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Publisher's Summary

In this compelling series of lectures, widely esteemed author and professor Thomas F. Madden illustrates how the papacy, the world's oldest institution, gave birth to the West.

Since Jesus Christ instructed the foremost of his Apostles, Peter, that he would be the rock upon which Christ would build his church, the papacy has survived the rise and fall of empires while continuing to assert an undeniable influence on world events. The men who have served as pope are a fascinating collection of larger-than-life personages who have touched millions of lives, changed the course of history, and even launched crusades that have altered the balance of global politics.

With a learned approach and incisive analysis, Professor Madden not only provides a history of the papacy, but sheds light on the personalities of the popes and the flavor of their pontificates. At the same time, Madden demonstrates how the papacy has survived the tumultuous cauldron of history and offers a studied commentary on the future of this resilient institution.

©2006 Thomas F. Madden; (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

A synthesis

If one has all his other lectures on the Catholic Church, one can skip this one, because it would sound awfully repetitive. On the other hand, this lecture does make a good synthesis of his other lectures on church history.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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wonderful intro to the history of the papacy

Mr. Madden has done his homework. This work is a fine introduction to the long and sometimes sorted history of the papacy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Paul
  • Plympton, Australia
  • 05-25-13

An amazing history

I'm not Catholic, but this history is fascinating. As the professor says, the Papacy has lasted about 2000 years, and is the oldest human institution in the world. When you consider the different societies in which it has functioned, from the ancient Roman Empire, through feudal Europe and into the modern secular world, to see how it has responded to all these changes and challenges is interesting. I was especially interested in what he had to say about Pius XII's conduct during the Second World War, as I had heard more negative assessments. Given only 8 hours, the professor could not cover every topic of interest in depth. But, like a good meal, it left me wanting more, and I'll certainly do more reading.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Strong but not incredibly Detailed

This lecture series was excellent overall. Still, because it covers such a large span of time it is difficult to really get very detailed. It would jump so quickly through different popes, decades, and even centuries, it was difficult to follow. All in all, very educational and a great listen.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Super solid. Orthodox. Historically accurate.

this was very well-constructed and very faithful to church teaching while remaining objective in its historical accuracy. I'm very grateful to have had it to listen to in the car.

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Great overview of Papal history

It gave a great historical understanding of Catholic Church history and the impact on the world. It didn't shy away from the negatives, but also showed the reality of the Catholic faith in Christ and how it has positively impact the world.

  • Overall
  • DAG
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • 11-15-09

Not warts and all

This series of lectures has much to recommend it. The lectures are clear and informative. The discussions of the theology is clearly presented.
The lectures are very pro-pontiff. All actions of the popes are presented as either political ("He did this because policy demanded it") or as necessity. The morally reprehensible things done by the popes is glossed-over or not presented. We can perhaps understand that, for example, Pius V's encouraging English Catholics to revolt against Elizabeth or his encouragement of the persecution of the Hugenots is not presented but this kind of omission over 2000 years then makes assertions about the pristine behavior of Pius XII during World War II less credible.
Despite that, the lectures are informative and for those wanting to get an overview, they are useful and well-presented. Just bear in mind that it is a one-sided view.

12 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • 10-22-13

Steady as a Rock

What did you like most about The Modern Scholar?

It was terrific to hear a scholarly account of the papacy told with conviction. So much of the published word is anti catholic and many are so indoctrinated to believe in the falsehoods promulgated by less learned men and the popular media of the times.<br/>The Barque of Peter is surely able to survive the roughest seas past, present and future and it seems the great heresies continue along with the misguidance of those who do not seek the truth.

Have you listened to any of the narrator’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Always a good speaker even to us less academic.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not really. Too much to take in and considr.

Any additional comments?

Listen to the truth.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs. L. Surtees
  • 02-23-16

Fascinating and full of information

clear, honest, helpful and unpatronising. This audio book answered so many questions relating to very humen men in a divine office.

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  • Jonathan
  • 01-29-15

Great clarity on a complicated topic

A few years ago I listened to the reading of John Julius Norwich's book "The Popes: A History" (read by Michael Jayston, on audible). It is a long (21 hours) and very detailed account, going through almost all of the popes with a mini biography, and it was very interesting. But at the same time it was frustrating because it focussed on the individual popes and gave limited information about the relevant historical background, and (even more frustrating) limited insight into the evolution of the papacy as an institution. Professor Madden's course, though much shorter, does cover both of these areas and I recommend it very highly. There is plenty of information on many key popes, but many more are not mentioned. Instead Madden explains the role played by the papacy as both a secular and religious office over the centuries. The story is made easy to follow and is very clear. Madden himself has a somewhat downbeat style but and some reviewers of his courses have complained about this -- definitely he is not in the class of the Modern Scholar lecturer Drout for example, but he is clear and concise, and makes his points well. If you want to know about the papacy I recommend starting with this course; if you want to know more then go with Norwich's book, but only after listening to this course.