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The Papacy: An Encyclopedia: 3-volume set [Hardcover]

Our Price $ 924.38  
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Item Number 157536  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   1824
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 12" Width: 9.5" Height: 5.95"
Weight:   11 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 14, 2001
Publisher   Routledge
ISBN  0415922283  
EAN  9780415922289  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
For a full list of entries and contributors, a generous selection of sample entries, and more, visit the Papacy: An Encyclopedia website.
Routledge is pleased to publish this acclaimed resource in a revised, expanded, and updated English language edition, translated by a team of experts in papal history.
This comprehensive three-volume reference not only covers all of the popes (and anti-popes) from St. Peter to John Paul II, but also explores the papacy as an institution. Articles cover the inner workings--both contemporary and historical--of the Holy See, and encompass religious orders, papal encyclicals, historical events, papal controversies, the arts, and more. This set is destined to be the standard English-language reference for all issues concerning the papacy. Also inlcludes five maps.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Enough material to exhaust the curia  Mar 25, 2004
This three-volume set is a translation of the Dictionnaire historique de la papauté, originally published in 1994. It is very comprehensive. Those accustomed to using one-volume dictionaries of the papacy (J. N. D. Kelly, Richard McBrien, Claudio Rendina) will be pleased to see entries that run to several pages for important popes such as Damasus I or Leo I. The work contains entries for all of the popes as well as articles on the usual topics like primacy and infallibility but also on "Greeks in Italy," which deals briefly with the immense impact of Greek clerics and even several Greek popes (not necessarily from Greece but from Greek-speaking areas such as Sicily) in the Early Middle Ages.

Not as unique but equally helpful are articles on the major Roman churches associated with the papacy such as Santa Maria Maggiore and Saint Paul's Outside the Walls. Articles appear on the visual arts including "Painting" and "Architecture, Papal," but not articles on music or sculpture per se; the catacombs also rate a separate entry. As always, there are puzzles-no entry on Palestrina but one on the Vatican railroad station. There is also an entry "Castrati of the Papal Chapel," surely a first.

JECS readers will be curious about entries on the early popes. The news is basically good. The contributors have done thorough jobs and include a great deal of information. The presentations are lucid and cover many aspects of the popes' lives and pontificates. The articles include much technical information such as the popes' involvement in financial and legal decisions or their involvement with the liturgy and church construction. Most of the secondary sources are French or at least European; few are North American although this is not unusual in European reference works. Just so many titles can be included in a bibliography, and the original audience was Francophone.

The primary sources do not appear at the end of the entries but are cited in the text. Readers can then turn to the list of abbreviations to check the originals. This is good practice. The information is there for the scholar who wants it, but the volumes are not burdened down with excess bibliographical references. This facility of use also extends to the indices, which are clear and easy to use.

My only reservation, and it is a major one, is the series' tendency to exclude items which reflect negatively on some popes. The word "exclude" is not chosen lightly because the omissions are of well-known facts. The article on Damasus I does not mention the two famous anecdotes always associated with him-his nickname of "the ladies' ear-tickler" and the observation by a noble pagan that he would be happy to become a Christian if he could live like the bishop of Rome. More seriously, the entry overlooks Damasus' repeated refusals of the requests of Basil the Great to help the Nicene cause in the Eastern regions of the empire because of the pope's obsession with who held the see of Antioch. The entry on Gregory I proves that he deserves the epithet "the Great" for his governance of the Roman church, his aid to the oppressed Italians, and his outreach to the barbarians, but the entry makes no mention of his rebuke to an Italian bishop for reading classical literature or his "unworthy jubilation" (J. N. D. Kelly) at hearing that the usurper Phocas had murdered the emperor Maurice.

This approach reflects the days when Catholic scholars felt the way to make a pope look good was to avoid mentioning the bad. The contributors could have realized that acknowledging that the popes had faults does not diminish them but only makes them human. Unfortunately, this meliorism did not end with the ancient Church. John Paul II is appropriately heroic and widely beloved et cetera, but there is no mention of his refusal to let the Jesuits choose their own superior general and his imposition of his own candidate on the Society because he did not like the leading candidate for the position.

The entry on Peter would have benefited from a good look at modern biblical scholarship. Peter's commissioning by Jesus (Matthew 16.18) is treated as an historical event despite the arguments of leading exegetes, including Roman Catholics, that this is a post-resurrection understanding by the evangelist.

There is an amazing article on Paul VI (1963-1978), particularly on Humanae Vitae, his 1968 encyclical on birth control. The author, the general editor himself, believes that the encyclical intended to establish a principle, not set down a law. Speaking of the difficulty Humanae Vitae encountered in Anglophone countries, Levillain says, "A law is to be obeyed, whereas a norm tends to inspire practice without imposing an obligation on the conscience. The distinction, incomprehensible to the Anglo-Saxon mentality (my emphasis), confounded the analysis, reduced the text to the level of the prescriptive and the binding, and undermined the authority of Rome" (1142). We may be able to understand why something so ridiculous and insulting appeared in the original, but how did it end up in an edition intended for Anglophone readers?

Given the size and depth of the articles, this three-volume set could have become a standard research and reference tool, but since the uncomprehending Anglo-Saxon mind considers objectivity a virtue in scholarly writing, the blatant editorializing in the articles will always make the learned reader wonder what has been left out. This is unfortunate, and it is annoying; I had truly hoped this work would be a valuable one.

The formidable price, understandable for so large a work, will make this more a tool for the university or seminary library than for private ownership.
Joseph F. Kelly


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