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Catholicism: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – December 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019954591X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199545919
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.5 x 4.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book has much to commend it ... a concise and balanced history of some of the chief figures in christology, from patristic, through medieval to modern times."

About the Author


Gerald O'Collins is a Research Professor of Theology at St Mary's University College, Twickenham.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
The book is easy to read.
Dr. Bojan Tunguz
Despite the fact that this is a very short book (as the title implies), I found it full of useful information.
a Christian family
It was very helpful and I definitely recommend it!
Cait

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on December 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Catholicism is a word that encompasses many distinct meanings: a religion, a church, a way of life, a geographical region perhaps. Catholicism is all of these things and much more - it is a Christian sect (to most of its members THE Christian sect) that strives to be all encompassing and universal, as its very name implies. And yet it is probably the form of Christianity that invites the most controversy. To the outsiders it can seem imposing and even threatening, and many groups implicitly or explicitly define their raison d'être as the opposition to Catholicism. The opposition is not limited to the outsiders, and there are many who call themselves Catholics who have serious issues and misgivings about certain aspects of Catholic teachings. And yet, for millions of people around the globe Catholicism remains a cornerstone of their lives and a source of great joy and fulfillment. It is often said that the Catholic Church is much vaster from the inside than it is from the outside. For all these vastly different points of view, be they opposing or promoting, it is useful to get themselves familiarized with what Catholicism really is. They owe it to themselves to understand this Catholicism better, and in achieving that goal I cannot think of a better first step than reading this slim yet informative book.

The book is written by Father Gerald O'Collins, S.J. research professor of theology at St. University College, Twickenham, and formerly the dean of the Faculty of Theology at Gregorian University in Rome. He is obviously a Catholic "insider," but that does not prevent him from making a book that is readable by and aimed at the general reader.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By a Christian family on July 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
Despite the fact that this is a very short book (as the title implies), I found it full of useful information.
It briefly outlines the history, practices and beliefs of Catholics impartially and honestly.
Furthermore, the author doesn't shy away from tackling the most troublesome issues related to the Church, including the lack of priests and the possible future ordination of women as deacons.
As a former Catholic for 23 years, I can say that this book does not contain any exageration or propaganda, but only real, proven facts.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. Cheung on August 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Written by a prominent Jesuit theologian, this small book more than describes the Catholic faith succintly; it contains subtle, perhaps slightly restrained, criticism of this long and tortous tradition.

Expectedly, at the outset he established that hierarchical organization already existed at the dawn of Christianity - backed up by early texts and letters. The contention is that this was what Jesus prescribed (pp. 5-7) - hence the basis of the legitimacy of Catholicism.

The author then describes the well known history of the Church. He does not shy away from the various tragedies it traversed. However he made some sobering commentries along the way. For instance, Bartolome de Las Casas' fight against the conquistadores (p. 30) was mentioned briefly. At times, it reads like a long list of travesties (e.g. Clement XI's ruining the mission in China [p. 33], Innocent X denouncing the Treaty of Westphalia [p. 41], Pius IX's anti-semitism [p. 44], etc.) Nevertheless, Father O'Collins rightly quotes Vatican II: "The Church is simultaneously holy and sinful, and must constantly 'follow the path of penitence and renewal' (p. 92)".

We are reminded that the weakening of the Church - marked symbolically by the loss of the papal states in 1870 - actually "led to the pope becoming the world's most prominent and influential religious office" and with John XXIII and John Paul II the moral authority of the Church is, at least partially but significantly, restored (p. 90). I am a bit surprised that when defending the Church's position in the second world war, that John XXIII has been recognized as a "Righteous Gentile" by Yad Vashem is not mentioned.

The book does a reasonable job in defining the doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Danny A. Pabon on October 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a good adquisition!!! I recomend to everybody to buy it. I am reading the original version, but this very short introduction is helpful for understanding the big one...
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By Steven C. Porter on July 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Short, but very thorough and well worth the read.
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