Uitgeverij Kok is the Netherlands’ largest Christian publisher. They are not from one Christian current. This proves because the book I am reviewing here is called “The Roman-Catholic Church, the complete handbook”, but they also got a similar impressive book about the Reformation. The title covers the contents of this book. It is massive (800 pages) and stuffed with information. Almost anything you want to know about the Roman-Catholic church can be found here.
The book is divided in four parts. The first part speaks about the founding, the early days, heresies, schismas, concilics, Eastern churches, orders, etc., etc. This means that you will not only read the early churchfathers, how the doctrines where formed, but also why what kind of church was built, their styles and functions; what are the atributes, what is the clothing of a priest, etc.
The second part is about the doctrine. You can read about the Bible (every book is shortly explained), the dogma’s, catechism and much more.
Then follows a part about the functions within the church. Every function is explained and then a large part of the book is filled with short biographies of the 263 popes.
The last part is dedicated to management of the church in the Netherlands and Belgium. Who are bishop and what are the dioceses, etc.
To complete the book there is a large index and a bibliography.
The book is very well readable. One point of comment is that here and there the writer uses a term that he doesn’t explain of only later in the book. The book makes a good reference-book about the institution of the Catholic church, for individuals, but also for the many parishes who no longer have their own priest or sacristan and where parishioners have to take care of many things themselves. Since they didn’t get the proper education for such a task, much knowledge would get lost and things could go wrong, but a book like this on the shelves could solve a problem or two because there is also very practical information in it, like the liturgic colours, what songs belong in what kind of mass, etc.