(Christian Encounters Series)
Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
Over the centuries, there have been a multitude of biographies of Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. And now as part of the first installment of their biography series “Christian Encounters,” Thomas Nelson has released a new biography of St. Patrick by Jonathan Rogers. Although this is not the most extensive biography of Patrick’s life and work, Rogers does a good job of introducing Ireland’s saint. Relying heavily on the two extant works that can most reliably be attributed to Patrick (The Confession and The Letter Sent to the Soldiers of Coroticus – both of which are included as appendices in this volume), Rogers focuses on sorting out the reality of the historical Patrick from the many Irish legends that have surrounded his life over the centuries. The book’s first chapter does a fine job of describing the historical context in which Patrick’s life unfolded, i.e., the close of the Roman Empire. The final chapter of the book explores the theological significance of St. Patrick for the Church today as “A Witness to All Nations,” and the chapters between explore the unfolding of Patrick’s life in chronological order. One of Roger’s recurring themes throughout the book is the parallels between the apostolic ministry of St. Paul and that of St. Patrick. Most of Rogers’ work sticks pretty close to the realm of the factual, and one wishes at times he would have gone deeper in his historical and especially in his theological reflections. However, this volume excels at what it is intended to be, an introductory biography, and Rogers writes with language that is clear and accessible for most readers. If your knowledge of St. Patrick is limited to shamrocks, leprechauns and green beer, then I highly recommend that you take a few hours in this holiday season to enjoy Jonathan Rogers’ retelling of the story of St. Patrick’s life and works.