Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The General Councils: A History of the Twenty-One Church Councils from Nicaea to Vatican II

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The General Councils: A History of the Twenty-One Church Councils from Nicaea to Vatican II

Article excerpt

Bellitto, Christopher M. The General Councils: A History of the Twenty-One Church Councils from Nicaea to Vatican II. (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press. 2002. Pp. xi, 156. $16.95 softcover.)

In this compact volume, Christopher Bellitto offers a concise overview of the twenty-one general councils from Nicaea in 325 to the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's. Covering such a vast amount of time, as well as the transformation of a general council's role from chiefly defining articles of faith to one of determining normative behavior, would be an enormous feat in a volume of several thousand pages. The book is divided into four sections: councils in the first millennium, councils in the Middle Ages, councils in the reformation era, and councils in the modern age. In part one, Bellitto addresses the work of the early councils in establishing doctrine and providing disciplinary norms, as well the Church's efforts to adapt to the political changes following the collapse of the Roman empire and the rise of the Carolingians. In part two, he turns to the four Lateran and the Vienne councils, focusing, not surprisingly, on the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, whose dispensations on the sacramental life for the laity effectively set the norms that would last to Trent and even beyond. …

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