More than a billion Roman Catholics throughout the world today look to the pope for guidance and leadership. Despite the papacy's enormous influence, how much do you really know about this ancient and powerful institution?
Catholics and non-Catholics alike will enjoy these 24 illuminating lectures about this remarkable institution. Professor Noble gives you priceless insights into the dramatic history of the papal office and the lives of the men who represented it.
You'll follow four critical strands of papal history over 2,000 years: the history of the "Petrine" idea; the history of an institution; the history of popes and antipopes; the history of Western civilization; and you'll look inside the Vatican's doors and discover fresh views on the institution's people, ideas, traditions, and routines, as well as the important roles played by organizations like the Curia and the Secretariat of State. You'll investigate the mechanisms by which the church not only ministers to its worldwide flock but also deals with the practical realities of its administration.
Filled with interesting stories and remarkable insights, this course promises to educate, enlighten, and entertain you.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses
As always Dr. Noble presents an excellent series of lectures. In this series he covers a large period of history and navigates the interesting and sometimes convoluted world of the Papacy. He does it with his usual skill and humor. He is able to make difficult topics understandable for the average person. This series is highly recommended for anyone interested in one of the most important and interesting subjects in Western History.
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First, the positive:
Professor Noble is an engaging lecturer and clear cares and knows a lot about his subject. I order this lecture hoping for a more biographical approach to the different popes. However, this series is more about the politics, structure, history and form of the papacy. Even the the subject is more more complicated than I expected, I continued through the series, carried on the professors enthusiasm. I learned quite a bit, and even though I was a novice to the subject, I didn't feel the subject was presented above my head.
For the less negative:
The main problem I had with the lecture was that the professor approaches his subject from a very apologetic point of view. He is sympathetic to the pope's point of view and will relate good intentions to popes throughout history without evidence. He also somewhat glosses over the more corrupt history of certain popes, though to his credit, he does not ignore them entirely.
I find the morally challenging aspects of history to be the most interesting, so in this way, I was disappointed. However, my main goal of listening to this lecture was to learn more about Catholic history, which I can say I did.
I think when he discussed the move to Avignon.
His lecture skills are truly amazing. The way Dr. Noble was able to take a large amount of content and explain in a way that was educational, informative and very very interesting. I've listened and been at many lectures and he is easily the best I have ever heard.
I think the Henry VIII Fiasco with trying to legitimatize a male heir was very entertaining.
A learner, talker, and teacher.
Fascinating, engaging, impressive
Innocent III, because he represented the zenith of the papacy's influence on faith, politics, and culture.
A broad perspective that doesn't get bogged down in the too-fine details, but rather keeps an eye on the overall themes and trajectory of the papacy's influence and reaction to developing Western Civilization.
His even-handed description of the Second Vatican Council, which has had the most impact on the Catholic Church in the 20th and 21st centuries.
This was my first Great Courses presentation, and I will most certainly be going back for more!
I found this an excellent survey of the papacy and helped in placing popes in their historical context
He has an easy to listen to style.
This course is more about the papacy as an institution, and how it evolved and effected the world and political climate about it then it is about individual popes. It does mention specific individuals, of course, but when it does, it's usually just limited to how they affected the office and the church. As others have mentioned, it heavily leans towards the apologetic side, glossing over anything negative and quickly pointed out and emphasizing the positives of even the most corrupt popes.
It does ended with Pope Benedict, before he retired, and it is rather amusing to hear the professor attempt make several predictions about the directions the said Pope might take.
Servant of the poor
Yes. It offered a good history of the Papacy with an incredible amount of detail on many of the Popes. It also engaged the listener in areas of theology and church history.
A great presentation by an enthusiastic teacher. I was hoping for a neutral, scholarly perspective and was encouraged in the beginning when he raised the fact that there are questions of whether or not Peter was ever in Rome, let alone be its first bishop. But he seemed to become more and more of a "company man" as the teaching progressed. He kind of lost me when he tried to suggest that the Roman Catholic Church was not wealthy. He even suggested that the artwork was nothing the church would ever sell. I wanted to talk back to him and ask him one question: "What about all the real estate it owns around the world?" But don't let that deter you from listening to him. He does a great job even if his bias becomes very clear as time goes on in his teaching.
Some tidbits and revelations of the various eras and some of the individuals who served as Pope (or anti-pope) make this somewhat interesting.
A good intro to Popes and the papacy.
Had a clear plan, explained it to the listeners, and followed it. A simple chronology works, but it could have worked far better.
Not sufficient detail on major issues, controversies, key players. This course could have served as the intro to a multi-part series of courses.
I have read many of the Great Courses and will read a lot more. I will not buy any more from Professor Noble
No. All of the other courses have been well researched and the topics presented with a minimum of bias. Since these are books about religions and their history, it is really important that they be presented that way.
His voice is a bit irritating and his attempts at humour fall somewhat flat.
Nothing to cut. Just a little less of a Roman Catholic bias, particularly when dealing with the 20th century and 21st century popes. If he can't have a good historians perspective for those popes that are in his lifetime, he should not have included them in this lecture series.
His handling of the early and Medieval popes was pretty good and seemed to be backed up by historical and archaeological evidence. However, he glossed over the anti-Semitism and seemed to want to highlight the accomplishments of some of the more corrupt popes (e.g Alexander the Sixth) while down-playing their crimes. With regards to the modern popes and the Catholic Church, he made only one passing reference to the paedophilia of priests and no reference to the lack of response form John Paul II or Benedict XVI to this issue. While condemning the critics of Pius XII, he seems oblivious to the idea perhaps that Pope Pius should have been more concerned with the plight of the Jews. Gypsies and Poles than in the welfare of the Catholic Church. He does even raise an eyebrow at the idea that Jesuits releasing portions of the Vatican records does not constitute a real investigation. It is possible that Pope Pius did nothing wrong, but to dismiss it outright I think, is to ignore legitimate concerns about his role in enabling the Nazis. I would prefer that the Great Courses have found someone not associated with a Jesuit University to cover this material.
I really was curious to learn about the early years of the church, but that didn't happen. Fortunately, I have a reference book "The Popes: Histories and Secrets"by Claudio Rendina. I had to read 250 pages of that book to supplement how this professor glossed over the first 1,000 years of this course. I wanted to know about priestly celibacy, non-existant role of women, etc. He covered the first millelium in a lecture and half; whereas he talked about the popes in my lifetime (68 years) in the last 5 lectures. Very disappointing.
Don't tell me what I already lived through.
As a professor from Notre Dame, I guess he has to speak glowingly about the recent popes and gloss over the early dissention and in-fighting.
Very disappointing; however, I'm sure devout Catholics would like it. This is not history; it's propaganda.
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