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A Concise History of the Catholic Church, Revised and Expanded Edition Paperback – October 1, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0385411479 ISBN-10: 0385411472 Edition: 2nd
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This critically acclaimed history covers the events and doctrines that have shaped Catholic thought and action over the past two millennia. A singularly useful reference book, updated and expanded for the student of the 1990's.

From the Inside Flap

This critically acclaimed history covers the events and doctrines that have shaped Catholic thought and action over the past two millennia. A singularly useful reference book, updated and expanded for the student of the 1990's.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Image Books; 2nd edition (October 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385411472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385411479
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,264,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

173 of 192 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Paul VINE VOICE on April 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an interesting although deeply flawed look at Church history over the past 2,000 years. It is less a history than a collection of moments in time without a true feel for the flow of events. In addition, many prominent events are simply ignored or passed over with barely a mention. Let me give a few brief examples. Little is said of the collapse of the Church in North Africa where it was thriving (Saint Augustine was a bishop in Hippo) until it was replaced by Islam. The Crusades are barely discussed and their effects on relations with the peoples of the Middle East aren't discussed at all. The Thirty Years War is given a single paragraph. This is surprising because this war turned Europe from a continent of nations based on religion into a continent of nations where national loyalties were more important than religious loyalties. The loss of power of the religious leaders in Europe can be traced to that war.
This is fairly typical of the book. It discusses many prominent people such as Saint Augustine and Saint Jerome in some detail but fails to put their lives into a perspective of overall Church history. The flow of the book is often interrupted by jumps ahead and then back again so sometimes it is confusing because it isn't clear as to what events have occurred and which are still to come. There is also a tendency in the book to move too fast at times and introduce characters with a sentence and then never mention them again.
All that being said, the book is not a complete failure. Taken from a Catholic viewpoint, the book is an acceptable, although incomplete, introduction to Church history. The author does not try to hide the bad acts of the Church that led to the Reformation, for example, and instead points out the critical failures of the Church.
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86 of 97 people found the following review helpful By BlackCoffee on April 14, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book both comprehensive and informative. The author traces the history of the Catholic Church by following the papal progression from Peter to the John Paul. As with most historical texts, the concentration is on recent history with the first 1000 years providing a foundation for these events, but not extensively explored.
I liked this book because it expanded my knowledge and provided a well-developed review of liberalism in the Catholic Church. However, this book is not without the author's influence. He appears to feel redeemed with the changes set forth in Vatican II as validation of the liberalist approach to the Church. He also appears unhappy with the limits that John Paul has attempted to put on those revisions. He promotes a Catholic Church run by a democratic process similar to government. This perspective becomes clear at the end and, in reading the book, it was apparent that the author was not completely unbiased in his presentation of history. Throughout this presentation, there seemed to be a lack of faith in God as the creator. This was not disrespectful, but more agnostic in nature.
This being said, I would highly recommend the book for anyone interested in learning the history of the Catholic Church. Its attractiveness to non-Catholics will be its independent scholarly presentation of history. The faithful however, will notice a mild shortcoming as it promotes a move away from papal authority towards a Church more of man than of God.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Florida Dad VINE VOICE on November 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have searched far and wide for a one-volume history of the Catholic Church that meets the following criteria:

1) Readable to the Layman
2) Unapologetic about the glories of Catholicism yet unafraid to recount its shames
3) Understanding of each period in history in the context of that time, not through the lens of modern biases and beliefs
4) Treating the whole history of the Church without partiality towards those periods most favored by today's popular culture, such as the Reformation and modern times.

After reading "A Concise History of the Catholic Church," it is clear that my search continues. In regard to criteria #1 Fr. Bokenkotter succeeds - this book is an easy-to-read summary which doesn't get bogged down in tedious writing. As to criteria #2, Fr. Bokenkotter is less successful; he doesn't mind recounting the Church's shames through the ages, but he minimizes its glories, preferring to tend towards the modern idea that if the Catholic Church was involved, it probably involved corruption and abuses of power. Fr. Bokenkotter also falls short with criteria #3, as he tends to read modern presuppositions into ancient events, instead of understanding that everyone is a product of their times to some extent.

But it is with criteria #4 that Fr. Bokenkotter spectacularly fails. Just glance at the table of contents: he covers the foundational period of the Church - the years 30 A.D. to 600 A.D. - in just 120 pages, yet takes over 200 pages for the most recent century of Church history. This is breathtakingly myopic. Everything about Catholicism - practice, doctrine and prayer - burst forth from the seed of the first century during the patristic era which covers the time period up to the year 600 A.D. Yet Fr.
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63 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Rev. Christopher J. Pollard, Ph.L. S.T.L. on July 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
The author's hope that this book "would help Catholics cope with all the changes going on in the Church by showing them how much change had occurred in the past" is more clearly revealed toward the end of his novel work: "An important reason for this weakening of the Church's absolute authority in the realm of morality is a deepened sense of history. Catholics are now more aware of the relative nature of past decisions by ecclesiastical authority in the realm of morality." The "deepened" sense of history promoted by Bokenkotter is deprived of theological acumen and factual integrity.
Case in point. He claims that Pope John XXIII "seemed clearly to endorse the concept of historicity - the idea that Church doctrinal formulas are not immutable in themselves but historically conditioned answers given by the Church at a particular moment to questions raised by the thought currents of a particular time." In fact, in the same opening address at the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council, from which Bokenkotter offers a selective citation, Pope John XXIII states that "from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine." Pope John XXIII was no advocate of historical relativism on matters of doctrine. To imply such is historically inaccurate and theologically suspicious.
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