• 2,000 Years of Papal History: The History of the Popes, the Papacy, and the Catholic Church

  • By: John W. O'Malley
  • Narrated by: John W. O'Malley
  • Length: 14 hrs and 28 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (100 ratings)
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2,000 Years of Papal History: The History of the Popes, the Papacy, and the Catholic Church  By  cover art

2,000 Years of Papal History: The History of the Popes, the Papacy, and the Catholic Church

By: John W. O'Malley
Narrated by: John W. O'Malley
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Publisher's summary

Internationally best-selling author, renowned professor, and the dean of American Catholic Historians, Fr. John O’Malley presents his monumental course on the papacy. This masterpiece series covers the most fascinating history in the Western world. Now, you can trace the amazing history of the papacy, the oldest still-functioning institution of any kind in the Western world in 36 erudite lectures. 

By focusing on popes who shaped vital moments in global history, you will gain a deep understanding of the people, issues, and ideas that gave us the Catholic church and our world. 

The story features both trouble and triumph - and Fr. O'Malley deftly tackles both aspects - but above all, it tells of resilience. You will be enthralled as you listen to Fr. O'Malley explaining how pope after pope responded to challenges from barbarians, "Christian" monarchs, disgruntled bishops, and, above all, the faults and failures of human nature in order to guide Peter's bark through the rugged seas of time.

This course is part of the Learn25 collection and includes a free PDF study guide.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2006 Now You Know Media Inc. (P)2006 Now You Know Media Inc.

Critic reviews

“John W. O'Malley, S.J., is not only the dean of American Catholic historians, he is also one of the church's greatest and most accomplished teachers.” (James Martin S. J., author of My Life with the Saints)

What listeners say about 2,000 Years of Papal History: The History of the Popes, the Papacy, and the Catholic Church

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Narration!

The author somehow managed to squeeze in 2000 years of history into about 30 lectures and not get bogged down in dates and meaningless trivia. His narration style made me feel like he was speaking directly to me and kept me interested. I didn't detect any bias or favoritism toward any particular Pope or any criticism of the church, so I felt that I was listening to a genuine explanation of both the history and the personalities of those times.

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7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Do not recommend: full of author’s opinions

This review lacks of many historical facts, it is incomplete, and it is populated by subjective opinions and comments added by the author. Disappointing.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

What an Extraordinary Experience!

The speaker indicates there were 260 popes over the past 2000 years; depending on how one counts (remember the Schism and various anti-popes).  Before listening to this series, I thought popes were elected without much difficulty.  It was eye-opening to learn that between 1201 and 1300 CE, there were 7 anti-popes!

One thing that Dr. O'Malley said that I thought was profoundly appropriate was in reference to the Crusades.  He said that Pope Urban II unleashed the 'Law of Unforeseen Circumstances.'  He used this term in relation to the events that occurred during the Catholic Crusades.  The blood lust must have been truly horrible when most of the Muslims and Jews were murdered when the Crusaders took the Holy Cities.  Dr. O'Malley mentions that ONLY the First Crusade was successful, in relation to recapturing the Holy Lands.

The presenter picks-and-chooses the important/infamous popes over the years and centuries.  The PDF book that comes with these lessons is important reading to reinforce the points made.  He also asks 3 questions after each lesson, to cement the important points into the reader's mind. I liked Dr. O'Malley's style of speaking and his clear narration.  I walked away with a genuine understanding of the popes and their times.

 The presenter explained that the early leaders of the Church were more likely to be the erudite Bishops (St. Augustine and St. Ambrose), or later, the Abbots of Cluny.  The pope, as the undisputed leader of the Catholic Church, is a fairly recent emergence.  With world travel and worldwide communication, the papacy has become more acknowledged than ever before.  2000 years of the papacy has provided us with continuity and change at the same time.

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5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Great content but....

I love the subject, I just couldn't get past the narrator and his unique way of "telling" the story. I could not finish it.

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1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Terrible presentation

I really wanted to like this. The material sounded very interesting, the presenter however was terrible (in my opinion). Could not finish it

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Surprisingly pleasant story

I found the story of the Popes to be surprisingly pleasant and easy to listen to. I also particularly liked that the author narrated his own book.

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Very informative

Listen to this if you want to understand the history of the Catholic Church in a very straight forward and consumable manner👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It's a lecture, not a book

The content is quite good, but it sounds like a lecture, and not a professional read of a book. This becomes a major problem as the author's voice often tails off at the end of sentences, and is unintelligible. It sounds like he's given this information so many times that he's just bored. Even with the volume all the way up I can't make out what is said when he mumbles. Audible books are generally professionally read without the 'um' and 'ah' sounds that liter this work.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Dull, superficial, over ambitious, not a good read

This thing is like a dog writing his indulgent master’s biography. A guy richly rewarded by the Church writes a biography and the history of 206 or 264 popes in a few hundred pages.
And really has no insights meatier other than the Borgias may have been a tiny bit nefarious , Martin Luther was not liked by the hierarchy, but then Martin was not very likable, the Spanish Inquisition was against Muslims , Jews are not mentioned, and the profit motive which drove the Spanish Inquisition is definitely not mentioned.
A good book to skip.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great course.

This is a fascinating lecture series for Catholic and non-Catholic alike (I’m of the non-Catholic persuasion). The popes are part of world history no matter what your religious feeling. I appreciated the expertise and fairness of Father O’Malley. He wasn’t trying to preach or convert to Catholicism, but gave the institution a fair historical coverage, including both positive and negative aspects.

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