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Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present (Theology) Paperback – June 1, 1996

4.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

From the Back Cover

Has the papal office always been what it now is, and will it always be the same as it is today? In this, the first complete history of papal primacy, Klaus Schatz traces the development of the idea of a papacy as center of teaching and jurisdiction from its earliest Roman beginnings, through centuries of development, the great papal schism and the struggles over conciliarism and Gallicanism, to the triumph of papal authority at Vatican I and beyond that to Vatican II. Papal primacy has grown with the Church, and it remains a reality embedded in the Church as a living community begins to change.
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Product Details

  • Series: Theology
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Glazier (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081465522X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814655221
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By I. J. Lindgren on July 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
I strongly recommend Klaus Schatz "Papal Primacy" for any who want balanced overview of the history of primacy in the papacy. While maintaining the validity of Catholicism's current perception of the papacy, Schatz attempts to mark out the road that lead to this understanding with honesty and impartiality towards its adversaries. Of additional value are the extensive footnotes Schatz uses to document his account. These are useful in their own right for any interested in doing further research into the foundational primary and secondary texts.

Briefly, he organizes the primacy history around the theme of a central concept of raw and largely undefined initial primacy that then goes through subsequent historical interpretations, including the conversion of aristocratic Rome, the Germanic migration into Europe, Feudalism, the rise of absolute monarchism, and then the enlightenment and modernity, each with its own perception of what that primacy meant. Through this churning kaleidoscope of historical context, he records the contests the papacy had for supremacy in the Church with the Roman empire, other episcopal sees in both the East and West, Western European kingdoms and conciliarism, with the culmination of its victory over these various forces in Vatican I.

Vatican II is viewed very much as a work in progress, and with its integration with Vatican I still in doubt, Klaus ends with a note of caution that its efforts to rebalance Catholic ecclesiology with greater collegiality and a communio based ecclesiology are in danger of being perceived in opposition to Vatican I with a renewal the sorts of contests that ultimately rejected Gallicanism in favor of Ultramontanism.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very worthwhile book, and does much to explain the development of papal primacy over the centuries. Schatz is well-balanced; he doesn't flinch from episodes in history that call into question this doctrine, nor does he hesitate to show where it was clearly exercised in the past.

Some who are orthodox Catholics may object to this book, as it admits that papal primacy has developed, and is not practiced today exactly like it was practiced in the early Church. But Schatz is simply relating the true story, in all it's fullness. I consider myself a faithful and orthodox Catholic, and I think this book should be required reading for anyone - Catholic or non-Catholic - who wishes to understand this often-misunderstood doctrine.
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Klaus Schatz's "Papal Primacy: From its Origins to the Present" focuses on and integrates the history of the specific issue of the claim of the bishop of Rome to primacy within the Christian church. Schatz' work is truly "catholic" in its chronology, starting with the texts of the Gospels and then working its way through the early church, the imperial church, the medieval church to Vatican I and Vatican II. For people like myself who have read the history of the papal claims "episodically," i.e., in the context of individual historical periods or papal reigns, the virtue of this book is in connecting the dots or showing the picture that the puzzle pieces are forming.

For example, Schatz confirms that one of the historical facts that tended to support the Roman church's claim to having some kind of charisma in relation to the teaching of orthodoxy was that time after time the Roman church simply ended up on the "right" side of theological disputes. On Arianism, Monothelitism, Monophysitism, the dating of Easter and other issues, the side that the Roman church ultimately prevailed. Schatz observes:

"Nonetheless, there is no avoiding the question: How is it that in fact Rome always took the right side from the very beginning, even though it by no means had the better theologians or the better theology? The better theologians were in the Greek-speaking East or, as far as the Latin regions are concerned in North Africa from the third century onward."

And, yet, Rome's history of common sense seemed to speak to something about the Roman claim to some kind of pre-eminence as the city where Peter and Paul had died.
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Format: Paperback
Schatz brings a refreshing work of outstanding historical scholarship and theological analysis on the development of the primacy, unlike his North American counterparts. He assumes a Catholic readership and a basic background of patristics and church history. He avoids the common historical pitfalls that are typical of current polemical discussions, where even Catholic apologists sometimes hastily introduce modern concepts into the early developments of the Church. Rather, he asks how the standards for Church unity were established and what the significance of the Roman church was in that context?
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If you want a history of the development of the papacy into what it is today, you can't do much better than "Papal Primacy" by Klaus Schatz. The author says in just under 200 pages what it would take a lesser writer more than 500.

The origins of papal primacy, as everyone knows it today, lay in the prestige given to the church of Rome in the early church. It was the seat of the Empire and was where Peter and Paul were martyred. Irenaeus in the 2nd century, writing against the Gnostics' claims to secret traditions, appealed to the public traditions of the Episcoplal office, specifically apostolic succession, and lists Rome as a prime example. Beginning in the second half of the fourth century there was a remarkable development of the concept of primacy, especially under Popes Damasus (366-384), Siricius (384-399), Innocent I (402-417), and above all Leo I, the Great (440-461), the initial high point of the papacy in Christian antiquity. The title `pope' itself first appears in the fourth century, initially for a number of individual bishops including the bishop of Alexandria; it has been reserved for the bishop of Rome since the fifth century. This development was characterized in the first place by the concentration of the general complex of ideas surrounding the Roman church, based on the special reverence reserved for Peter and Paul, and now extended along one specific line, namely the Petrine succession of the Roman bishops. This first appeared in the mid-third century with Stephen, but now it became the central and directing idea in the concept of primacy. In the pope, Peter himself is present; indeed Peter lives on in him.
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