My first experience with Saint Patrick came from the oft dreaded annual ritual of needing to wear green on March 17th to avoid being pinched by some else at school. These many years later, I gladly embrace my Irish heritage each year on March 17th but I still know little about Patrick.
Jonathan Rogers’ book on Patrick’s life and theology has given me a very good introductory picture of this man who did not, according to legends of many centuries, drive the snakes out of Ireland (Rogers notes in the introduction that, 200 years before Patrick, the Greek geographer Solinus noted that “Ireland was free of snakes.”); or that “there is no record of Patrick using the shamrock to teach the Irish about the Trinity.”
Part of Thomas Nelson’s series Christian Encounters, that feature short introductions to a variety of literary, historical, musical, and religious leaders, Rogers book provides us with helpful information about this well-loved Christian figure whose return to Ireland as a young man, helped to establish Christianity at the edge of the declining Roman Empire in the fourth and/or fifth century C.E.
Using two primary resources that contain little biographic detail, Patrick’s The Confession and The Letter as well as a variety of other sources, Rogers outlines some of the challenges related to separating fact from fiction relating to Patrick’s life. However, he does a wonderful job of setting his story against the religious and historic setting of post-Roman Britain and Ireland in which Christianity went from an oppressed faith to a state faith.
Divided into seven chapters of 10 to 15 pages each and two appendices that are translated works of his The Confession and The Letter, Rogers brings Patrick’s deep and passionate piety to the forefront at the edge of the world and in the midst of a people who once enslaved him during a time of major political, economic, and religious changes. The result is a picture of a deeply devout and devoted pastor to his flock that seeks to help the reader wade through the legend and find a man who loved God and the people he was called to preach the gospel to at the edge of the world.
(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program called Book Sneeze (www.booksneeze.com) I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)