Archives For Christian Encounters


“A Spring of Water in a Burning Wasteland

A Review of
St. Francis (Christian Encounters Series)
by Robert West.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

St. Francis (Christian Encounters Series)
Robert West.
Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2010.
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St Francis - Christian Encounters Series - Robert WestAt some point, the editors of the “Christian Encounters” biography series from Thomas Nelson must have faced the dilemma of whether or not to include a volume on St. Francis.  On one hand, as perhaps the most recognized figured within Christianity outside the first century, he would certainly merit inclusion among the other notable Christians in this series.  However, as such a renowned and recognized figure, the question of whether the world really needs yet another biography of Francis must have crossed the editors’ minds. Of course, we know now that they did indeed choose to include a biography of Francis and Robert West’s work does not disappoint, offering us an enjoyable and educational introduction not only to St. Francis, but also to the world in which he lived, at the height of the medieval era.  West’s biography is neither literary – like the tales of Francis’s life penned by Chesterton or Kazantzakis – nor hagiography (like, for instance, Brother Ugolino’s The Little Flowers of St. Francis), neither is it a lifeless history text full of facts about Francis.  West’s biography, instead, is a fine example of what I would call narrative history.   Written with careful attention to language, one can imagine this account being told aloud in the oral tradition, and yet it is also attentive to what is known historically about Francis and the times in which he lived, and is careful not to mythologize him.  West’s biography is one of the finest introductory biographies of St. Francis that I have encountered, and would be an enjoyable read even for students as young as middle school.

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This is the first in a new and intriguing series of little biographies from Thomas Nelson.

Jane Austen.
(Christian Encounters Series).

Peter Leithart.
Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2010.
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Christian Encounters: Jane Austen by Peter Leithart