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Paperback Celtic Spirituality Book

ISBN: 0809138948

ISBN13: 9780809138944

Celtic Spirituality

(Part of the The Classics of Western Spirituality Series)

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Book Overview

Sure to be of exceptional interest among scholars as well as recreational readers is this volume in the esteemed Classics of Western Spirituality(TM) series. Celtic Spirituality offers translations of numerous texts from the Celtic tradition from the 6th through the 13th centuries, in a cross-section of genres and forms, including saints' lives, monastic texts, poetry, devotional texts, liturgical texts, apocrypha, exegetical texts, and theological...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Anthology of Primary Texts

This book is fantastic, offering a well selected variety of early Celtic Christian literature. The selections, (many for the first time translated into English) offer a real feel for the dispositions, theology, and flavor of the early Celtic Christian. The introductory chapters offer valuable contextual information. If there is a fault with the introduction, it is that it leaves the reader thirsting for more. The end notes, as well, communicate important information regarding descriptions of geography, information explaining items which may not be self-explanatory to the first time student in this field of study. As with the introduction, the end notes leave the reader thirsting for more. I really only have one major complained or criticism: I hate end notes. Placing the references, etc, as foot notes is much more convenient, easier to locate, and keeps the reference in the context of the main texts. I wish for many more volumes such as this. In the meantime I continue rereading this one to two times per year, and continually looking up references. For a student of the early Celtic Church who is not fluent in either Latin or any of the early Irish, Scot, or Welsh languages, this book is a must read, and will provide much spiritual edification. An invaluable resource to include in one's library.

Excellent compilation of Celtic spirituality

Celtic Christianity is rightly said to be the branch of Christianity which celebrates God's immanence in the cosmos, and this collection of works from Celtic Christians gives an excellent overview of this fascinating branch of Christian spirituality. Very pleasing to me was seeing John Scotus Eriugena's Commentary on the Gospel of John, where he blasts the Manicheans for seeing the material world as evil (such a position was totally incomprehensible in Eriugena's eyes, and his admiration for the beauty of the cosmos runs through his works). There are also other works including poems, hymns and stories of saints. This volume is a valuable addition to the library of any Christian interested in Christian spirituality.

I bind unto myself today...

Partly there is a problem dealing with Celtic spirituality, or indeed, Celtic anything. It is comparatively recently in history that the coalescence of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Briton, Manx, and other 'Celtic fringe' cultural groups have been classified as a unified Celtic society. Certainly the early people in these regions (not to mention those on the continent) would have seen differences as outweighing the similarities, and would have found unity only in being non-Roman and non-Germanic. Certainly there is a sharing of story, world view, and spiritual sense, however, that helps us make sense of describing Celtic Spirituality as a category. This relates both to the earlier non-Christian Celtic religions (yes, there was more than one) and the ways in which Christianity spread to the Celtic regions. `While recognising the importance of Celtic primal religion at the earliest and most formative stage of evangelisation of the Celtic-speaking cultures, it must be recognised that the surviving evidence for Celtic religion in sparse, and often comes from widely differing places and times. But something of its general character does emerge.' Included in this character are a sense of place (which often includes woodlands, water, glades, springs, mountains, etc.). Ideas of treasure, particularly hidden treasure, and that being a treasure that is not always what the world would value, abound. Heroism and bravery, often at dramatic cost with a deep sense of loss even in the victories, goes through many tales. Other worldly and pantheistic imagery coexist in many ways. Animals and birds are often seen as messengers, harbingers, or symbolic -- many of the illuminated manuscript from Irish monasteries show the continuation of this sort of influence. Celtic religions are also predominantly oral, hence the popularity of story, song, and poem as opposed to argued technical essays or homiletic forms. The texts in this volume are divided according to the following categories: Hagiography These are lives of the saints, often told as heroic (and sometimes tragic) tales. Of course the greatest cycle known to us is the Patrick Tradition -- those stories and legends that have gathered around St. Patrick, who lived in the fifth century. These include letters, declarations, a life story, sayings, and St. Patrick's Breastplate, known to many as a very long hymn, but which actually exists in many different forms. Apart from the Patrick stories are stories of St. Brigit, St. Brendan, St. David, St. Beuno, and St. Melangell, all unique Celtic saints. Monastic Texts In a recently issued popular history, entitled How the Irish Saved Civilisation, Thomas Cahill argues that the preservation of culture and learning in the Irish monastic movement gives us much of our knowledge and continuation from civilisation in the past. There is much to be said for this argument, for the early Irish love of books, knowledge, and historical sense of preservation of the valuable gives us much of

An excelent overview for the intelligent and serious reader

In my eighteen or so years as a Celtic Catholic, and especially in the past five years, I have seen the term "Celtic Christianity" applied to everything from the sublime (love of nature and the saints) to the ridiculous (giving communion to your dog) to the utterly intolerable (worshipping pagan gods). Some modern writers on the theme do an excellent job of interpreting this strand of the Christian Faith for the modern reader; others are better left unread. So where is a serious inquirer to go for "the real goods"? Where to find out what our ancient Fathers and Mothers in the Faith really believed, thought, and did? Davies's book is an excellent resource. Limiting his own comments and interpretations to the introduction (and with an excellent preface by James Mackey), Davies contents himself with providing clear and easily readable translations of original source material. Some of the most important documents for understanding the mind of the early Celtic Christian are here. You can read all of St. Patrick's own writings and the ancient biography by Muirchú. Discover the most ancient accounts of St. Brigit, St. Brendan, St. David, and even the dear but little-known St. Melangell and her hare. But that's not all. There is the monastic Rule of St. Columbanus, ten Irish poems, twenty Welsh poems, and several devotional prayer-poems. You can find some of the oldest Celtic liturgical material, interpretations of Scriptural passages, ten ancient sermons, and some theology courtesy of Pelagius and John Scottus Eriugena. This is all original material, carefully translated and presented in an easy-to-use format. But it's not dry dusty stuff: it breathes a freshness from the early days of the Faith that is sometimes missing from more modern writers. We've perhaps been around too long, thought about it too much. Our Celtic saints got the good news "hot off the press," and embraced it with a shocking enthusiasm which is good for us jaded post-moderns. I hope you read this book and enjoy it as much as I have.

Entering Celtic Spirituality

This is an excellent book, edited by the founder of the MA program in Celtic Christianity, at the University of Wales, Lampeter. The book brings the topic to life, and allows the reader to gain an insight into the spiritual world of the Celts. Dr. Davies presents the reader with a wide variety of works, that give an excellent representation of Celtic writing and thought. It is a book that must be read and reread, in order to gain the full effect of the excellent pieces of work offered. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the Celts and/or spirituality.
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