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Celtic Christianity


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For all the saints who from their labours rest - the first wave of interest in Celtic Christianity c. 664-800; and win, win them, the victor's crown of gold - the appeal and appropriation of Celtic Christianity between 1070 and 1220; and when the strife is fierce, the warfare long - nationalism and denominationalism, 1250-1850; O blest communion, fellowship divine - Celtic Christian revival in the later 19th century; the golden evening brightens in the west - Romanticism and the rise of critical scholarship, 1900-1960; but lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day - the contemporary revival.

About the Author

Ian Bradley is Senior Lecturer in Practical Theology in the School of Divinity, University of St. Andrews.


In the late 20th century there has been a renewal of interest in Celtic Christianity. Yet, as Bradley (The Celtic Way) points out, much of this revival is based on a grand and glorious portrait of a Celtic Christianity that likely never existed. In this book, Bradley traces the many myths and legends of Celtic Christianity created by writers who idealized certain figures and ideas from earlier times. Bradley contends that much of the earliest attention to the Christianity of the British Isles, most notably Ireland and Scotland, began in the early medieval period (664-800), during which writers depicted a handful of religious leadersÄPatrick, ColumbaÄas saints. Bradley argues that despite these writers making such men out to be saintly superstars, there are no contemporary writings about their life or work. Such an idealized representation of Celtic Christianity and its leading figures, however, carried through many later periods of history, even up until the present Celtic revival. Each chapter traces one of these historical periods; Bradley demonstrates each period's penchant for making myths about a supposed golden age of the Christian Church. In the end, the author concludes that we know very little about the earliest years of Celtic Christianity or about the many missionaries, monks and other religious figures who established the Church in the British Isles. Bradley's book is a fascinating study, combining Church history, theology and the psychology of human nature. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

A thought-provoking work. A thought-provoking work.

Bradley, a Church of Scotland minister, examines the roots of the Celtic Christian communities of the United Kingdom, their saints, and the mystique these churches thrive on and encourage. He debunks the exaggerations and fictions of monks and clerics who strive to make Patrick, Columba, Finan, Brigit, and others sources of endless miracles great and small. He describes the intense competition among monasteries and churches over relicsÄone with the head of Columba, another with Finan's hand, all promoting them as cure-alls. At various times, Celtic Christianity has been embraced in the U.K. to replace Roman influence, bolster regional power, and promote nationalism, notably in the 19th century. In his kindest passages, Bradley sees its current popularity as a more wholesome and appropriate quest than those of the past. Well researched, well written, though perhaps not totally objective, Bradley's book should be read, if not enjoyed, by scholars, especially in Ireland.ÄRobert C. Moore, Raytheon Electronic Sys., Sudbury, MA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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