Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Review: St. Patrick (Christian Encounters Series) by Jonathan Rogers

More than just the namesake of a Spring-time holiday known more for excessive drinking than radical evangelism, St. Patrick, for all those who would study his life and words, stands as a startling call to spiritual renewal and a lifetime of self-sacrifice. Though most of what we know about St. Patrick emerges from a corpus of legends and hagiography, the circumstances surrounding the historical St. Patrick shed light upon a life fraught with struggle yet nevertheless passionate about sharing the Gospel with a marginalized group of people.

Jonathan Rogers small but illuminating book is lucid, cogent, and compelling. With brevity, Rogers parses out the historical life of St. Patrick in a way that is both chronologically consistent and theologically rich. Rogers strength lies in offering theological interpretations of various Patrick legends while simultaneously grounding them in the actual life and works of St. Patrick. Thus, when one arrives at the end of the book, a rich and theologically compelling portrait of St. Patrick emerges, which offers to the readers a chance to reflect on one’s own life and works.

The one criticism I have with Rogers’ writing is that, when attempting to fill in the historical gaps in St. Patrick’s life, he often offers conjectures that are too speculative to offer a conclusive and convincing interpretation of certain aspects of St. Patrick’s life. Though not detrimental to the quality of his writing and research, it sometimes feels as if Rogers lapses into writing a type of legend himself. Thankfully, Rogers acknowledges these speculative conjectures, which allows the readers to offer him grace in this regard. Concerning methods of research, Rogers clearly acknowledges his sources while not seeming derivative.

Overall, this is a light but rich telling of the life of St. Patrick. It is clear good research lies at the core of this book, yet it does not come across as stilted or boring. Rather, we come to know the significance of the life of St. Patrick while ourselves being offered the ability to reflect on the mission and meaning of our own life. A highly recommended read.

*This review was done in agreement with Thomas Nelson publishers. By writing an objective review, I was offered a free copy of the book.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like it would have been very interesting to read