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Publisher: Thomas Nelson
This lively text should appeal to both youngster and adult alike, and should serve as a welcome addition to any home, school or college library
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
In his introduction to Christian Encounters: Saint Patrick, Jonathan Rogers debunks the countless legends that have arisen around the life of the revered saint. Noting how comic some of those legends are, Rogers refers to the nineteenth-century Irish poet Aubrey de Vere’s description of their predominant characteristics as being those of “brightness and gladsomeness”. However, Rogers also finds that “Patrick’s comic reversals can seem cruel to modern sensibilities”. Even when the humor is obvious, Rogers points out that the point of the tale might be obscure.
Rogers regrets that the historical record pertaining to Patrick’s life is so brief, largely coming from two autobiographically inclined documents that, together, are fewer than twenty pages in length, namely his Confession and his Epistle to the Christian Subjects of the Tyrant Coroticus. This biography of the life and times of Patrick compares the legends surrounding Patrick with the historical facts that are known about the period in which he lived, as well as the biographical details that can be gleaned from his own writings. He also uses the legends of Patrick to illustrate and give color to the few facts that are known about the saint.
Rogers’ discursive style takes the form of an ongoing dialogue with the reader. Evidence of such a style can be seen in the following excerpt from Christian Encounters: Saint Patrick: “Perhaps we shouldn’t make too much of that [Patrick’s disclaimer of his knowing the true God at the age of sixteen]. It is not unusual, after all, for a teenage boy to reject the faith of his parents. On the other hand, it is possible that young Patrick didn’t know the true God because neither his father the deacon nor his grandfather the priest knew the true God.” The logical way in which Rogers presents his material can be seen in the signposting that he uses, such as his concluding Chapter One with an acknowledgement that he will return to the discussion of Patrick’s childhood sin “in a later chapter”. By providing such guidance to the reader, Rogers achieves coherence in the text which adds to the fluency and ease with which he expresses himself. Indeed, he appears to be totally at home with his subject matter, making Christian Encounters: Saint Patrick both an enjoyable and an informative read. Small wonder that Rogers writes so competently, as he holds a Ph.D. in 17th century literature from Vanderbilt University.
Concluding the biography with appendices containing Patrick’s previously mentioned writings, as well as annotations to the various chapters, Rogers proves himself a sound chronicler of the Christian faith, as well as a raconteur of note. This lively text should appeal to both youngster and adult alike, and should serve as a welcome addition to any home, school or college library.