I’m a big fan of St. Patrick of Ireland, and Saint Patrick, by Jonathan Rogers, didn’t disappoint me. Its 132 pages pack a lot of information for one of the small books in the Thomas Nelson Christian Encounters series. Myths, legends, and facts are discussed concerning the life of Saint Patrick, leaving us with a more realistic view of the man than the brief descriptions put out by the St. Patrick’s Day news briefs.
Roman rule was marginal on the outer rim of Saint Patrick’s Britain and quickly fading during Patrick’s lifetime. Rogers weaves the historical record of the demise of Roman influence with the reality of Patrick’s rough journey in becoming a missionary from Britain to the “barbarians” of Ireland. Such evangelism seemed senseless under Roman Christianity. A former slave going back to his captors as a missionary was absurd.
Appendix A and B contain Patrick’s original writings, which provide the baseline for scholarly speculation by Rogers. Reading St. Patrick’s words, along with Roger’s commentary, helps illuminate the challenges Patrick faced in life.
Rogers is a gifted writer, communicating an overview of data with humor and a smooth writing style. He is obviously very fond of St. Patrick and I gleaned information that I had not known from my other readings on the patron saint of Ireland.
Patrick’s references to God as his authority in the few surviving documents he wrote seem to foretell Celtic Christianity’s view of bishop independence. The flourishing of Celtic Christianity, which evolved from Patrick’s service in Ireland, impacted the survival of Western Christianity. I wish that Rogers had given these aspects of Patrick’s legacy more investigation in this book.
I hope this short review will encourage you to examine St. Patrick and his Celtic Christianity beyond the trappings of the shamrock and beer. I recommend Saint Patrick for an enjoyable quick understanding of the saint and his times, but I also suggest rounding out the book by reading Listening for the Heartbeat of God by J. Philip Newell, The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George G. Hunter III and Celtic Treasure by Liz Babbs. (Click each book cover in the sidebar for a description.)
For a quick overview of Celtic Christianity see the post Exploring the Paths of Celtic Christianity.
In Him together, Susan Gaddis