A quick study of the world’s largest and oldest Christian church, from a Swiss priest whose unorthodox views on the subject have kept him simmering in hot water for the last quarter-century.
Probably the most famous Catholic theologian of the late 20th century, Küng (Infallible? An Inquiry, not reviewed) lost his license to teach Catholic theology in 1979 precisely as a result of his theories regarding the development of church offices (especially the papacy) and doctrines. Here his aim is much simpler, and he manages to provide a good, readable narrative history of the church from the apostolic age to the present day—although there is a continual background hum from the axes that he keeps grinding throughout. The true miracle of Christianity, as the author points out, was its explosion as a world religion during late antiquity—a development that could not possibly have been imagined by anyone who knew it only in its earliest incarnation as an eccentric Jewish sect competing for adherents in the wake of the Temple’s destruction in
A well-told, sweeping, and often incisive portrait that needs to be taken cum grano salis.