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The First Jesuits Paperback – April 14, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 478 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reissue edition (April 14, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067430313X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674303133
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Neither fazed nor overwhelmed, Father O'Malley never loses sight of the forest among the myriad trees...In this book three tenacious myths bite the dust. The first is that Ignatius had a detailed blueprint for his companions...A second myth is that the Jesuits were founded to combat the Reformation and to spearhead its Roman Catholic riposte, the Counter-Reformation...The third myth is that the Jesuits were founded as the pope's shock troops...Far from being a simple chronicle, it is an account of how the Jesuits, led by the internal dynamism of the Holy Spirit, responded to unpredictable events and new needs. (Peter Hebblethwaite New York Times Book Review)

A masterly account of the first generation [of Jesuits]...carried out with an economy and insight that compel admiration. (Anthony Grafton New York Review of Books)

This is surely the best book ever written in English on the first Jesuits and the early Society of Jesus. It may well be the best book on that topic ever written in any language. This is a work that is deeply original, always clear, often brilliant. (John Padberg America)

This is a major study of the first crucial years of one of the most important institutions of modern Europe. Perhaps the price of the impact of the Society of Jesus is that both hagiographical and demonic myths have encrusted its early history. This learned and eloquent study scrapes away those myths in order to tell the complex, almost improvisational history of the first twenty-five years of the Society of Jesus...No study in any language provides such an authoritative and fascinating picture. (Paul F. Grendler Journal of Modern History)

A magnificent achievement both of synthesis and interpretation. (Philip Endean, SJ The Way)

About the Author

John W. O’Malley is University Professor at Georgetown University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Graham Vawser on January 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
O'Malley limits the time-span of this book to the first quarter century of the life of the Society of Jesus - 1540 to 1565. He admits that "the terminal date of 1565 is somewhat arbitrary" [p4] though is does allow for insights to be gleaned from beyond the death of Ignatius, and takes in decisions from the Council of Trent (ended 1563).
O'Malley has structured the book so that it is not a simple chronology of the early followers of Ignatius.
The first chapters deal with the development of the "Company of Jesus", under Ignatius' guidance.
In chapters 3 to 5, he has reflected on the various aspects of Jesuit life: "Ministries of the Word of God" - covering preaching and teaching and the development of schools and colleges; "Sacraments, Worship, Prayer" - which includes information about the development of the ministries of confession and communion, music and prayer; "Works of Mercy" - looking at the various Jesuit ministries to the destitute.
Chapters 6 to 8 provide information on the specific contributions made through the Jesuit movement in those early years - particularly reflections on how Jesuit schooling contributed to the church's development and renewal, on the way in which the "Religious and Theological Culture" of the Jesuit movement shaped the development of learning, and on the relationship between the Jesuits and others within the life of the church struggling through the troubled times of the Reformation.
Chapter 9 looks at the way in which the Jesuits of those early days developed their understandings of their ministry to be better able to fulfil their mission in future years "to the greater glory of God".
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Hobbs on April 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Writing the history of the Society of Jesus would be a daunting task for any historian. Luckily, John O'Malley has some advantages. First and foremost, Father O'Malley is himself a Jesuit. Because of his membership in the order, he wrote this book with access to the Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu, the one hundred and twenty-five volume collection of letters and manuscripts associated with the history of the Society. In addition to the use of this and other excellent primary sources, O'Malley wisely sets strict limits on the scope of his project. His book focuses only on the first twenty-five years of the Jesuits, from its foundation in 1540 to 1565, an end date that the author admits is rather arbitrary but allows him to draw an organic and complete picture of the early goals, achievements, and frustrations of the Jesuits. The presence behind the entire work is Ignatius, the first general of the order and, to O'Malley's mind, the single causative element of the Society's foundation and success. It was Ignatius who not only developed the vision of the Society, but dictated their "way of proceeding," the uniquely Jesuit modus operandi. O'Malley's main argument, stated succinctly in both his introduction and conclusion, is that without Ignatius there would have been no Society of Jesus.

The book's logical structure helps O'Malley support his thesis. A fusion of narrative and thematic exploration, the first half of the book examines how the Jesuits pursued the responsibilities they assigned to themselves as their consueta ministeria, or "customary ministries.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By queenregent on July 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everything you ever needed to know about the history of the Society of Jesus. Well-researched and covering both the broad and specific, the book is the perfect starting point for learning about the order that has a presence in nearly every corner of the world.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dianne G. on June 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful Story about the beginnings of the Jesuit order. I purchased this as a replacement for one and am quite happy to have it in my library. Well written and I will read it over again.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Domenicus on November 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Deep appreciation of one of the most influential religious order of the Early Modern Times
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