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A Concise History of the Catholic Church

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  344 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Expanded and updated for the new millennium.

Covering the life of Christ, the election of Pope Benedict XVI, and everything in between, A Concise History of the Catholic Church has been one of the bestselling religious histories of the past two decades and a mainstay for scholars, students, and others looking for a definitive, accessible history of Catholicism. With a clari
Paperback, 605 pages
Published August 16th 2005 by Image (first published 1977)
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Aug 16, 2007 Jason added it
At first glance, you may think this book large, cumbersome and too heavy a read for the Summer or any other time of the year, but I found it strikingly readable and highly informative.

The author, Thomas Bokenotter, lays out the history of the church from the death of Christ all the way to the election of Pope Benedict XVI. This is not so much a complete history, and as Bokenotter freely admits, it's been criticized at times for not lambasting the church for certain transgressions in it's long an
Doreen Petersen
Apr 07, 2017 Doreen Petersen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Thoroughly enjoyed this one! Great book to read if you're Catholic and if you're not it never hurts to understand what others believe.
Thomas Paul
Aug 08, 2013 Thomas Paul rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Nov 08, 2007 Jamie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Well... this contained some history of the Church, but I would hardly call it "concise". It was "short", in that the Catholic Church has a history spanning nearly 2,000 years, but that is not the full definition of "concise": it also needs to be somewhat comprehensive, all-encompassing. It fails on this count.

It gives details about a few people (whole chapters on St. Jerome and St. Augustine) while giving the short shrift to others (Aquinas and Albert are lumped into "The Aristotelian Invasion")
Feb 13, 2008 Abraham rated it it was amazing
a must have for any Roman Catholic that wishes to know how the faith historically came to be.
May 22, 2008 Becca rated it it was ok
The Catholic church has influenced so much of our world's history that I thought I would learn more about it. I carefully searched to try and get a history that wasn't written by someone who was against the catholic church. This book was apparently written as a textbook to be used in college classes teaching Catholics about the history of their own church.

Because the book was written for Catholics, and I am not a Catholic, I had to decipher a lot of terminology and learn about a lot of Catholic
Rebecca The Files of Mrs. E,
This book covers a huge amount of history in a concise yet detailed manner. It was rather thorough and often shared differing points of view. I was bothered by the fact that Protestants Martin Luther and John Calvin had longer sections (each an entire chapter) devoted to them then anyone else in the book. It also bothered me that it never really acknowledged the spiritual component of the church. The author would describe politics involved in situations but would never acknowledge that Catholics ...more
Jun 22, 2009 Emily rated it did not like it
This book is both extremely dull and appallingly biased. Bokenkotter has no knack for historical narrative and the text is uninteresting even by the low standards of college textbooks. He also has gone so far off the deep end in defending the Catholic Church that the book bears no traces of objectivity. Missionary practices in the new world and Africa are covered as heroic triumphs over savagery. The pedophilia scandal is covered in depth, only so that Bokenkotter can inform the reader that the ...more
Dr.  Toxic
Feb 20, 2008 Dr. Toxic rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this when I first got my CDL and drove End Dump Truck for the City of Minneapolis to do some bad weather clean up.
I got paid 18 dollars/hour to read this over a week. It was worth it. It did nothing to convince me that the Catholic Church is anything but a cult based on tradition, guilt and most importantly blind faith.
Feb 14, 2010 Marc rated it did not like it
Fairly ill-informed, agenda-driven work trying to disguise itself as an introductory work for beginners, which is why beginners should be steered clear of this thing.
Sep 13, 2012 Anthony rated it liked it
A Concise History of the Catholic Church by Thomas S. Bokenkotter

A review by Anthony T. Riggio
October 4, 2012

I ordered this book from Amazon after reading "Christianity, the First Three Thousand Years" by Diarmaid MacCulloch (an Anglican Scholar). It was an interesting book which I rated on Amazon with some interest in understanding Christianity from a "secular" point of view and while I did not write a long analysis of my thoughts on this book, my Amazon and Goodreads show the following: "Good
Dec 07, 2014 Mel rated it liked it
This book provides an accessible and fascinating insight into 2000 years of Church history, a herculean achievement. Some might grumble that he spent too little time on the Crusades and the Islamic conquest of North Africa and maybe too much time of the American experience of Catholicism, but I believe in order to write a relatively concise history, there would be inevitably some choices that are disputable. I found he was even handed in his treatment of the early Church's blindspots, such as, i ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Walter rated it liked it
If you are looking for a good history of the Catholic Church, there are several multi-volume approaches to the subject that are worth reading. This one is an attempt to distill 2,000 years of Church history in one volume, which turns out to be neither concise or comprehensive. Add to that the limitation that Fr. Bokenkotter tries to oversimplify very complicated theological issues into terms that non-theologians can understand, but he ends up just oversimplifying. He also spends an inordinate am ...more
Chaffee Viets
Jan 31, 2011 Chaffee Viets rated it really liked it
On the whole, a balanced treatment of the Church, especially given that Bokenkotter is a priest and might be expected to sweep the dirty laundry under the carpet, so-to-speak. He is very open at acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of the Roman Catholic Church, although would have liked him to be more explicit about the nature of human vs. institutional fallibility. According to Catholic doctrine, members of the Church, including the Pope, are sinful, but the Church as an institution is no ...more
Erik Knutila
Jan 31, 2008 Erik Knutila rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Catholics, Those interested in Western orReligious History
Shelves: non-fiction
Well - I found the first half of the book extremely interesting (the struggles between monarchs and the popes, between popes, between churches (Lutheran, Calvinism, Eastern Orthodox). I found MOST of the second half much slower as it was more about stuggles of interpretations of various theologies within the church. While important, it's hard to make those interesting without providing fuller explanations which is hard to do in a 430 page book that covers 2000 years. The last few chapters are in ...more
Feb 06, 2014 Nigel rated it it was ok
Although I've finished this concise? history, I won't be removing it from the side of my bed as I have found it an invaluable mine of information. Most sensible people of the 21st century accept the bible as nonsense, but it is extremely gratifying to see an acceptance of this through the writings of a theist. (I believe I've read somewhere that mr Bokenkotter is, in fact, father Bokenkotter, apologies if I'm wrong.)
His use of the phrases "we believe" and " it is generally accepted" when refere
Nov 07, 2014 Pamela rated it it was ok
It is difficult to call this either "Concise" or a "History" of the Catholic Church. Admittedly, the challenge would be significant condensing 2000 years of history into these few pages. This is more a part history and part the evolution of theological thought in the church over the centuries. Many important points in history are reduced to a single sentence while other points are allocated an entire chapter. A limitation of reading much into the final few chapters is that it is written in the y ...more
Dec 18, 2011 Chibineko rated it it was ok
Shelves: school-read
If you're looking for information, then you'll find it here. If you want to be entertained, well... unless you're into the more dry material, this will probably be a little overly wordy for you. It's chock full of information and good for anyone studying religion, but the average Joe or Jane off the street probably will want to stick to a lighter read.

The good thing about this book is that every once in a while you'll get passages that will draw you in and keep you entertained. The book is writt
Nov 09, 2012 IOSEPHVS BIBLIOTHECARIVS rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
An excellent history up to the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965 and its aftermath (first 75% of the book). Thereafter it goes downhill (final 25%). Readers should know that this book was first published in 1977. New editions with added material were released in 1979, 1990, 2004, and 2005. Unfortunately, the new material was simply tacked on to the old with apparently no effort to update the language, verb tenses, etc. in the older text to reflect the fact that time had passed between th ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Richard rated it liked it
Told from the perspective of somebody sympathetic to the Church, this provides a nice counter-point to many of the historical arguments against Catholicism and is well worthwhile for that reason.

On the other hand, the writing regularly crosses the line from biography to hagiography, with many characters introduced as "bold" or "working tirelessly". If an editor had toned down the superlatives, the rest of the book may have been more believably objective.
Mar 28, 2011 Meg rated it it was ok
Although very dry reading - I found this to be an informative overview of the history of the Catholic Church and more recent controversies. Sometimes the chapters were a struggle to get to - and at the end, especially topics seemed to be presented in a jumble, as if the author were just throwing whatever new idea came his way into the book with subtitles to make sure everything got covered.
Sep 16, 2010 Kristin rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-politics
The author did quite good work examining 2000 years of history in an accessible way in less than 600 pages. I appreciated Bokenkotter's honesty about many of the dark times in Church history, although a few of the major ones were somewhat skimmed over. I learned a lot about the past of my Church, and could see clear connections between that history and our present.
Aug 20, 2012 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone interested in an informative and very readable overview of the Catholic Church this book is certainly worth the read. Needless to say, few of the stages in the churches history are dealt in great detail as it has to cover 2000 years of History in 400 odd pages. As a Catholic he provides an interesting slant on the whole story and covers it all nicely.
David Eppenstein
A really good history of the Church that will make you wonder how this organization managed to survive for over 2000 years. Also you will discover that nobody beats making mountains out of molehills like a theologian.
Patti Clement
This book was one of my textbooks for my Catechesis and Theology course. It was so interesting for me to finally be able to connect some of the dots in my own mind about church history. I plan to go back and reread sections in a more leisurely fashion.
Oct 29, 2012 Zjjohnston rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Not exactly a page-turner, but I did learn a lot. It was good to see the history of the church in one long span. The later chapters about Vatican II and Pope John Paul II were especially interesting.
One of my friends (who is getting his masters in theology from a Jesuit university) recommended this book when I told him I didn't have a good understanding of the Catholic church. At 500+ pages, I doubt how "concise" it is, but so far I've enjoyed it.
Jul 03, 2010 Wanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
Excellent history book. Not too detailed, but yet gives a good coverage. Its a book you have to read a few pages and let it sink in before moving on, because it has so many facts in it.
Oct 26, 2012 Bill rated it liked it
Reading this one for school, not for fun.
Jul 14, 2016 Manu rated it liked it
A real help to anyone who wants know about the church and the guiding of the Holy Spirit in its History....
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