on 21 March 2013
In this otherwise interesting work I was surprised the author did not draw a line between history and fairytales. He speaks of the early popes as if they had really lived.
In his fascinating biography the 33-Day Pope John Paul I in his role as a seminary instructor tells his students:
"Until the third century there was no organized church in Rome; just a few Christians scattered in the catacombs. Christianity had been organized in the Mideast as early as the 2nd century and centered in Antioch by the middle of the 3rd century. The first `bishop of Rome' was Dionysius appointed by the Council of Antioch in 259AD which also declared the theological figures `Peter' and `Linus' to be the 1st and 2nd bishops of Rome. It is both a biblical and historical fact that Peter was never in Rome. In 328AD the members of the Council of Nicea filled in the vacancies between Dionysus back to Linus with more than two dozen `bishops of Rome' of which only seven are known to have ever lived..."
There is a school that holds that according to the weight of the gospels--discounting one-liners--James was intended by Jesus to be the first pope. Yet, even here one must be careful not to confuse theology with history. Seminaries teach theology; they do not teach history.
Unlike Jesus, Peter, Linus and James who were theological figures the evangelists wrote about long after they were said to have lived; Paul is a historical figure--we know he lived. It is also a biblical and historical fact Paul was in Rome. What's more, history knows Paul was the first historical figure to preach the gospels. If one considers the facts, Paul--not Peter--was the first pope.
It was disappointing there was not some of this kind of dialogue--history vs. theology--in this work.