Clerical Celibacy: The Heritage

Overview

The recent sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church raised new questions about the abilities of a celibate priesthood to deal realistically with matters of sexuality. Critics and journalists who have examined these scandals have called for an end to mandatory celibacy for priests. In this carefully measured but provocative overview, Phipps points out that "mandatory celibacy is relatively new-fangled, having appeared during the last half of the church's existence. The innovation was imposed in the feudal and ...
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Overview

The recent sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church raised new questions about the abilities of a celibate priesthood to deal realistically with matters of sexuality. Critics and journalists who have examined these scandals have called for an end to mandatory celibacy for priests. In this carefully measured but provocative overview, Phipps points out that "mandatory celibacy is relatively new-fangled, having appeared during the last half of the church's existence. The innovation was imposed in the feudal and crusading era, a dark period for the Church." In order to provide this survey, Phipps probes ancient religious texts and church history and uses studies that provide factual assessments of the general individual and cultural consequences of celibacy. He avoids anecdotal evidence about celibacy and offers a balanced exploration by allowing celibate advocates and church representatives to speak in their own voices about these matters.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Protestant scholar Phipps (emeritus, Davis & Elkins Coll.) is, to put it mildly, unimpressed with the Roman Catholic discipline of clerical celibacy, calling it diseased, inhumane, and anachronistic, among other choice adjectives. Admittedly, a chapter on Jesus' purported celibacy is admirably balanced in its careful presentation of arguments both pro and con. But elsewhere, Phipps's hostility impels him to spray the theological battlefield indiscriminately with a fusillade of citations chosen with little concern for context, authoritativeness, or logic, e.g., drawing attention to the misogyny of the Gospel of Thomas without taking into account that it is a Gnostic, not an orthodox, text. Nonetheless, scattered among the flak of over 1200 references are many pertinent historical and theological facts, so a public library without prior holdings in the subject might want to purchase the book along with a work from the other side of the debate.-Charles Seymour, Mabee Learning Resources Ctr., Wayland Baptist Univ. Lib., Plainview, TX Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826416179
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 9/10/2004
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

William Phipps is Professor Emeritus of Religion and Philosophy, Davis and Elkins College. His numerous books on sexual themes in biblical and church history include Genesis and Gender, Was Jesus Married? and Influential Theologians on Wo/Man. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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Table of Contents

Timeline for tracing celibacy in Christianity
1 Introduction 1
2 The pre-Christian era 7
3 A celibate Jesus? 20
4 The apostolic era 60
5 The patristic era 81
6 The medieval era 121
7 From Luther to Paul VI 152
8 The contemporary era 188
9 Conclusion 237
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