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Doctors of the Church: Thirty-Three Men and Women Who Shaped Christianity [Hardcover]

By Bernard McGinn (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 5.8" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1999
Publisher   Crossroad Classic
ISBN  0824517717  
EAN  9780824517717  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Lively biographical sketches of the 33 spiritual guides whom Catholicism has honored with the title "doctor": Athanasius, Ambrose, Bernard, Bede, Teresa of Avila. What were the turning points in their lives and their most notable contributions? Bibliographies cover translations and major studies in English.

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More About Bernard McGinn

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Bernard McGinn is the Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus in the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is the author of Anti-Christ, Early Christian Mystics, The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism, and The Mystical Thought of Meister Eckhart. He lives in Chicago.

Bernard McGinn currently resides in Chicago, in the state of Illinois. Bernard McGinn was born in 1937.

Bernard McGinn has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Classics of Western Spirituality (Hardcover)
  2. Classics of Western Spirituality (Paperback)
  3. Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism (Paperback)
  4. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)
  5. Presence of God
  6. Presence of God
  7. Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism
  8. Records of Civilization: Sources & Studies

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A doctor in the house...  May 14, 2003
There is a rare and distinguished title in the church, little used and even less understood--that of Doctor of the Church. To date, only 33 men and women have been accorded the honour of being a Doctor of the Church, and among these are some of the most influential figures of Christianity (most of Christianity as a whole, and not just specifically Roman Catholicism). They include the likes of Augustine, John Chrysostom, Aquinas, and Teresa of Avila.

--What is this title?--
Doctors of the Church have been so named because they have provided critical insight into the life, practice, spirituality and definition of the church at key historical points, and have done so in such as way as to endeavour to teach and otherwise impart this knowledge to others. These are the great teachers of the church, in word and deed.

They are divided into three broad categories. The Patristic Doctors are the notables among the early church fathers, in the post-apostolic age to the close of the early round of church councils. These Patristic Doctors are thirteen in number:

Athanasius of Alexandria
Ephrem the Syrian
Hilary of Poitiers
Cyril of Jerusalem
Basil of Caesarea
Gregory of Nazianzus
Ambrose of Milan
John Chrysostom
Augustine of Hippo
Cyril of Alexandria
Peter Chrysologus
Leo the Great

The next subgrouping is the Medieval Doctors:

Gregory the Great
Isador of Seville
Bede the Venerable
John of Damascus
Peter Damian
Anselm of Canterbury
Bernard of Clairvaux
Anthony of Padua
Albert the Great
Bonaventure of Bagnorea
Thomas Aquinas
Catherine of Siena

The next subgrouping is the Modern Doctors:

Teresa of Avila
Peter Canisius
John of the Cross
Robert Bellarmine
Lawrence of Brindisi
Francis de Sales
Alphonsus de Liguori
Theresa of Lisieux

The Patristic Doctors tend to be held in high regard by all denominations, East and West, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. The Medieval and Modern Doctors are often less regarded outside of Catholic circles, but still have provided spiritual and theological insight that enriches the entirety of Christianity.

It is unclear what authority outside of the Papacy can declare a Doctor of the Church -- this book remains ambiguous on that point, too.

`Although in the last four centuries it is only the Roman popes who have been interested in adding new names to the list of doctors, recent popes have not used their power of nomination to aggrandise the papacy by adding more of their predecessors.... Since 1700, only one pope, Leo I (declared a doctor in 1754), has made the list--and few would disagree with this belated recognition of a teacher revered in both Eastern and Western Christianity. A survey of the new doctors shows that the bishops of Rome have continued to think of 'doctor' as an ecumenical denomination, involving both Eastern and Western Christianity.'

--What is the future of this title?--
The most important aspect of the Doctors of the Church is without a doubt their continuing influence in the development of life, practice, thinking and spirituality of all of Christianity. A renewed interest in those who demonstrated clearly the vocation of teaching in the church bodes well for an increasingly community-driven model of church leadership.

`What is distinctive about the doctors as a group is the model they present of combining the intense love of God and neighbour that defines sanctity with a commitment to the intellectual work of learning, preaching, teaching, and writing.'

Doctors are different from saints in their status and role; these people live as much through their writings as through their veneration and intercessory aspects.

With a concern toward the ecumenical nature of the office doctor ecclesiae, McGinn argues for the inclusion of more Eastern figures, as well as Protestant figures who illuminate truth in their own way -- as Aquinas said, no one figure will ever embody or represent the fullness of truth found in the church as a whole, and that definition of church must be broadened beyond medieval political definitions.

Bernard McGinn has put together a good collection of brief biographies of these important figures.

St. Martha Parish Okemos, Michigan Bulletin Book Club  Aug 31, 2001
This is the first choice in the first month of our new parish-wide book club that meets only in our church bulletin: St. Martha Parish-Wide Bulletin Book Club, a project of FACE/Foundations in Adult Catholic Education. If you belong to St. Martha's or read this review, you're in the club! No pressure. No meetings. We won't mind if you list this membership on your resume.
The Doctors of the Church are recognized as authoritative teachers who pass on spiritual wisdom. McGinn reminds that "Doctrina in Latin signifies the act of teaching, instructing, or training of any kind, so a doctor is a person who teaches...." (P.4) We posited that our book club should begin with a firm selection. We set about asking which Christian or Roman Catholic book, besides the Bible, would be best for our new beginning. We concluded that we should begin with our Church's most distinguished faculty. While these thirty-three are not our Master Teacher, each has been from over two thousand years of Christian authors and teachers elevated by The Church to doctor ecclesia. Whom better to start our book club school year than teachers?
There are other offerrings published on the subject of Doctors of the Church, but McGinn's authority as an historical theologian and position as Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor of historical theology at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago that brings such brilliance and richness to this book. From the preface he brings the reader into the 2000 year traditions of Roman Catholicism through a descriptive architectural tour of St. Peter's Basilica as a metaphor for this historical richness. His ability as scholar and teacher bring us in Part One to an understanding of what a Doctor of the Church is and how that definition evolved. If Truth is elegant, McGinn is perfecting it!
This book provides a very challenging several days read/study, or could be used as a contemporary burst-read-before-bed by reading a single life at a time, usually no more than three pages. Each life could also be read slowly for the spiritual challenge each doctor's writings inspire in the contemplative. As if this weren't enough, McGinn adds three appendices that are concise and useful reviews: Dictionary of Heresies (2 pages), Ecumenical Councils (2 pages), and Use of Doctors in Recent Church Teaching (2 pages).
Reading this book is like taking a survey course in Church philosophical underpinnings, without the lengthy term papers and thick tombs. This book is not only in paperback, but is few more than 200 pages!
Finding a selection to appeal to busy adults in 2500 families in a Roman Catholic parish in the mid-West was certainly made easier by McGinn. We're very excited to have a selection that will allow all levels of readers to delve into two thousand years of doctrine in a meaningful way. This is a perfect selection for September back to work and school with Roman Catholicism's most distinguished faculty, our doctores ecclesiae.
a great place to dive in  Feb 22, 2001
Modern Christians, much like the ancient Israelites described in the book of Judges, are plagued by a lack of memory. All too often, we forget the lessons handed down to us by generations past.

My search for those lessons is what led me to this book: "The Doctors of the Church : Thirty-Three Men and Women Who Shaped Christianity" by Bernard McGinn

One the great resources I have found for unearthing the wisdom of the past is Paulist Press' wonderful series: "The Classics of Western Spirituality." Having read a few volumes of the series, and having noticed Mr. McGinn's name was listed in my most recent volume as being the General editor, I decided to read something written by him. I found that "The Doctors of the Church" is an excellent introduction to and starting point for the study of the Catholic Church doctors.

The book begins with a chapter about what exactly a doctor of the Church is. It then moves on to discuss how each doctor got to be a doctor. I found these chapters interesting enough...but the prey I was hunting for here I only found in the next (and largest) section of the book.

The second section of the book consists of brief descriptions of the life and teachings of each doctor. This part of the book is ideally suited for those needing an introductory level overview of the doctors. More useful still, each chapter has suggestions for reading works by the doctor as well as McGinn's own bibliography of works about the doctor. This is an awesome way to make it easy to dive into the deep waters of the doctors' teachings.

The final section discusses the significance of the doctors to the Church today as well as where McGinn thinks the Church might turn as far as the naming of doctors in the future. This was again insightful, but less useful for my purposes.

Overall, I found "The Doctors of the Church" to be an excellent book. I glad I read it; and now, I recommend it to you.

Like most protestants the term "doctor of the church" meant little to me. If anything it may have referred to those ministers in the church who had conferred upon them an honorary doctory of divinity degree. As the years went by I encountered the term in one of my college religion classes but its origins were never explained to me until the advent of this book.

Bernard McGinn profiles the lives of thirty-three men and women who shaped Christianity not by academic degrees but through their sermons, teachings, exemplary lives and leadership. These illuminating teachers were the "Doctors of the Church." In his introduction the evolution of the term is explained. In Latin christianity it was a generic term denoting all who gave instruction in the faith. As the church began to institutionalize and doctrinal disputes arose ,the term and the functions of such persons became more critical. Thus the institutional church gave a person the authoritative title of "doctor" however it was understood that the Holy Spirit was the guiding principal in that person's teachings.

The text is divided into three time periods in which these doctors emerged;Patristic, Medieval and Modern. A brief bography is given on each subject and the particular teaching that they expoused. In the Patristic period we find doctors who are acceptable in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Othodox traditions. At the close of his text the author speculates about the future of the doctors of the church. Will protestants be included? What about more laity, women and those who are married? What importance will they have for the future of Christianity as a whole? I highly recommend this book for those interested in church history, the individual doctors and the impact that these thinkers had on all aspects of Christianity. For the general reader it is an accessible document and will give you a greater appreciation of the church's history and growth through its teachers.


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