Cover image for The Catholic Church : a short history
Title:
The Catholic Church : a short history
Author:
Küng, Hans, 1928-
Personal Author:
Edition:
Modern Library edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Modern Library, 2001.
Physical Description:
xxv, 221 pages ; 20 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Language:
English
Corporate Subject:
ISBN:
9780679640929
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Presents the history of the Roman Catholic Church from its origins to the present, discussing the role of the Pope, the schisms that split the Church, and its role in the twenty-first century.


Author Notes

Hans Kung is Swiss and was born into a middle-class family. He studied in Rome for seven years, obtaining his licentiate in philosophy and theology from the Gregorian University there, and then receiving his doctorate in theology from the Catholic Institute in Paris. Since 1960 he has been a professor at Tubingen University, where he taught dogmatic and ecumenical theology until his permission to teach Catholic theology was removed as a consequence of statements judged to be contrary to official doctrine. Since 1980 he has taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan, and occasionally in Europe as well.

His difficulties with the church began with the publication The Church (1967) and became very hot with the publication of Infallible? An Inquiry (1971). More recently, his On Being Christian (1977) has raised the question of whether his theology is not simply rational Protestant theology of the turn of the century. Official inquiries were held, statements were exchanged between Kung and the Conference of German Bishops, and the Rome-based Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but no agreement was to be had. Kung continues to declare himself a loyal member of the Roman Catholic church and seems unlikely to leave its priesthood or to be excommunicated.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The latest volume in the Modern Library Chronicles series looks at the history of the world's largest Christian body through the eyes of a theologian whom most Catholics regard as either a beloved reformer or an annoying dissident. King, a Swiss priest, was disciplined by the church in 1979 and prohibited from teaching as a Catholic theologian. Through a 1980 agreement with the Vatican, he is now permitted to teach, but only under secular auspices. In his compressed history of the church that traces its roots to Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter, King continues to ply his trade in controversy. Woven through his mostly readable account is a consistent call for the abolition of the doctrine of papal infallibility, one of the stances that got him into trouble with church authorities two decades ago. King also uses his book to criticize the church's present efforts to safeguard its teachings through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. His 1979 censure, he says, was a "personal experience of the Inquisition," yet he claims to remain faithful to the church in what he calls "critical loyalty." In concluding statements about the future, Kng says the church must open all ministries to women (although the current pope has quashed discussion of women's ordination) and be more open ecumenically. Church progressives will warmly embrace King's version of Catholic history, which is sure to be dismissed by loyalists. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

King is a Catholic priest and eminent theologian whose doctoral dissertation in 1957 on Karl Barth opened new vistas for ecumenical discussion. From 1962 through 1965, he served as a theological expert at Vatican Council II; since then, his books and articles have presented theological reflections of an unswervingly loyal if not always uncritical Catholic. Because of his stand on a number of hot-button issues, the Holy See removed King's license to teach in the Catholic theology faculty at Tbingen in 1979. He continued to teach at Tibingen, but as part of the general university faculty. In this, his latest book, King presents a summary of the major persons and movements that have formed the Catholic Church from its beginnings to the present. He uses the Church's history to devise four conditions, which need to be met if the Catholic Church is to have a future in the third millennium. This is a remarkable book, despite its less than elegant translation. Recommended for pubic and academic libraries. David I. Fulton, Coll. of St. Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Hans Kung is an important figure in recent Roman Catholic life. His "short history" of the church is well written and informative for anyone interested in a clear, basic overview of 2000 years of that history and therefore merits serious attention. In the introduction, he lays out the different forms such a history can take in avoiding two extremes: one, "a criminal history of Christianity" that becomes "uninspired, unexciting and boring"; and the other, an "idealizing and romanticized history of the church." Kung's work is certainly not the latter, but a judgment on how close it comes to the former will depend on what side of the spectrum one falls in the Catholic Church's current so-called progressive/conservative tensions: the cliche about seeing a glass half empty or half full comes to mind. No one will deny that many wrong and evil things have been done by Christians over the centuries, but not everyone will agree that they should be judged and the current church transformed mainly by today's cultural attitudes and structures, themselves conditioned by time and space. An easy read with many challenges for upper-division undergraduates through faculty and researchers, plus general readers. R. W. Rousseau University of Scranton


Excerpts

Excerpts

As the author of The Catholic Church: A Short History , I want to say quite openly, right at the beginning, that despite all my experiences of how merciless the Roman system can be, the Catholic Church, this fellowship of believers, has remained my spiritual home to the present day. That has consequences for this book. Of course, the history of the Catholic Church can also be told in a different way. A neutral description of it can be given by experts in religion or historians who are not personally involved in this history. Or it can be described by a hermeneutical philosopher or theologian, concerned with understanding, for whom to understand everything is also to forgive everything. However, I have written this history as someone who is involved in it. I can understand phenomena like intellectual repression and the Inquisition, the burning of witches, the persecution of Jews, and discrimination against women from the historical context, but that does not mean that I can therefore forgive them in any way. I write as one who takes the side of those who became victims or already in their time recognized and censured particular church practices as being un-Christian. To be quite specific and quite personal, I write as one who was born into a Catholic family, in the little Swiss Catholic town of Sursee, and who went to school in the Catholic city of Lucerne. I then lived for seven whole years in Rome in the elite papal Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum and studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. When I was ordained priest I celebrated the Eucharist for the first time in St. Peter's and gave my first sermon to a congregation of Swiss Guards. After gaining my doctorate in theology at the Institut Catholique in Paris, I worked for two years as a pastor in Lucerne. Then, in 1960, at the age of thirty-two, I became professor of Catholic theology at the University of Tiibingen. I took part in the Second Vatican Council, between 1962 and 1965, as an expert nominated by John XXIII, taught in Tiibingen for two decades, and founded the Institute for Ecumenical Research, of which I was director. In 1979 1 then had personal experience of the Inquisition under another pope. My permission to teach was withdrawn by the church, but nevertheless I retained my chair and my institute (which was separated from the Catholic faculty). For two further decades I remained unswervingly faithful to my church in critical loyalty, and to the present day I have remained professor of ecumenical theology and a Catholic priest in good standing. I affirm the papacy for the Catholic Church, but at the same time indefatigably call for a radical reform of it in accordance with the criterion of the gospel. With a history and a Catholic past like this, should I not be capable of writing a history of the Catholic Church which is both committed and objective? Perhaps it could prove even more exciting to hear the story of this church from an insider who has been involved in such a way. Of course, I shall be just as concerned to be objective as any neutral person (if there really are such people in matters of religion). However, I am convinced that personal commitment and matter-of-fact objectivity can as well be combined in a history of the church as they can in the history of a nation. Excerpted from The Catholic Church: A Short History by Hans Kung All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

As the author of The Catholic Church: A Short History , I want to say quite openly, right at the beginning, that despite all my experiences of how merciless the Roman system can be, the Catholic Church, this fellowship of believers, has remained my spiritual home to the present day.
That has consequences for this book. Of course, the history of the Catholic Church can also be told in a different way. A neutral description of it can be given by experts in religion or historians who are not personally involved in this history. Or it can be described by a hermeneutical philosopher or theologian, concerned with understanding, for whom to understand everything is also to forgive everything. However, I have written this history as someone who is involved in it. I can understand phenomena like intellectual repression and the Inquisition, the burning of witches, the persecution of Jews, and discrimination against women from the historical context, but that does not mean that I can therefore forgive them in any way. I write as one who takes the side of those who became victims or already in their time recognized and censured particular church practices as being un-Christian.
To be quite specific and quite personal, I write as one who was born into a Catholic family, in the little Swiss Catholic town of Sursee, and who went to school in the Catholic city of Lucerne.
I then lived for seven whole years in Rome in the elite papal Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum and studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. When I was ordained priest I celebrated the Eucharist for the first time in St. Peter's and gave my first sermon to a congregation of Swiss Guards.
After gaining my doctorate in theology at the Institut Catholique in Paris, I worked for two years as a pastor in Lucerne. Then, in 1960, at the age of thirty-two, I became professor of Catholic theology at the University of Tiibingen.
I took part in the Second Vatican Council, between 1962 and 1965, as an expert nominated by John XXIII, taught in Tiibingen for two decades, and founded the Institute for Ecumenical Research, of which I was director.
In 1979 1 then had personal experience of the Inquisition under another pope. My permission to teach was withdrawn by the church, but nevertheless I retained my chair and my institute (which was separated from the Catholic faculty).
For two further decades I remained unswervingly faithful to my church in critical loyalty, and to the present day I have remained professor of ecumenical theology and a Catholic priest in good standing.
I affirm the papacy for the Catholic Church, but at the same time indefatigably call for a radical reform of it in accordance with the criterion of the gospel.
With a history and a Catholic past like this, should I not be capable of writing a history of the Catholic Church which is both committed and objective? Perhaps it could prove even more exciting to hear the story of this church from an insider who has been involved in such a way. Of course, I shall be just as concerned to be objective as any neutral person (if there really are such people in matters of religion). However, I am convinced that personal commitment and matter-of-fact objectivity can as well be combined in a history of the church as they can in the history of a nation.
From the Hardcover edition.

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