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Publisher's Summary

How did the Catholic Church become one of the most influential institutions in the world - a force capable of moving armies, inspiring saints, and shaping the lives of a billion members?
Explore these and other questions as you follow the development of this important institution in 36 informative, fascinating lectures. With Professor Cook by your side, you'll step into the world of the early church, witness the spread of Christendom, and learn about the origins of fundamental church institutions.
Your journey begins in the early years of the church, when Jesus's disciples developed the first communities of faith. You'll get a chance to delve into crucial ancient church documents and gain an intriguing glimpse into the lives of these early believers. From there, you'll trace the development and spread of this nascent religion throughout the world, covering crucial developments including the conversion of the Roman Empire to Catholicism, the schism between the Roman faith and the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Reformation.
As you delve into this fascinating saga, you'll quickly see that the Catholic Church actually takes many forms. You'll trace the many variations of worship and belief that evolved as Christianity spread all over the Mediterranean, and you'll witness how Catholic practice and faith have been transformed by the cultures and peoples it has touched. Professor Cook brings an unparalleled intellectual rigor to his presentation, balanced by a deep appreciation of the church's legacy and impact. Join him on this epic journey through Catholic history, and experience how this small gathering of faithful became one of the most powerful forces on the world stage - the "one holy catholic and apostolic Church."
©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By P. Johnson on 01-21-14

Thorough history presented in a compelling manner

Would you consider the audio edition of The Catholic Church: A History to be better than the print version?

As a college level course, the material presented is both thorough and interesting. I am on my second listening of the course because there is just such a wealth of information provided.

What other book might you compare The Catholic Church: A History to and why?

I love Father Robert Barron's Catholicism series and this course was a great addition to the material Father Barron presented. Obviously this course is a history while Barron's is not intended to be. Professor Cook was able to explain a lot of the "why" behind the evolution of the church while Father Barron continually showed its beauty. For those who really want to know about the Catholic church, this is a great asset.

Have you listened to any of Professor William R. Cook’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have watched and listened to Professor Cook's course on The Great Cathedrals. He is a compelling and enthusiastic lecturer who presents material in a straight forward manner. I thought this course was quite good as an audiobook, while the course on cathedrals obviously needed the visual information. I plan on purchasing other courses by Dr. Cook.

Any additional comments?

One need not be Catholic to enjoy this thorough history. Professor Cook knows his material and presents it in an enthusiastic and compelling manner.

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17 of 18 people found this review helpful


By vicki on 07-16-15

Great job

As a catholic who knows their history, it was great to see a truthful look at our faith and church. Great job

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Joe on 06-09-15

Comprehensive and informative

I really enjoyed this product but professor cook's insistence on saying that Saint John paul ii apologised for the crusades in the last few lectures bugged me a little, he apologised to God on the 2000 year of the church for anything members of the church might have done wrong in her history he didn't specifically mention any event person or crime in particular, at least that was my understanding of it. Having said that I recommend this lecture course it covers everything but I'd read some other stuff on the crusades

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By Ibrahim955 on 04-05-16

Very good book

If you could sum up The Catholic Church: A History in three words, what would they be?

Although it says history, it is not presented in the traditional chronological way. Many times the author chose a topic and returned in time to give meaning to the history of that topic.

What other book might you compare The Catholic Church: A History to, and why?

If I compare this book to the book: Beginnings of Judaism, both take the same way of narrating and analyzing history, but I liked the Catholic Church History book more.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The chapters on the early martyrs and saints, and on the various orders that supported the church in the 16th/17th century were excellent and moving.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Amazon Customer on 02-13-16

Fascinating and well presented

What a fascinating and well presented set of lectures. I loved learning more about history/church history/Catholic church history.. The professor is a lively and engaging presenter. Thanks

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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