professor at Yale (I am not sure if he is still alive) but was the scholar selected to present the lecture series honoring the centennial of the University of Chicago. This particular volume most likely will surprise and even shock casual readers who are not aware of what they are getting into.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cody Case

    Incredible work of historical scholarship. Not surprising for this Yale situated master of over a dozen languages. The damn guy could type by age 3. His mom said he never like holding pens much. What's most notable about this work is the reasearch. He notes every reference, regardless of how obscure (and believe me, he knows them all), and in the end his bibliography adds up to nearly 200 pages. Quite impressive. And who can argue with his historical accuracy when he's re-presenting that history Incredible work of historical scholarship. Not surprising for this Yale situated master of over a dozen languages. The damn guy could type by age 3. His mom said he never like holding pens much. What's most notable about this work is the reasearch. He notes every reference, regardless of how obscure (and believe me, he knows them all), and in the end his bibliography adds up to nearly 200 pages. Quite impressive. And who can argue with his historical accuracy when he's re-presenting that history in every other sentence?! It's terrific. However, if you're not thoroughly interested in the most minute and remote details of doctrinal debate (who is?), then this series of books will probably bore you to tears.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    This is the first in a five book series by Jaroslav Pelikan, who, before his recent death, might have known more about church history than anyone other English speaker. I gave it five starts because this series is, more or less, a perfect example of historical scholarship: insightful, easy to read, good for reference. In this volume, Pelikan traces Christian doctrine from its origins to the end of the six century, after the creeds had been written, several councils had been formed, and the stand This is the first in a five book series by Jaroslav Pelikan, who, before his recent death, might have known more about church history than anyone other English speaker. I gave it five starts because this series is, more or less, a perfect example of historical scholarship: insightful, easy to read, good for reference. In this volume, Pelikan traces Christian doctrine from its origins to the end of the six century, after the creeds had been written, several councils had been formed, and the standards of orthodoxy for future Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Christians had been written. Pelikan shows how all of these doctrines came about, and also sets the stage for the impending Catholic / Orthodox split.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Davede

    Great, great, great book. Very fascinating analysis of the contributions to the history of Church doctrine by Jewish thought, Hellenistic thought, and examination of the Scriptures. Though at times a bit academic, and I had to run off to Wikipedia to look up some philosophical terms or descriptions of philosophical systems, for the most part it was clear and simple to read. The chapter on Augustine was enlightening and very skillfully explained the circumstances of the development of Augustinism Great, great, great book. Very fascinating analysis of the contributions to the history of Church doctrine by Jewish thought, Hellenistic thought, and examination of the Scriptures. Though at times a bit academic, and I had to run off to Wikipedia to look up some philosophical terms or descriptions of philosophical systems, for the most part it was clear and simple to read. The chapter on Augustine was enlightening and very skillfully explained the circumstances of the development of Augustinism (and vindicated it somewhat!). Favorite chapters were the first few and the last.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Philip Tadros

    March 11/17-Finished reading "Praeparatio Evangelica", chapter 1 of this epic work, which learnedly summarizes the interaction of nascent Christian theology with both Judaism and classic/Hellenic philosophy. May 11/17-Made a lot of progress through this and finished all but the last chapter. It's a slow trek. It's not written for inspiration and a great deal of effort and patience (and frustration) trying to gain an understanding of how doctrine developed. The chapter on the Person of Christ was March 11/17-Finished reading "Praeparatio Evangelica", chapter 1 of this epic work, which learnedly summarizes the interaction of nascent Christian theology with both Judaism and classic/Hellenic philosophy. May 11/17-Made a lot of progress through this and finished all but the last chapter. It's a slow trek. It's not written for inspiration and a great deal of effort and patience (and frustration) trying to gain an understanding of how doctrine developed. The chapter on the Person of Christ was well worth it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Moore

    This book provides a wonderful in-depth review of the early formation of Christian doctrine covering intellectual developments as outgrowths of the external challenges faced by the church as well as of the church's liturgical practice. As someone who has long grappled to come to a good understanding of the early development of Christianity, it is a wonderful book to keep around for reference purposes.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    This is not a chronological book on 'Church history,' but rather an examination of the formulation of Christian doctrine (be sure to have a good understanding of Church history before tackling this book). It is an astounding book that gives an in depth look at each doctrine under consideration (although much more could still be said). This is a must-read for all Christians in order to understand their apostolic and patristic heritage. I can't praise it enough.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I love Jaroslav Pelikan. The only downside is that he's a very clear thinker who has a peculiar way of writing and formating. The darn notes in the sidebar make you constantly peek over because Pelikan is a fan of vague comments like "a popular Catholic writer at the time said.." to which I think, "Well who is this guy?? So it's a struggle to read an entire page uninterrupted. But still the standard on what the early church believed.

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