- Hardcover: 576 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books (February 24, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780465011957
- ISBN-13: 978-0465011957
- ASIN: 0465011950
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,075,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Keepers of the Keys of Heaven: A History of the Papacy Hardcover – February 24, 2009
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“Keepers of the Keys of Heaven is an immensely readable treatment of one of the world’s most important institutions. Few historians write as engagingly and wittily as Roger Collins. There is not a dull word in this spectacular triumph of accessible scholarship.”
“Drawing on Vatican archives, accounts from papal ambassadors, spies and historians, the character and policies of the popes, from the obscure to the celebrated, are explained. Collins also addresses the crisis of the Reformation and current debates on the future of the Church, and presents an objective, revealing account of the impact and growth of the pope’s power.”
“The book is a good read; its prose is vigorous and limpid. [Collins] has a good eye for some types of narrative detail, such as delightful factoids of papal history, the ins and outs of papal elections and the maneuverings of cardinals.”
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A solid introduction to a very broad topic. Well done. For a good followup to this work, we would also recommend Popes and the Papacy: A History (Great Courses The Teaching Company).
Before even starting to read this book;be sure you are aware of "The List Of Popes" ,starting on page 499.It lists all the popes and and Antipopes from the beginning to the present,including their dates.Because of the long time period and individuals covered ,this history is very complicated and convoluted;thus this "list" is very helpful in sorting things out.
The thing that makes the history of the Papacy so complicated is that the Papacy has not existed in isolation ;but has always been intimately connected and affected by what has taken place around it.First of all, there are all the aspects of faith and religion and how man has tried to understand and impliment the teachings of Christ and Christianity.Then there are all the other religions that have existed ,either peacefully alongside Christianity,or in opposition to it.Then there are the various factions and interpretations that have taken place and even caused great schisms.Then ,above all that,Christianity has had to deal with all the weaknesses and strengths of man and how that has impacted Christianity and the Papacy for over 2000 years.
As if the religious aspects were not enough,governments,monarchies,tyrants,dictators,politics,ideologies,wars,pandamics,famines,and every other part of society has impacted on the Papacy.
Because of all this,it is very difficult to understand the history of the Papacy,without also understanding the historical events that took place during the time.Naturally,as one reads this book,things are often very sketchy;but it would take countless volumes to understand or outline all the whys and wherefores of what happened at any time.
The author tries to stick with the facts and does not appear to be prejudiced in his ideas as he writes this history.
I guess the thing that came across most clearly to me in reading the history of the Papacy is how it managed to endure all the forces that it has been subjected to and still managed to survive to the present time. In spite of everything,and the changes that have taken place in western civilization;the Papacy is probably in as great shape today,as at any time in its long history.
In other words,after all the wars,religious and otherwise,empires that have developed,became all powerful and disappeared,great monarchies that have come and gone,religious sects that have come and gone,social and economic societies and systems that have come and gone,countries that have come and gone---yet, The Papacy ,with all its problems,all of which have been man made,has endured through it all.
"Learn how to be a policeman,because that cannot be improvised.As regards being pope,you will see later.Anybody can be pope;the proof of this is that I have become one." Letter to a young boy. From Wit and Wisdom of Good Pope John XXIII
My only quibble is that, at times, the book wanders back and forth about certain popes and events, and that can get a bit disconcerting. Other than that, I found this book very interesting and informative, and would recommend it to anyone interested in church history, and the men in charge.