Why Priests?: A Failed Tradition

Why Priests?: A Failed Tradition

by Garry Wills


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New York Times–bestselling author Garry Wills provides a provocative analysis of the theological and historical basis for the priesthood

In a riveting and provocative tour de force from the author of What Jesus Meant, Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Wills poses the challenging question: Why did the priesthood develop in a religion that began without it and, indeed, was opposed to it? Why Priests? argues brilliantly and persuasively for a radical re-envisioning of the role of the church as the Body of Christ and for a new and better understanding of the very basis of  Christian belief. As Wills emphasizes, the stakes for the writer and the church are high, for without the priesthood there would be no belief in an apostolic succession, the real presence in the Eucharist, the sacrificial interpretation of the Mass, and the ransom theory of redemption. This superb study of the origins of the priesthood stands as Wills’s towering achievement and will be of interest to all inquiring minds, believers and non-believers alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143124399
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 637,518
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Garry Wills is an adjunct professor and cultural historian in the Department of History at Northwestern Universityand the author of Lincoln at Gettysburg, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.

Michael Prichard has recorded well over five hundred audiobooks and was named one of SmartMoney magazine's Top Ten Golden Voices. His numerous awards and accolades include an Audie Award and several AudioFile Earphones Awards.

Date of Birth:

May 22, 1934

Place of Birth:

Atlanta, GA


St. Louis University, B.A., 1957; Xavier University, M.A., 1958; Yale University, Ph.D., 1961

Table of Contents

Key to Brief Citations xi

Introduction 1

I Priest Power: The Eucharist 5

1 A Priestless Movement 7

2 Holy Men 20

3 The Eucharistic Miracle 34

4 Explaining the Miracle: Aquinas 43

5 Explaining the Miracle: Augustine 54

II Jesus the Non-Priest 69

6 Killer Priests 71

7 The Melchizedek Myth 82

8 Higher Melchizedeks 96

9 Melchizedek and Jesus 107

III Letter to Hebrews 117

10 What Is It? 119

11 What Does It Mean? 130

12 A New High Priest 142

IV Jesus as Sacrifice 159

13 Human Sacrifice 161

14 Who Killed Jesus? 173

V Jesus as Rescuer 189

15 The Saving Trinity 191

16 Christ as Comrade 203

VI Monopoly on the Sacred 215

17 Priestly Imperialism 217

18 The Lord's Supper(s) 241

Envoi 256

Acknowledgments 261

Appendix I Translating Hebrews 263

Appendix II Letter to Hebrews 271

Index 291

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From the Publisher

"Clearly a thought-provoker destined to inspire debate." —-Library Journal

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